We all know that Rome wasn’t built in a day. For the past six years working in new product development, I have met quite a few inventors who chose not to apply this ancient wisdom to the development of their products. They took a leap of faith and went from idea right to manufacturing. As a result, some ended up having a defective product that was not a market fit, and some were left with no product at all. Eventually, those inventors came to our team to start from scratch and get things done right. I can only imagine how many more just pulled the plug on their invention ideas and never got to realize them!
To help you avoid making the same mistake and save your time and money, let’s go over the must-have stages of a new product development process to ensure that your product idea is properly prepared for manufacturing.
- Prior Art Search. It is your essential step that prevents you from infringing patent rights in case somebody else has already patented the same product idea. The art search also helps you to identify products similar to yours and provides necessary data so that you can make timely design tweaks to make your idea unique. Google Patent Search and US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) are very handy in that matter.
- Market Research. Now you need to determine how well your invention idea clicks with potential consumers. Market research shows who your target audience is, their likes and dislikes, allowing you to improve your idea at the earliest stages and make it a perfect market fit. Another important aspect of this stage is that it gives you a definitive answer whether or not you should invest into your idea further. In-person interviews, online surveys, and your social media channels are your tools here.
- Concept Design. When you have all the proof that your product idea is worth pursuing, it’s time to create a conceptual design of your idea, CAD models, and renderings. If you haven’t hired a product development company yet, it’s advisable to do it at this stage. First, this is because concept designers and engineers have necessary knowledge and experience to translate your idea into 2D and 3D models; and second, because they’ve already worked on your concept design, they know your idea in and out, thus, they’re best equipped to make a prototype of your invention.
- Product Prototyping. Until your product is ready for manufacturing, it will go through many iterations to fine-tune the design. You will have a series of prototypes built in the process. Each physical model adds to overall cost-effectiveness of the development process and leads to producing a flawless market-ready product. A pre-production prototype is the last one prior to manufacturing, and it allows you to:
- detect inefficiencies and design flaws;
- improve product’s performance and functionality;
- minimize the use of raw materials and manufacturing costs.
- In the meantime. While your pre-production prototype is being made, it’s a good time to start looking for a manufacturer, and it’s preferred to work with manufacturers that make prototypes. To those of our clients who are individual inventors we always recommend to go with a small-batch manufacturing first. Our team and other product prototype companies offer such services. So, look around in your area for local firms. And, such resources as ThomasNet and Alibaba can help you in your search for a larger manufacturer.
A methodological approach to the new product development process before production takes time, and you need to be ready for it. But, the result is always worth investment – your invention idea is realized and the product hits the market with a very competitive manufacturing cost.
Please consider sharing your guidance, stories of trials or triumphs, and tips with our business owners to help them launch, grow, and connect with the right resources to grow their businesses. Whatever your story is, this SiteConnex® blog is a great tool for business owners can help pay it forward for future business owners.
Call us to join, get connected, and sign up to author a future blog today at 877-352-0157.
Onega Ulanova, MBA, MS
Co-Founder of LA New Product Development Team