Manufacturing A New Product from an Invention
The difference between an idea and a product is manufacturing. A great idea makes no money until it is produced and sold in multiple units. Understanding the options of how your idea can be manufactured can put additional money in your pocket. The knowledge can make it easier to license your idea. It can enable you to get a higher royalty. It is invaluable for finding investors. As your idea is engineered for manufacturing, you may find new ways to patent and protect it. Finally, knowing the manufacturing process for your invention can help you increase your idea's chances for market success.
Manufacturing encompasses a wide range of processes and technologies. For something simple like a knit hat, you may find yourself looking into sources for 1) wool, 2) spinning the wool into yarn, 3) knitting the yarn into hats, 4) labels that are sewn into the hats, 5) material for hang cards that is 6) printed and cut and attached to the hats and tell their story, 7) sources for bags to protect the hats individually, 8) cartons for shipping hats to customers and 9) shipping labels to attach to the cartons. That’s nine sources for one of the most simple products there is. If your product is a cell phone your suppliers (and the suppliers of your suppliers) will number in the hundreds.
In manufacturing any product you have choices on materials and how to make it. Your choices will be a reflection of your target market and the price points you are trying to reach. Many of the new rapid prototyping/3D printing technologies are great for high end, custom manufacturing. At the high end there’s a lot of room for hand work too. If your invention is a mass market consumer product automated processes will be needed.
One of the huge benefits of working with professional industrial designers is that they can guide you through the many choices and tradeoffs that must be made. When choosing an industrial designer be sure that the one you select has recent experience with products similar to yours. New materials and new processes become available all the time and some may be especially relevant to your invention idea. If you speak to manufacturing sources yourself (a fantastic way to learn) be aware that they will look at your product from the perspective of the kinds of solutions they offer: to a hammer everything looks like a nail.
Successful inventing requires more than thinking up a novel, useful and patentable new product. The new product needs to be manufactured and sold at a price people will pay. Quality matters too. One of the best ways to make money as an inventor is to invent ways to reduce the cost and improve the quality of an existing product that has already been proven.
Manufacturing Processes Manufacturing processes can be broken down into the following broad categories:
- 3D Printing - Metals, Plastics. A computer model is rendered into a physical model. Many different methods.
- Casting - Metals, Plastics, Waxes and Foods. Liquids fill a mold shape and become solid.
- Stamping - Metals are punched and stretched into shapes that fill a die block (often progressively).
- Rolling - Metals, Foods. Thicker sheets of materials are rolled into thinner sheets.
- Forging - Metals. Hot metals are hammered into shapes.
- Molding - Metals, Plastics, Foods. Liquid or soft materials are pushed or pressurized into into molds and hardened.
- Extruding - Metals, Plastics, Foods. Soft materials are pushed through a shape and hardened.
- Machining - Metals, Plastics, Wood. Creating shapes by removing material.
- Cutting - All Materials. Cutting a larger piece into smaller pieces. Many different cutting techniques from sawing to water jets and lasers.
- Joining. All materials. Fusing, welding, gluing, press-fitting, co-molding, riveting, sewing, screwing, bolting.
- Finishing. All Materials. Heat treating, grinding, plating, anodizing, passivating, electrocoating, polishing, painting.
Here is a link that offers information on a wide range of manufacturing processes from mechguru.com: http://blog.mechguru.com/how-products-are-made/app...
Manufacturing Your Idea - Invention City Article - Things to know as you move from prototype to production.
- Quality Trade - Find quality certified manufacturers and parts suppliers in wide range of categories
- Alibaba.com - Find products and parts from sources primarily in Asia.
- ThomasNet - Comprehensive listings of manufacturers and related service providers.
- GlobalSources.com - Locate manufacturers in the U.S, Asia, Europe and around the world. Search by product or by country.
- Job Shop Network - Find short-run manufacturers.
- MacRae's Blue Book - Find components and service providers.
- RSP Inc is a full service turnkey contract manufacturer experienced in taking designs and prototypes from start up to mass production. RSP factories in the US & China offer high quality manufacturing and assembly for clients large and small. Contact Mike Ryan to discuss your project via phone: 414-546-4417 ext 101; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Miles Fiberglass - Produces a variety of products using open molding, vacuum bagging, press molding, and resin transfer molding (RTM) processes. Designs, develops and produces original manufactured products. Finds composite solutions for new inventions visit milesfiberglass.com
- Akro-Plastics/Rotationally Molded Plastic Products - Provides design support, engineering, custom colors, molded-in parts and graphics (metal & plastic inserts, locking hinging), spin welding, post molded graphics, 5-axis CNC trimming, complete assembly, packaging. Metal castings. rotomold.net
- Kroesen Tool - Quality stamped parts. In house die building, laser cutting and custom machining. "Turn key" services - visit kroesentool.com.