The working prototype, in addition to being of use to demonstrate that your product idea works, is key to being able to arrive at a first unit that not only works, but has real possibilities of being competitive in the marketplace.
Risks of hiring a factory to manufacture your first prototype.
Why is this such a serious error?
Instead of attempting to convince you that it is a mistake to visit potential manufacturers prematurely, I propose that you analyze insightfully the factory’s business model, regardless of its size. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that you want companies outfitted with machinery roboticized to the maximum degree possible, so as to streamline and reduce the costs of the manufacturing processes. Likewise, I’m sure you’ll agree that these companies make major investments in this machinery. Therefore, it will be very important to keep said machinery running, as their profitability directly depends on the volume of units manufactured per hour.
You will also agree that whether you do it with a factory or not, the prototype manufacturing step is one that you cannot skip, since it is a fundamental step in demonstrating your invention’s technical feasibility; i.e., that the product works. On the other hand, while so much is riding on the working prototype, not knowing it beforehand is a bigger gamble and risk.
To achieve that, different manufacturing methods should be assessed, with diverse technologies, and the prototype should be iterated as many times as necessary until prototypes are manufactured optimal
Do you think that a factory, equipped with certain machinery and after having invested hundreds of thousands in it, is going to propose to you, via the prototype, a manufacturing method other than the one they can take on?
Do you think it’s cost-effective for a company to manufacture prototypes?
Obviously, the answers are: NO and NO.
Therefore, if your intention really is to successfully demonstrate the feasibility of your idea or product, you should have the backing of an engineering team that does not have any type of commitment with future factories. Thus, they can think of and build a prototype that works and, moreover, can be manufactured with the best method, and not with the one that is “most convenient” due to obvious interests. It is essential that this engineering team have know-how regarding industrial processes. Therefore, in addition to having engineers specializing in each of the areas associated with your product (computer science, electronics, mechanics, industrial design, etc.) the fact that some of the members of the team are industrial engineers and have some experience in this sector also adds a lot of value.
It is key that the first version of your product be manufactured using streamlined and inexpensive means, and even—why not?—artisanal methods, if necessary. You should understand that it is a process that, if you deprive it of the possibility to iterate and the opportunity to commit hundreds of errors, you’re depriving it of the real opportunity to be disruptive, innovative and competitive.
Inventor, the decision to try to look for shortcuts, hiring a factory before you have the working prototype, is one of the mistakes that could doom your project to failure.
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