It seems like everyone has a little inventor in them. We've all had one of those million dollar ideas that would change the way we do things. With the era of tech innovation and the rise of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, it is easier than ever for the average person to bring new products to market. Follow this step-by-step guide to learn how to turn your brilliant idea into a real product.
Step 1: Do Your Research
You've confirmed that your idea is a hit by bouncing it off friends and family. But then reality sets in. Does this product already exist? How do you start the process of actually inventing your product? This is prime time for conducting market research. Market research consists of identifying similar products on the market, evaluating your customer base, figuring out costs, and deciding where you would sell your product. Be thorough in your research. You will need to be able to answer these questions later on if you plan to seek outside funding for your product.
If you're concerned that your product may already exist, you can visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website. This website will provide you with an abundance of resources on product patents and trademarks.
Step 2: Develop A Prototype
Good news! The most critical part is over. You have already come up with your ingenious idea. Once the market research phase is completed, you can start to develop a prototype of your product. The best way to do this is to start with a Computer Aid Design (CAD). By using CAD software to create an electronic model, you can see how your parts fit together, what exactly your product is going to look like and whether or not it will work. The CAD model can tell you a lot of information for a low startup cost. Our Virtual Engineer service can assist you with creating a CAD model from your sketch.
Once you have your CAD design, you start with an inexpensive prototype as a visual model of your product. Consider yourself lucky to be an inventor in this era. With the advent of 3D printing, it has never been easier to take a CAD model and turn it into a physical model that you can hold in your hand. In the prototyping stage of product development, 3-D printing is known to be the fastest and most efficient way to create a simple prototype part, prior to the manufacturing step of the process. 3-D printing your initial prototype can provide significant cost savings and limit risk in up-front costs.
In order to really know how your product will work before going into mass production, you will need a functional, working prototype. If your product is made of plastic or includes plastic parts, that's where we come in. We'll be able to review & optimize your design, build a mold, and use our advanced injection molding machine to give you a quality, functional prototype that is identical to the product/part you'll be mass producing. This is an exciting stage! Your idea is real, you’re holding it, and you’re feeling it...now what?
Step 4: Test It!
The testing stage will validate if product is ready to be used by consumers. Testing your product may yield positive results or it may be a very sobering experience. Regardless, it is important to test your product from an unbiased standpoint since that is what your future customers will do. Gather together test groups that fit your ideal customer profile. Have them try out your product and ask for honest feedback.
Keep reapplying this feedback to the design until this step has positive results. Whatever you do, don’t let poor test results derail your invention. Even the most recognized inventors had to fail in order to succeed. As Thomas Edison once said: "Nearly every man who develops an idea works it up to the point where it looks impossible, and then he gets discouraged. That's not the place to become discouraged."
Read How To Turn Your Invention Idea Into A Product That Sells (Part 2) to learn how to patent, market and sell your product. Have questions or comments on bringing your invention to market? Let us know in the comments below!