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Prototype makers and Low-volume manufacturers

lmriddick1's Avatar

Hi,

Can anyone please recommend the best prototype makers and low-volume manufacturers? Ones that will work with all budgets. I am a new inventor needing honest guidance and feedback. Thank you!

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tesladog's Avatargold

Liesel, a lot depends on how deep your pockets are. IF you have a full patent on your concept, AND you've got the funding, it's fairly easy to shop it around to manufacturers and fabricators. Then it's a simple matter of doing exactly what you're doing - asking a high-trust peer group for advice as to who does what and does it well. If you don't have full patent & IP protection, it gets more complicated. Is your idea full protected? If not you've got to be very circumspect about prototypes. You're in the right place though - there's a good group of people here who can and will work with you - and sign NDA's to prove it. Frank White alone is a Google with a mustache - and a heart - love ya, Frank ;)

If you can, make the prototype yourself, or get a skilled friend to sign an NDA before they build it for you. I wouldn't mess with manufacturing until I had a proven prototype first.

Crystal-Diane Nappi
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rpontius's Avatarg8_badge

Liesel:

Do you have a 3D CAD model of your prototype? If you do, you have a LOT more inexpensive options for prototypes and micro-manufacture.

Patric J
Ralph Machesky
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crystaldiane's Avatar

 Hi everyone  this is a good thread because I am asking myself the same question right now  without going into details I'm wondering if there is a central Source people could recommend to find  exactly what this person's asking for a low-volume maker . When I was looking at  possibly building out my product myself truthfully no one would even talk to me  because  my volumes were just too low  for me to commit to because I did not have  the funds they needed  perhaps we could start a discussion on minimum dollars required  to get any manufacturer seriously interested  hope that makes sense  thank you everyone

Patric J
Karen C Adams
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rpontius's Avatarg8_badge

It all depends on the character of the particular item.

Here are a few of the operative questions:

1. Do you have a fully-defined 3D CAD "mechanical" model (not just a rendering)?

2. What material is the item made from?

3. Can the item be 3D printed? (minimal overhangs, sufficient wall thickness, etc.)

4. Does the item require multi-part assembly?

5. Can the item be injection-molded?

6. Does the item need CNC milling?

7. Does the item include any off-the-shelf components? (for example, a fidget spinner needs bearings)

8. Does the item need special (or any) packaging?

Patric J
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rpontius's Avatarg8_badge

This company bills itself as catering to inventors:

https://www.plethora.com/vision-and-team

I have met a lot of "starving artist" (or "starving engineer") types in makerspaces who were making prototypes for others or doing small-batch production under NDA and for a reasonable fee using makerspace equipment. Makerspaces often have a (paper-based) bulletin board of members looking for this kind of work.

Crystal-Diane Nappi
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sparkjockey's Avatargold

Check out the following marketplaces:  http://www.fiverr.com and www.upwork.com you should be able to find anyone you need at these one stop shops for anything and everything related to inventions including 3-D renderings, voice overs, line drawings for your PPA's, video product presentations, camera work, photoshop, you name it, they have someone who can do it for relatively cheap.  They have a database of 1000's of freelance artists all over the world and they all base their pricing on $5 and go up from there.  Look around and make sure you have your freelancer sign an NDA before you send them anything IP related.

Robert Pontius
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crystaldiane's Avatar

I second Fiverr.  I used a number of freelance people to do several things for me.  The upside is that you really HAVE to be very clear about your objectives - else things may get lost in translation. The misgivings people have posted always have to do with being unable to manage time zone or english as a second language barriers. If you can do this and do it well, Fiverr is outstanding for pro help on a budget.  I did my entire whiteboard, voice over, business card deisgns and graphics for under 100 dollars with TIPS for happy client service.  

Duane Bartlett
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