Getting your product made is both an exciting and stressful time.
Producing your product marks the first time when your hard-work can finally start paying off. On the other hand, it also marks when you and your idea will be tested to it’s fullest extent while having to start writing bigger checks.
What You Should Have Prior To Approaching Manufacturers
In order to be prepared for approaching manufacturers you should have the following:
- Proof of Concept Prototype
- Production Design
- Passed Market Viability Testing
- Intellectual Property Protection Measures
- Method of Payment and Production Budget
- Product Unit Cost Goals
- Based on potential customers value for your product and a pricing model.
Having all the above helps to limit risk when moving forward with production.
What Material Manufacturers Need
When you approach a manufacturer there is a range of options for material to provide manufacturers.
The most common and easy material for manufacturers to work with are part and assembly drawings. If you outsourced the engineering of your product then drawings should be included in the deliverables.
Drawings should include the following:
- Part Number
- Part Weight (Used to quote material costs)
- Material Type
- Intellectual Property Claims
- Part Geometries with Definitions
No matter how well the drawings are put together, you should expect to discuss design revisions with the manufacturer. These design revisions will primarily be dependent upon the manufacturer’s machinery, access to materials, and methods. The product engineer needs to be aware of all proposed changes to ensure that they compatible with the final product and if not that necessary additional changes are made. We suggest that the engineer and manufacturer work together directly to come up with a cost effective solution.
Another way to work with manufacturers to have your product produced is through sending a prototype. While this is not as ideal as having a drawing set, if you don’t have access to CAD software or engineers it may be your only option.
Drawbacks to using a prototype instead of drawings include:
- Limiting the number manufacturers which can quote your parts
- Delaying production
- Limiting the number of quotes you can obtain.
- Shipping fees to transport the prototype.
- Many manufacturers will be unwilling to work based only on a prototype.
- Requires reverse engineering methods to generate manufacturing models for the parts adding substantial upfront costs.
Many engineering consultants will generate engineering drawings and CAD models based on a provided prototype so that you can be prepared when approaching manufacturers.
Sketches or Concepts
Some manufacturers have their own internal team of engineers and designers which can assist with turning concepts into products. This process has the same cons as using prototypes with the addition of even more engineering work to be done. For this reason you should expect high upfront service costs and even fewer manufacturers willing to work with you.
If you are working with only a concept, sketches, or a basic prototype it is likely best to find an engineering consulting firm to help generate an engineered design and manufacturing materials prior to moving forward with production.
Today there are many ways to find a manufacturer for your product including the following.
- Google (Or your preferred search engine)
- Trade Shows
- Sourcing Specialist
- Other Online Directories
If your parts have substantial requirements which need specialized machinery then you may have a much harder time finding a manufacturer for those parts. In these cases it may be best to find a machine which could meet your specifications and contact the machine’s manufacturer to learn which manufacturers have invested in the capabilities to make your part. If this does not work then you may be required to invest in custom machinery or change the design to accommodate available machinery.
Getting Your Product Quoted
Once you have generated you manufacturing material and found manufacturers then it’s time to attain quotes. To do this prepare a short email with the following information.
- Who you are and why you are contacting them
- Part Numbers
- Requesting 4 or more quantities be quoted allows you to determine optimal volumes
- Example: p/n: xxx-xxx-xxxx: 500, 1000, 5000, 10000 Units
- Attached drawings
- Thank them for their time and be polite!
Working with manufacturers requires developing a relationship. Be sure to treat them with respect. After they respond they may request additional information such as CAD files, shipping address, and more.
Get Samples | Check Quality
Prior to giving the green light to manufacture your product you will want to obtain samples to ensure the suppliers can meet with your specifications. Some manufacturers will require giving intent to place an order with them prior to preparing a sample while others will be happy to prove their quality before any commitment.
Travel to the Manufacturer
For many parts you will want to travel to the manufacturer while your product is being produced, at least for the first run to test the quality. The last thing you want to do is place a large production order and have all of your products need to be trashed.
ASR is a mechanical and aerospace engineering firm that specializes in engineering design and analysis. If you are in need of engineering services then contact us today to speak to one of our experienced engineers for a free quote on your project!