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Why Prototype Development Can Test Common Design Assumptions

prototype development
making a prototype

When spending time on the design of your product you have probably made many assumptions. Undertaking prototype development and creating a prototype will help to test if these assumptions are correct and demonstrate the right approach moving forward.

You may feel that:

  • Finished products will pass applicable certifications
  • All parts can be purchased easily in the Shenzhen/Dongguan area
  • Fabrication and assembly will be relatively standard and easy
  • Mechanical elements will function as expected, without any risks
  • Tooling for mass production will not cost more than XXX USD

But you need to validate if these are correct through the prototyping process.

The good news
Our team can guide you and suggest the right approach for your project. We can also do a lot of the engineering, purchasing, and assembly work to get your prototype ready in a short period of time using our in-house prototyping equipment.

Our clients come to us with a product design, or simply an idea for a new product. We review the design and suggest improvements to reach the client’s objectives, but there is a point where physical prototype(s) need to be made. We get the materials and drawings together and rapidly produce your prototype(s) in our own ‘hackerspace’ facility.

Many issues only become obvious after one sees and uses a physical rendering of one’s new product idea. Some materials might not look nice together, a feature might be detrimental to user experience, or a manufacturing process might be exceedingly difficult.

Our company employs mechanical designers, electronic engineers, process engineers, and managers with strong production experience. Let us be part of your team.

It is not. However, it might be your best option even if you intend to launch production in Vietnam, in Mexico, or in your own country.

All common components can be sourced within 2 hours of Shenzhen, in a matter of hours or days. The expertise is often here, after 30 years of export manufacturing. And this country can make things happen quickly!

If you want to develop and manufacture a new mechanical, electrical, and/or electronic product and you don’t have the experience in doing so internally, this solution provides you with our in-house engineering expertise and contacts in the local supply chain/s in order to get a physical version of your new product concept made quickly.

At the same time, we also provide feedback on the ease of sourcing and manufacturing, as well as potential issues, so you can improve your design accordingly.

We also strongly suggest you read our guide: The New Product Introduction Process Guide for Hardware Startups.”

One alternative option is to look for a manufacturer and to give them this type of prototyping work.

Typical downsides with Shenzhen suppliers are:

  • Longer lead times: While every day counts for your project to get on the market
  • Lack of transparency into your supply chain: Sources of materials and components won’t be disclosed
  • Your IP won’t be yours: Any engineering work will be considered the supplier’s property by default
  • A good manufacturer might have poor development capabilities, and vice versa

Each project is different, but most require us to:

  • Analyze the initial design and think of potential issues
  • Break it down to the small details, so there is a bill of materials
  • Search and procure those materials, sometimes from overseas (we have an import license)
  • Assemble the product in our own facility
  • Give overall feedback for the designers to prioritize improvement themes
  • Ship the product(s)

You can see how prototype development fits into NPI, and the milestones that we will typically work to, in this graphic:

sofest NPI process for products made in larger quantities

Watch this video where we talk you through each section of the NPI process we follow in detail:

A project manager keeps you posted all along on a web-based collaboration software such as Trello or Asana. You get the full bill of materials (list of suppliers, price…). Our engineers and designers give you feedback on the product design, in order to help you reduce risks of mass production not hitting your objectives (quality, cost, or timing). And, of course, you receive your prototype.

How much does it cost?

It all depends on the complexity of the product, the ease of buying the parts, and the work involved in assembling them together. Not to mention, the need to develop firmware, tooling, or highly specialized sub-assemblies.

Pricing starts from 4,000 USD for a full simple product comprising at least 5 parts. More complex products will have a higher cost which we will provide once we have consulted you and understood your product and needs.

Ready to get started with prototype development?

Click here to get a quotation for prototyping

Prototyping and product development comparison

If you’re in the process of developing your product and producing prototypes, see a comparison between using Sofeast’s R&D team and your other main alternatives:

  • Hiring your own R&D team
  • Delegating all this to a factory

Hit the button below to take a look:

Protecting your IP

Intellectual property protection is something we take very seriously when developing and manufacturing a new product with clients, so for more information on that read:

Learn more about prototype development

prototype development
 

Learn more about prototyping by reading these blog posts from QualityInspection.org.

Remember, if you’re interested in getting help with prototyping for your new product, but you’re not sure about something, you can always arrange a free phone consultation with us where we can discuss your situation and work out together what would be best.

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