Don Debelak offers affordable www.patentsbydondebelak.com
People come up with great product ideas all the time. But to move beyond an idea, turning the idea into a viable business people need to know how to get their idea manufactured, which typically calls for a starting point of simple drawings of a model, a prototype and more detailed engineered drawings and finally a production unit. The trick to success is to meet three goals. First to create a product for a cost effective price, second to deliver a product the customer wants and third to keep the overall development and manufacturing costs under control.
Defining the Product
The number one reason that most inventors have high development costs is that they keep changing their idea, mostly because they did not define their product to start. This is very expensive when you do prototypes or production units. Doing patent type drawings is a good start, it helps you make sure all your features are listed. The site http://www.patent-illustrators.com/patent-illustrations.html has great examples of what a patent drawing looks like. If you can’t do a great patent drawing, you can find numerous low cost patent drawing sites on the Internet.
Producing a Prototype
Prototypes are essential as they work out the many kinks almost every product has. You might want to start by seeing if a 3D Printing prototype might work. A good source to check out is http://www.prototypetoday.com/ which is a trade magazine and trade show for the 3D printing industry. If your product can’t me made with 3D printing, you can search on the Internet where you can find dozens of prototype businesses you can use. But they are typically not the cheapest route to take. Manufacturer who could make your product are a much better choice as first they will make a product that fits into their equipment, which is far more cost effective, and second they will work with you to lower costs if they believe your product could be a market winner. If they believe your product has potential, they will want your long-term business and be very cost competitive on prototype costs. Your goal is to first find a manufacturer for your product that will also make your prototype.
The Traditional Route
Product entrepreneurs typically need a contract manufacturer, a company that buys a variety of components and assembles them into a final product. A good place to start is contract manufacturing directories such as https://contractmfgdirectory.com or www.contractmfgdirectory.plstorebrands.com . ThomasNet www.thomasnet.com has a listing of most manufacturers in the US including an extensive list of contract manufacturers. If your product can be made in a one or two step manufacturing process, such as plastic product like the Super Soaker you can use ThomasNet or sites like Maker’s Row https://makersrow.com or www.mfg.com to find a manufacturer of that type of production part. Some of these sites will require you to have engineering drawings. You can find many providers of these services on the Internet but be sure to check out freelance sites for lower costs services. Freelance sights include https://www.upwork.com,, https://www.guru.com and https://www.peopleperhour.com/
Non-Traditional Routes – SCORE
SCORE, which stands for Service Corps of Retired Executives, is a free service provided by the Small Business Administration, https://www.score.org. they have branches all over the country and they have mentoring services that can be very valuable. My experience is that most SCORE offices have several people available who have experience in manufacturing who will provide ongoing mentoring services. Their biggest benefit is that they have lots of contacts that can help guide you to manufacturers that you can work with.
Non-Traditional Routes – Trade Shows
I have found visiting trade shows in your targeted industry to be the easiest way to find good manufacturing partner. The biggest trade shows for an industry are typically in partnership with the industry trade magazine. Do an Internet search for trade magazines for your industry and you will see the one or two biggest trade magazines. Usually a quick search on their sites will give you the name of the trade magazine.
Attend a show and walk around looking for manufacturers with similar production processes to yours. Talk to the people at the booth to see if they might be interested in making your product. If the company has excess capacity, they will be willing to talk to you. Sometimes, if you are short on funds, you might be able to convince the company to form a partnership with you, taking part of the profits in return for Often, they will tell you they outsource their manufacturing. If that is the case, ask what manufacturers they use. About 50% of the time they will tell you. Ask the people at the booth if they are a company employee, or if they are an independent sales representative. If they are independent, they will work with many different companies and have many industry contacts. Ask if you can buy them lunch, or a drink after the show and then see if they can give you advice about possible manufacturing contacts.
Tips for Success
- Don’t ask contacts to sign a non-disclosure statement if you don’t have a patent. Many companies won’t sign that form, or will refer it to their lawyer. Instead apply for a provisional patent so you can say you are patent pending.
- Create a flyer for your product, even if you just have a rendering on what the product will look like. You need to convince a company that your product is a winner to convince them to cut you a break on costs. Check out http://onestopinventionshop.net/blog/2015/12/inventors-best-brochures-and-flyers-2/ for more info on preparing a flyer.
- Be sure to have an engineering services agreement if you don’t have a patent and even if you do. Working with engineers and manufacturers your product could change and you could need an additional patent. To keep ownership of your patent you should be sure any contract includes an Engineering Services Agreement. These agreements specify that any intellectual property developed in part by the contractor is assigned to the inventor, or to the inventor’s company. Legally, anyone who has contributed to the conception of an idea should be listed on the patent. But that doesn’t mean they necessarily own part of the patent. You will avoid any confusion with an engineering services agreement. Samples can be found on the Internet if you search for “engineering services agreement IP ownership.”