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February 05, 2015

From Invention to Production: The Only Thing You Need Is...

Manufacturing... and TIME! More Time that you might think!  One of the most common questions we get is: How long will it take to get into production?

Invention_to_Production

Think of manufacturing as the bridge that links your invention to production of an actual product. The Million Dollar Question is: How do you get there?

Sounds simple, right?  Well, hang on there and take a look at all the steps you need to complete BEFORE you call a contract manufacturer to produce your idea. 

Invention

Patent Protection of Intellectual Property (IP)

Product Design

 Possible additional IP Changes to Original Idea Prototype 

 RFQ and Design Input from Manufacturer (Request for Quotation and DFM, Design for Manufacturing)

Forecast

Tooling

Sampling

Production

Let’s quickly look at these steps and share a little information that will help you along the journey.  Remember, most businesses and adventures in life look like this:

Reality-Chart

Even though we really want them to look like this:

Wish-Chart

  • Invention:  The “A-Haaa” Moment.  A need sparks a solution, sometimes literally on the back of napkin.
  • Patent Protection of IP:  Contact a patent attorney, explain your idea, grab your checkbook, and start the process.
  • Product Design:  Unless you are an engineer, and sometimes even if you are, you will need to work with a design engineer or firm to produce a set of 2D or 3D Solid models or complete manufacturing package.  You’ll need your checkbook for this step too!

    (If design changes or improvements come from this step, go back one step to ensure that idea is protected.  Once again, you’ll have something in the savings account because this will cost you too.)
  • Prototype:  Time to turn that idea, that was mechanically drawn, into an actual product.  You will need a prototype company to help build that Alpha, or first set of samples.  Why? Because companies and inventors buy and support products, not typically ideas (unless you plan to just license the technology). Yup, bring your checkbook again!
  • RFQ:  Have a contract manufacture provide a price to manufacture your product
  • DFM:  Have a contract manufacturer provide input to create a better product AND reduce cost (provide alternative materials, suggestions, etc.)
  • Forecast:  Based upon data, not dreams, how many will you really need?
  • Tooling:  Based upon forecast, you issue a Purchase Order for tooling investment.  Forecast will determine size and life of tool needed.
  • Sampling:  You review initial products from your tooling investment (tooling link).  If they meet specification you approve and…
  • Production:  Finally, your idea is coming to life as hundreds and thousands of your product is coming off the manufacturing line and being shipped to your warehouse!

Easy right?  It only takes lots of checks from your checkbook, lots of time, and lots of patience.  Ramping up to manufacturing is a process.  Done right and you, the inventor, will reap the benefits for years to come! 

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Filed Under: Product Development, Manufacturing, Contract Manufacturing