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How good does my concept drawing need to be?
You just need to get your idea on to paper, and start thinking about dimensions and how the product would look and operate.
Often getting the idea from your head to paper generates all kinds of good questions for you to think about – how much will it weigh? How will it be put together?
What is it made of? Different angles especially make you think about all aspects.
What format does this need to be in?
Literally this is just a piece of paper – pencil, pen and markers. Something you can show to a potential customer and they can understand the concept and get a sense of your product.
It can be a digital sketch also but does not need to be.
Do I need a professional to do this? What if I can not sketch to save my life?
You can do it yourself, for sure. But if you do not feel comfortable, or want it to look great you can hire an Illustrator.
What is a features and specifications list?
To prepare for future manufacturing, you will need to begin documenting the key aspects of your product. Do you have key measurements? Is weight important? Certifications?
Maybe it is the aesthetics? Make a list of all the points that are most important for you – features, colors, dimensions, anything at all that describes this product. Include key materials or component parts.
What is a “feature”?
A feature is a distinguishing aspect of the product. Example : waterproof, or elegant design, or lightweight.
What is a PRD and ERD?
For complex products like engineered and electronic products, often both are used. The PRD describes the market, the use and the technical environment of the the product.
The ERD gets into the specific details of what exactly needs to be built. If your product is not so complex, you can simply combine these two concepts.
How can I do this, when
I do not even have my prototype yet?
This is the time to start your list, with whatever information you do have. It is ok to start small, but it is important that you begin documenting and thinking about exactly what will make up your product.
How perfect does my prototype need to be?
Prototypes are used in different ways – to have something physical to show a customer, to play around with alternative designs, to test whether parts come together as you thought they would. Many products go through 4-5 stages of prototypes before they settle on the final design.
So don’t worry about perfection to start.
Why don’t I just skip the prototype and go right to manufacturing from my drawing?
It is unlikely your product will go from drawing to final manufactured version without any changes. And it is very expensive to make changes in manufacturing. The prototype allows you to play, validate your idea, and redesign quickly, and at a low cost.
Shouldn’t I find a manufacturer first, and then ask them to make my prototype?
This is possible, and many manufacturers may offer you this as a service. But be careful. They will then use methods that work best for them, not for you or your product cost. And often they expect that you will need to order production parts from them. But what if their quality or cost is not the best? Then you are stuck with them, or you have to spend time re-quoting, finding another supplier, and trying it again.
How do I find someone to make my prototype?
Prototypes are typically low volume (1-3 units), and the first generation prototypes are often made via local job shops. This gives you a quick and manageable way to get something in your hands. If your product is too complex for this, there are a number of prototyping companies that can help.
Should I 3D print my prototype?
3D printing is great for prototypes, not only the components but sometimes even the finished item itself. It gives a super fast, accurate result based on your drawing.