- The Originality of Prototypes
During the initial invention phase of your project, you have gone through extensive measures to ensure that your invention is, in fact, original. During the prototype phase, you also need to be made aware of any potential products that could be considered too similar to your own. The bottom line: to get a patent for your project, to make money from your product, you absolutely have to be sure that it is an original prototype.
Initially, you need to insure that no one else has created anything like your own. Over the last few weeks or months, during the initial creation of your invention, you have likely gone through extensive reviews to ensure that it is an original. Now, it is time to go through that process again, in the form of the prototype. Doing this will ensure that your money is well invested. For example, if you invest heavily in the design of the prototype only to find that there is a similar product on the market or in development, you could be wasting a lot of your money on this process.
In order to get a good idea of what is out there that could be conflicting for your prototype, start with an Internet search. This will give you the best overall result from the beginning. Use as many words as you can think of to describe your prototype. For example, although you may be designing a box, call it a square, too. An Internet search can not only turn up other inventions that are similar to your own, but it can also provide you with any ideas that may be in prototype phase, or design. Blogs, websites and even inventors often design and talk about their products online.
While you may want to wait until the production of your prototype to get a patent for it, this does not mean you shouldnt do a patent search on your prototype now. This will give you the best overall idea of what is out there that could be similar to your own. You can learn more about this process by visiting the very thorough United States Patent and Trademark Office. There, you can search through the databases to come up with any number of potential options available to you or perhaps working against you.
Should you find something that could interfere with your ability to actually finish the prototype, you have saved yourself money. You may need to make your idea more original or change it completely. However, you would have kept it quite affordable compared to the alternative.
Throughout the process of designing your prototype, keep quiet about it. Only those who have signed confidentiality agreements should be given access to your prototype information and your invention logs. Anyone else could cost you dearly by taking the information from you and putting their name on it. While it is important to protect your prototype, you also have to protect your wallet by searching for other products on the market similar to it.
- Cheap Prototype Help: Cutting Costs
You need to build your prototype, but the cost of having a professional company come in and make the prototype is one area that you are not willing to spend your money. Most inventors have great, big ideas, but they do not have great, big wallets. The good news is that there are ways to cut the costs of prototype services without jeopardizing the actual quality design you need for your invention. A prototype is an initial investment, so you can expect to pay at least something; however, there are ways to reduce your costs so that the impact of a mistake or a failed idea does not wipe out your bottom line.
For example, working with the right people matters. It is helpful to work with individuals in the industry that have the tools and machinery to do the job, but perhaps are not in the industry directly. You can talk to your local tool and die shop for help with making your prototype even though they normally do not do these types of projects. By decreasing the actual professionals that you use in the design process, you will lower the costs. Still, they have the right tools and the means to help with the fabrication and assembly. Most tool and die shops will help.
But what if you still dont want to pay even these guys the hefty sum they are requiring? There are still a few additional options you have. For example, you may want to partner up with these individuals. Come into the shop to talk to the owner. Sell your idea to them, as much as you can do so without completely exposing your idea to the wrong people. Then, encourage them to help you to decide the prototype. They will need an incentive.
Good incentives for these trade people may be things like royalties to the product after the item moves into production. Perhaps you can offer them some other incentive that is fitting for the industry. If you offer correctly, you should not have to pay them for the prototype service until (and if) the prototype becomes a commercialized product. This is a fantastic way to lower costs. You will still have the quality product you need to check functionality and design.
Not all of the trade people that you work with will be willing to help cover these costs for you. They may want much more than you are willing to give them in terms of your product, which is another reason you may not want to invest in these services as such. You can expect to pay $100 per hour or more for their services.
Incentive-based offers like this help to encourage companies to work with you, though there is no guarantee that they will reach a specific cost. For those prototypes that will be highly labor intensive, or will involve a great deal of work, it can be best to use an incentive-based payment process or you could spend countless dollars on the process.
- Trade People Can Help You
As you consider building your first prototype, take into consideration the ability of hiring semi-professionals to help you with the design. There are some situations where you can build your own prototype and in these situations that is the best way to go. (If glue and paper will suffice, then that is what you will want to use.) On the other hand, there are some prototypes that need much more than this and this is when you want to start thinking about who you will get to help you to build this prototype. The good news is that you have a few options, including trades people.
When do you need to consult these professionals? A good estimate of this need is whenever there is a material that you cannot easily manipulate on your own, or without investing in a highly expensive product or machine to help you. For example, perhaps creating your prototype requires that you invest in machinery to bend or form metal or plastic. This is something you cannot easily do at home with good success. Alternatively, perhaps there is engineering required or assembly needed that will go beyond what you can do from your home.
Instead of hiring a professional, high-end company who will charge you a great deal, go with a local, independently owned and operated tool and die shop. The good news is that these companies usually get a good number of individuals in for requests like this, so they will know how to help you, even if you do not know what type of help you need. These professionals can help you with virtually any aspect you may need. They can help you with welders and pipefitters. They will even work with you on assembling the prototype around your specific requirements.
Most of the time, trade people like this will charge you based on a materials and time basis. You can expect to pay a good amount for this service—usually around $100 an hour. But, this cost is far less than the cost of other professional manufacturers. Talk to these local shops to find out if they can help with the type of prototype that you have.
Another option to also keep in mind are local automotive shops. Look especially for those businesses that are more mom and pop shops rather than commercial organizations. They will give you the most flexibility in working around your needs. If you need tools and machinery in a different industry, then seek out fabricators within that area. This is the best way to get low cost but quality help in building your prototype.
There are many inventions that do not make it past this phase because they simply do not work. But if you hire a fulltime professional company to build your prototype, you will invest heavily in a product that just does not work for you. In other words, save your money and instead work with those industries that give you the best bang for your investment.
- The Benefits of Professional Design and Development
While most inventors do have fantastic ideas, they do not often have the necessary tools and resources to make the process work. They may lack the fundamental elements like parts, materials and assembly machinery to get their invention from paper to prototype. This is common and the solution to the problem can come from various areas. A good option to consider is a design company. At the high end of the cost scale, these design firms will provide your prototype with the most thorough design and development production.
There is no doubt that hiring a professional product and design company to handle your prototype is expensive, but there are some excellent benefits to using these companies instead of using other services. If you have the money, you can count on these companies to provide you with a much more thorough end result. They do more than just put the product together—they also study it and find ways to improve it. If you do not have the skills or time to do this yourself, using these services can be a fantastic investment option for you.
What can a professional design company do for you? A variety of things, including the following:
- The design company can take the finished prototype in handle and analyze the human factors regarding it. This includes things like the feeling, size and weight. These are not often something that can be complete in a simple manufacturing scenario.
- Refining the design is what they do best. Once the initial prototype has been created, these design companies take it to the next level, with your input of course. They can refine the design in areas that are more important than you may imagine such as in the surface material and even the color of the prototype.
- Improve the products marketability: many times the design company can refine the product so that the prototype is more marketable. This includes things like determining how to sell the product to the market that will eventually want to buy it.
Do these things really matter? In some cases they can make the difference between the success and failure of your business. Ultimately, you want to be sure that the product you put out is the best that it can be. Experts who work in a product development and design company are experienced in getting your product to this next level. They know what the industry is looking for and expecting. This can translate into the sale of your invention or the falling of it.
In many situations, it is highly effective to build your own prototype; in other situations, you will want to hire a major design and development firm. You may even want to do both, especially using a design company for the final prototype of your invention. Most of these companies will give you specific feedback that you will need. Unless you can get this information from another source, it could be vital to obtain it through these sources.
- Show Your Prototype To The Right Audience
As you consider the many fantastic ways that you can handle your prototype, avoid the family problem. Many inventors will spend a great deal of money and time on having the invention designed and made into a prototype and then they go to the wrong source to get functionality, marketability and other feedback. If you head to your mother or other family members to find out just how well your product works, chances are good you will not get an accurate estimation of the true functionality. Rather than making this mistake, avoid it and instead head to other sources.
A common problem happens when inventors have their prototype in hand and then head to their family's home to find out what they think of it. Then, they get rave reviews and a lot of inspiration and motivation. This is fantastic! Your product is a raving success and by the end of the year you will be a millionaire! Instead of making this mistake, realize that this is not the likely way it will play out. Many of these individuals that go this route end up losing their mind and motivation when they hear that their product is worthless in the real world by a marketing firm or by their first investors. How can this be true when so many praised it?
The truth is that you need the opinions of those that matter on your prototype, so that you can actually get it to the next level. Your family may purchase your product but usually it will only be because you are you. What you need to make your product the best possible investment on the market is true, useful criticism. Who are the individuals that need to matter to you when you have a prototype?
- Get the opinions of your potential investors. What do they feel about the product and what feedback are they giving you regarding it? After all, these individuals will need to put their money into your product.
- Determine what partners feel about the product. Your partners need to be backing up the prototype or giving constructive criticism so that there is a wealth of opinions to share.
- Customers also matter. Ask yourself, who is your most likely customer? Then, get a focus group going or just head to the appropriate area and start talking with individuals who may purchase what you have. What is their feedback, without knowing that you are the owner of the product?
- Supplier feedback is also important. Are they able to provide the materials and execution required for your product?
When you have a prototype in hand, you will feel great about your product. Yet, it is also important to have the information required by those who matter so that you can take your prototype to the next level. It will only make the prototype better or give you more feedback on the likely success of it. You should consider this.
- Provisional Patent to Full Patent: Know How It Works
With a provisional patent application in hand, you may be ready to start working on the full patent, sometimes called a permanent patent. It is important to keep in mind that you do have a limited time to file your patent application from the time that you have either started to sell your invention, published your invention or have obtained your provisional patent. This is just 12 months, and although it may seem like plenty of time, the patent process is quite thorough and requires a lot of time to make it happen.
Remember the importance of getting a provisional patent application filed prior to the full patent. You will be able to claim the earlier filing date as the first date of the invention, which protects your rights to the invention for a longer period of time. To accomplish this, you must file a full patent application that is set up to claim the provisional applications initial filing date. On the other hand, you can take the provisional application itself and have it converted into a full patent application.
The difference here is that there is a term difference. If you file a full patent application that uses the date of the provisional application as the filing date, the term of your patent is then measured from the date on the full patent application. In the secondary case, you are using the provisional patents filing date, which is one year earlier in most cases. The down side to doing this is that you will lose a full year off your patent.
It is also important to keep in mind the details that allow for the use of the provisional patent application. For example, the full patent application and the provisional patent application must have descriptions of your invention that are very similar. The professionals at the Patent Office must be able to see that the two descriptions are for the same invention.
This can be somewhat worrisome to some as the provisional application is often done unprofessionally and even by the inventor himself. The patent office actually recommends that all provisional patent applications come in with professionally done illustrations of the invention. While this is not a requirement, it can help to protect your invention from mistakes on one application or the inability to show that they are in fact the same item.
Be sure you realize that there is still not a guarantee that you will be given a full patent even if you do have a provisional patent in line and accepted. In fact, the U.S. Patent Office does very little to review the provisional applications, and this can be quite limiting. Therefore, it is an important step to insure that the application for the patent has proper presentation to the patent office from the start.
It is recommended that you take the patent application process quite seriously. It can be devastating to learn that a date was missed or that there was confusion about the process. Instead, insure that you have taken all necessary measures.
- Prototype Safeguarding Tips
While you can keep most of your invention creation to yourself, you definitely will struggle trying to create your prototype and keep it a secret. There are plenty of ways that you could run into trouble from the individuals who produce it spilling the information about it to those who you show it to in order to get feedback from. The goal you should have is to protect your prototype from start to finish. There are several things to keep in mind when doing this.
Your prototype is one of the most realistic steps towards completing your invention. Once people see it and learn what it can do for them, you could be in trouble if you have not taken the steps t protect yourself. Here are some tips to do just that.
- Keep a log of all of your transactions, changes, and anything to do with your invention. Keep these in a written (not just digital) version in pen. Keep them safeguarded, signed and dated to give yourself the most protection long term.
- Hire an attorney. Perhaps now at this stage you will need to have an attorney to help you through the invention process. One thing you need them for is to make sure that anyone that comes in contact with your prototype signs a confidentiality agreement. This way, if they tell anyone else about the invention, they could face stiff penalties. A legal document is the best way to protect yourself.
- Keep your attorney on hand for any transactions regarding your prototype. Should you come to a meeting to market the prototype to potential investors and they turn you down but later produce a similar product you could face countless problems include lawsuits. Have your attorney there to protect you throughout the process or at least to give you advice on how to handle these situations.
- Be careful who you show it to. Telling everyone about it will not do anything to help promote your prototype, especially when less than trustworthy people get their hands on it. The only real opinions that matter are investors, suppliers and customers.
- When it comes time to, file your patent legally. Be sure to use a professional patent agent or an attorney. These individuals will keep the actual process legal including monitoring terminology, wording and precise details. Do not try to file your patent on your own since this could cost you the entire process.
Your prototype is your baby. You want to safeguard it from any potential problems that may arise in the coming months. From the time that the prototype is made until you have an investor and patent in hand, it will be up to your careful movements to insure that the prototype has been protected. Take steps throughout the process to insure that your prototype has been protected. Do not forget the most important investment: an attorney who is familiar with the process who can give you advice, information, contracts and help filing the patent.
- Prototype Marketability: How to be Sure Your Prototype Will Sell
Taking your idea and making it real can be highly motivational and it can be one of the best steps in making your dream a reality; however, there is much more to accomplish through the design of your prototype, including determining the marketability of your product.
Marketability is the means in which you will sell the product. Who will buy it? How likely is it to sell? How much will it sell for? Is this feasible with the prototype that you have designed? Marketability is a test of just how well your product can do on the market. Without this step, you could cost yourself a great deal of money. Many inventions fail because they did not make it through this process and that is a good thing since it could be costly to run through the manufacturing of a large number of products only to find that it just will not sell.
There are various elements to consider once you have your prototype in your hand.
- Does the product work? The initial benefit of a prototype is to insure that the product functions as you would like it to. While on paper it may make sense, it becomes more important to see it working in real life. If it does not function, as it should, steps will occur to help improve its function so that you get a long term, better result.
- Does the product manufacturing process work correctly? Often a product can be made highly expensive because the manufacturing process is too expensive. When this is the case, the marketability of the product drops considerably. You will need to raise the price to sell it and turn a profit.
- Does it appeal to the masses? Depending on what your product is, it should appeal to the customer purchasing it. Is it too heavy, too insignificant? Is it too clumsy or not easily accessible? Does it take a learning curve to make it work (that people wont take the time to learn?) These questions can come about of a real, in the hand prototype since people can give you feedback.
The marketability of your prototype is something you can work on yourself or through your inventions design company. The goal is to understand just how well the product will do once it is on the market. If you plan is to get an investor on board for such a program, then you also need to take into consideration the importance of the prototype in this scenario. You need the prototype to be something that sells itself to the investor. Accomplishing this will result in a better likelihood of investment.
A prototype is a fantastic way to know if your product is going to sell. Do not overlook the importance of tweaking it for results.
- Manage the Prototype Budget
Have you put a budget in place for the prototypes you will create for your invention? In some situations, having just one prototype is enough because the development was done well and the product was easy enough to build to this level. In most other products, it will take several prototypes to get to a model that will be sellable. This can weigh heavily on any investors budget. You should have a development budget in mind when you start the prototype phase of your products invention, but make sure that it is reasonable.
Each product or invention is going to cost a different amount to design and develop, which is why you will want to do some research now, before you begin the prototype process. Talk to several organizations and development professionals to help you find the most feasible option. Talk to area-wide schools, colleges and trade organizations to find out if they have the resources to help you to build your prototype and the cost of doing it with them. Talk to your local automotive shop or your local tool and die companies (choose those companies that are small and local for the best price.) Talk with a design company to determine the prototype process and find out how many revisions are included in their investment.
Once you have an idea of what one prototype will cost, be sure to take into consideration what several will cost. Some industries will not charge the same amount for second prototypes since most of the design work has been done, but this is something to verify from the start. Once you have a good idea of what the cost is likely to be, the next step is to insure that you have the funds budgeted.
In addition to the development budget for the prototype, remember that the patent process will also cost you a good amount followed by the manufacturing process. From the prototype phase on up, you will find that the expenses keep rising. In situations where you are a private inventor without a lot of money to invest, you will need to consider an investor. Investors will need to be sold on your idea, though, which can be challenging in some circumstances. Therefore, be sure to invest your time in the initial prototype so that it sells well to investors.
Be reasonable, too. If your invention and prototype costs are simply too high, and you do not have the investors that you need, it may not be something you can do. Be responsible for each investment you make. For example, you will want to insure that every dollar you spend is recorded and accounted for from your budget. Be sure to put in as much as you can during each phase of the prototype. Do not leave something to the next design since it will likely cost you much more to do several prototypes than just one great one. For many individuals, the cost factor is a huge factor in success, but careful management matters most.
- Industrial Design Prototype Help
Where will you get your prototype designed? There are several places to get help, but some locations are better than others. Perhaps the best choice will be the industrial design community within your own community. If you live in or near a larger city, chances are good there are some great industrial resources right in the area that can provide you with the services you need to make your prototype a reality.
This type of help is appropriate for virtually any type of prototype you may have. Anytime you need to take the process to the next level, or you cannot do even the initial prototype on your own, these communities are the best fit. Industrial design houses, as they are often called, work well because they provide you with the technical and the design requirements that you need. They are hands-on folks: people who will work with you hand-in-hand to work out the problems and still help you to overcome the potential downfalls you face. Consider it like hiring a team to help you to get the process underway.
Where can you find industrial design houses in your area? Chances are good that there are a number of different locations to visit to get this type of help. Start with the industry design department at any of the colleges or universities in your area. If you do have a technical school available locally (which most people do have) then chances are good you also have the opportunity to use these services for your prototype. These are a good place to start since they are relatively inexpensive; often you can find students who are willing to work with you inexpensively.
You can also find additional industrial design houses available through the Industrial Design Society of America. This organization will provide you with a list of potential companies to work with. The organization does do this for many individuals often on a daily basis. Inventors from all occupations come to this organization for additional help in the design of their product.
Why should you consider the use of industrial design houses and colleges? One reason to do so is that they are far less expensive than using a major design company to do the work for you. In many situations, they are also more readily available to help you to get the project off the ground faster rather than working with a larger company with hundreds of prototypes coming through on a daily or yearly basis.
You will still need to pay for the services of these industrial design community professionals. You may have to pay a set dollar amount per hour, or you could pay a small amount for a long term use of their facility. The options are varied, but chances are good you can get the initial prototype of an average product done for just a few hundred dollars to start with. This is far less expensive than other means of accomplishing this.
- Gain Knowledge About Prototypes
As an individual with an idea that you want to come to life, the next step takes more than just having the products. By learning as much as you can about the process of creating prototypes, you could skyrocket the process. The fact is, once you learn a process, you can overcome many of the obstacles in your way. To do this, you will need to spend some time learning about prototypes.
Where can you find information about prototypes? You can find most of the information you need right online, of course, but also through various other sources. Even in this day and age, one of the best resources for information is the library. The research available through a large public library system is outstanding in the prototype world. You can learn virtually everything you need to, as well as how to make the process happen without mistakes.
For those who are doing their first prototype, there is no better place to start than with a good education on how the process works. You can get most of the information available to you online. Here are some tips to help you.
- Use the web as a preliminary research tools. The web is easily filled with information that is inaccurate or not enough of what you need. Use it as a starting point but never count on everything you obtain from it to be the end all.
- Visit the library in the off hours, when there are not as many people there. Then, find someone that works for the library who has time and the knowledge about research to help you. You may even want to come back for the individual that knows the most about the prototype industry and invention methods. They are one of the best in house, free resources you have.
- Communicate with inventors and associations within the field you are in. Networking is a great way to not only get information but also to learn the process. Most people are very willing to work with you to answer questions as long as you are contributing to the community a well.
The prototype process, from start to finish, is quite impressive, but it is also one of the most intense processes. You may find yourself overwhelmed and frustrated. Remember that the process is not a race to the end line, but a process of learning and testing that happens repeatedly until the right elements to come together with the results you need.
Therefore, perhaps the most important step for you is having a foundation of knowledge to work from. The more you know about the process, the design process and the actual testing process, the better you will do in the end. Plus, you can avoid many problems along the way. You do not need to spend too much of your time working on mistakes when you have a method of noticing the problems before you make them happen.
- Engineer Drawings or Prototypes?
As you work toward making your idea a reality, you will want to insure that the process goes in the right order. So, what comes first: the highly technical engineering drawings or the prototype? You may need the drawings to have the prototype made and you may need to verify that the prototype will work before you put the engineering in line. It can be necessary to have the engineering drawings complete after your initial prototype has a design.
For some products, having the drawings done that will be sent to the design company or even the manufacturer may be highly complex. These technical drawings are often done by professionals so that they can be as exact as possible. When there are flaws in them, it can be highly problematic for anyone involved. The good news is that there are many ways to insure that the drawings are complete correctly, including having an initial prototype designed prior to the drawings being complete.
Computer drawings are an especially expensive process that will need to be highly intricate. If you plan to use services like stereolithography for the production of your prototype, these drawings have to be highly accurate, very detailed, three dimensional and digitalized. This is a process that will take time and money. What if there is an error that was not spotted prior? The entire process has to be scrapped and started over. This is not going to be an affordable option for you.
Instead, have a simple but thorough prototype made of the product prior to investing in these drawings. This will help you to ensure that the process goes well and without common flaws. How can you create these inexpensive prototypes without investing a lot of your money? A good way to go is to a paper prototype. Get the scissors, glue and papier-mâché out to use. While these are highly rudimentary designs, they are still going to provide you with the best overall result in finding technical problems. Perhaps something needs to be smaller, or larger. Perhaps you need a more rounded arc or a straight line. These may not be easy to see on a piece of paper but when you pull them out into three-dimensional designs, they are much more realistic and noticeable.
Then, once you have a very basic prototype in line, you can move on to the computer drawings of your design. Going through the process like this can help you to avoid highly costly errors. It does not take much more of an investment since even machinery and technical products can be done with very inexpensive materials to insure that they work decently. It can help you to ensure that your prototype is going to come out a success from the start. At the end of the day, you do need those computer drawings and technical drawings, but you also need to have them done and working for you to avoid having to have the prototype done a second or third time.
- Do You Need a Prototype?
Before you start investing in a prototype, you should understand why you need them. This can help you to see why you need to invest in this process rather than just taking your idea in basic format to the possible investor. Ultimately, people respond better to things they can feel and touch. While they can see and perhaps even understand your design on paper, they are less likely to be able to actually take the information and make it realistic without being able to hold it in their hand or see it in front of them. The process of creating a prototype is best done whenever your concept needs to spring to life.
Having a prototype can take your basic idea and really transfer it into a real, quality finished product. Even though there may be many changes after the initial prototype is done, it gives a physical presence to your idea. What are the benefits of this?
- Investors that you need to get the invention off the ground are able to see and understand how the product works, what it does and who will purchase it. They can relate for the first time to the product in their lives, their business or even in the hands of customers.
- Suppliers can get a better idea of what you need or what materials can work best for your products design. Often, this is one of the best ways to give your suppliers more information about what you need from them. They can troubleshoot the needs you have and offer better resources than they can when the product is in a basic drawing.
- Customers who may want to purchase the prototype product are more interested. Not many will be able to read technical drawings or in depth three dimensional products, but they definitely can tell if the product or service is right for them when it is right in front of them.
- A prototype can also be useful to you, the inventor. It can help you to spot problems, to get more ideas, to test and test more. Having a prototype can help you to see more of your product and design. It is often a step towards the finished product, too, which is highly motivational for most people.
There are some instances when you may not need to have a prototype designed for you. In these situations, you should have the concept completely laid out and perfected. The cost of taking a basic design to a major manufacturer can be highly expensive when the idea just does not work in real life. No matter how good it looks on paper, you need to know what it looks like in real life.
There is nothing more exciting during the early phases of designing your invention than being able to touch and feel it. It can be a highly motivational process that helps you to see what the true bottom line can be for the invention. Consider the benefit of investing in prototypes for virtually any product.
- Determine if Building it Yourself Works
From the time you are ready to start building your prototype to the day that the item has finished all of your reworking, you will spend a good amount of time and money into the process. Building a prototype may not be as easy as it looks (after all, that once cardboard cutout is not going to last that way for very long until things get much more expensive). On the other hand, though, you have to take into consideration the cost of building your prototype yourself.
Is this possible? In some situations where complex mechanisms need to be manufactured, it may not be possible to build your own prototype. Not everyone should do so. You will need to take into account the design, layout and overall difficulty of building your own prototype prior to making a decision about if it will work for you or not. One thing is for sure: if you can build it yourself, it will be far less expensive to move forward. If you cannot build it yourself, trying to could be a colossal waste of your time and your money. Therefore, making an individual decision here is essential.
Going low cost. Did you know that some of the most successful prototypes and inventions were first built out of nothing more than glue, tape and scissors? The bottom line is that there are times when building your first prototype is something you can do at the kitchen table (or in your shop). Here is a good example of doing this: A man named Claus Sadlier sat down one day at his kitchen table with nothing more than paper cups, poster board, glue, scissors and cardboard and within a few minutes had a product that now generates some $50 million in sales each year. The product was the triple wall insulated paper cup. The company we are talking about is Insulair Inc.
One of the best determinations of if you can do the prototype yourself is the actual concept in hand. Using his example, the idea was something he was completely familiar with, something that was not hard to imagine would work or how it would work. Therefore, he could sit down at the table and work on his project with these very inexpensive pieces. He could wrap his mind around the project at hand.
The actual construction process also has to be something that is possible to do at home. Complex combinations of machinery are not going to be available at your kitchen table, but if the items you need are available, there is little reason not to try to make that first prototype from your home.
Can you build your prototype at home? If so, you will save yourself a large amount of money in the process. Not everyone can do this type of building, though, which means that it can be (and often is) a better decision instead to use a professional for the initial design of your invention.
- Consider The Benefits Stereolithography
Prototype creation is a process of taking an initial idea for an invention and making it come to life. The best way to make this happen is through stereolithography, a process of rapidly constructing something. Of course, there are many different types of prototype creation and each invention needs to be considered on its own needs and merits; however, for some inventions, a more cost-effective method than serious manufacturing is stereolithography.
Stereolithography is a process of using a machine to create a very quick prototype of your invention. In most cases, the process is highly inexpensive, which is why it is so attractive to many individuals in the industry. It will create a polymer version of the product you are hoping to design. Rapid manufacturing technology has come a long way in recent years which is why it is highly attractive to many in the industry. Another reason why so many are using it is because it is a highly accurate product. It gives a very clear result, something that even other manufacturing methods do not do well. In addition, it also provides you with a good overall surface finish.
How does stereolithography work for you? It is an additive fabrication process. In order to work, it uses a vat of liquid UV curable photopolymer resin. It also uses the services of a UV laser to build each of the parts your product requires. It does this by working layer by layer, at a time. The creation process starts with a single layer being created by the laser that will trace the cross section pattern onto the surface of the liquid resin. When this happens, the UV laser light will then solidify the pattern that has been traced onto the resign. This is called curing. Once complete, it adheres to the layer below the current layer.
Once the pattern is traced, the device that does the stereolithography will then drop by a single layer of thickness, often as small as just 0.05 mm. It then gets recoated with a fresh layer of material. The process then repeats for each layer moving forward until the entire assembly has been completed. The part or product is then in form, in a complete three-dimensional shape. The process also provides for the removal of excess resin through a chemical bath. The final finished piece will also need curing in an oven designed for UV.
There are various benefits to using stereolithography for the production of your prototype, but it is often something you need to consider on an individual basis. The process will require that complete, digital three dimensional drawings be made by a professional engineer. These engineering drawings will need to be highly accurate so that they can be sent to the device to create the product. This is perhaps the most taxing element of the process. Still, this process is one of the best for those who are looking for an inexpensive and often very fast method for creating their prototype.