Do you feel like you have worked so hard to move your invention along, and now you are just stuck? Do you just need some guidance as to where to go from here?
This newsletter series will help you to understand the normal progression of the invention process, while helping you figure out where you are and what you need to do in order to move forward.
The steps are going to be broken down into four phases:
- Phase One: Research
Phase Two: Development & Realization
Phase Three: Presentation Material
Phase Four: Pitching to Companies
Each week our newsletter will cover another phase in this process, explaining each step and what should be completed before you move on to the next step. Last week’s newsletter covered necessary research. This week will discuss the steps to make your product real.
Time and/or money spent on each step will also be explained, so you know what to expect. In some cases, you may be able to do things on your own, but you should expect it to take more time because you are saving money. When paying for services, you are paying other people to do them for you, so your time spent should be significantly decreased.
Phase Two: Steps 4-7
Step Four: Engineered Drawings
Time: 60-150 Hours
Unless you have the qualifications necessary to create these yourself, I would strongly recommend hiring a professional to help you. With high-quality engineered drawings, your patent will be crystal clear, reducing the chances of someone being able to profit from your idea.
Along with strengthening your patent, an engineer, familiar with developing new products, could help you to make your idea better than what you originally though it could be. By adding a switch here or coming up with a way to make it not need a switch at all, your product could be more successful because you had help from an engineer when developing your product.
Not only do they have experience with new products moving to market and knowing how to make a product market-ready, but experienced engineers know the manufacturing process and can help you to create a product that will be profitable. They have the ability to let you know which materials would be good to use because they cost less, or which design is best because it requires less complex machinery to make it.
The drawings that you receive from an engineer should be manufacturing ready. They are also able to tell you how much it is going to cost to manufacture your product based on the drawings. It is important to make sure that you see examples of their previous work. For around $5,500 you should receive manufacturing ready drawings with detailed images of the product and all of its components.
*Depending on the complexity of your product, your price for drawings will go up, and the opposite may be true for more simplistic products.
Step Five: Determine Manufacturing Costs
Time: 20-50 Hours
Whether you choose to contact several manufacturers for this information or you have an engineer run the numbers, it is extremely important to know how much it going to cost to make your product real. For those of you who will work with an engineer, make sure to work with someone who will provide you with manufacturing costs based on the drawings.
In order to do this step yourself it will require that you have already worked with an engineer to some capacity and can explain to a manufacturer a detailed description of your materials, machinery necessary, and product components. You will start by contacting small manufacturers that are willing to do custom projects. Provide engineered drawings in order to receive a quick and accurate quote. When they do quote you, ask for the lowest quantity they would produce at a time for you. Also, find out how the costs change as the quantity increases.
Another very important question to ask is what their terms are. You should look for a manufacturer who is willing to provide you with 60-90 day payment terms upon receipt of your product. This will become very important if you decide to sell your product on your own as many retailers pay on 90 day terms. Not having terms lined up with your manufacturer to match your receivables could cause a cash crunch.
* If you feel uncomfortable contacting manufacturers and describing every last detail of your product, then you should work with an engineer. Most new product development engineers will willingly sign an NDA, and your idea will be protected. It is okay to ask manufacturers to sign an NDA, but be prepared that most of them will not.
*Depending on the complexity of your product, your costs for services will go up, and the opposite may be true for more simplistic products.
Step Six: Build Prototype
Time: 10-200 Hours
It is crucial that you have a way for people to visually understand how your product works and what it is. This can be accomplished in several ways:
- You can create a working prototype yourself.Should you decide to do this, it needs to be done well. The prototype should look and work exactly like the product will, once it is manufactured. Use the same materials. Equip the product with the same components that it will have after production.It is important that your prototype is an EXACT replica of the product. During a meeting with a potential buyer, you don’t want to be explaining how the product will be different later.
- An engineer can provide you with 3-D prototype drawings.This is a great route to go if you are looking for a professional presentation, but are unable to spend the possible thousands it may cost for a prototype. It is especially a good idea if your product is complex. If you already have engineered drawings, 3-D prototyping is the next step.
- Have a professional build a prototype.It is certainly the best way to approach a visual demonstration of your product. The biggest benefit is that it shows an audience that your product CAN be produced, and WILL work. Typically people are more apt to prefer a professionally produced, production-quality prototype that they can hold and utilize.
*For example, think about telling a child about a really neat new toy, and everything that it can do. They may agree, but they will most likely forget about it immediately after the conversation. If you tell the child about the toy while he is playing with it, the chances of him remembering the product will increase significantly.
Step Seven: File for Protection
Time: 20-40 Hours
Money: $400- $12,000
This step is a commitment. If you have gotten this far and still believe after all of your research and development that your idea will be successful and profitable, and then it is time to patent it. The reason that this step is a commitment is because you have already spent a lot of time and money to get this far and it will take more time and more money to get the product to market.
If you do not feel able to make this commitment, or you are questioning some of the reasons to move forward, then wait.
In order to file a patent, you should seek help from a patent attorney who will help you to include everything necessary to make your patent strong. An alternative to filing a full patent is a provisional patent. With a provisional, it is important to work with the patent attorney on the dates. Once you have “patent pending” status you are committing to filing a full patent in 12 months or risk losing your patent rights.
Either route you choose to go, when you file for your patent, you need to have the drive, ambition and resources to run with it.
Once you have completed phases one and two, you will have much better insight if this invention is going to be not only successful, but profitable.
For more information about phase two, please feel free to email me at: Lindsey@IdeaBuyer.com
Lindsey Yeauger is the Product Marketing Director for Idea Buyer LLC, a new product development company that owns and operates IdeaBuyer.com- The Online Marketplace for Intellectual Property. The site gives inventors the opportunity to showcase their intellectual property to consumer product companies, entrepreneurs, retailers, and manufacturers. You can email her at Lindsey@IdeaBuyer.com.
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