Manufacturing products is an exciting process, but can be tricky if one is new to manufacturing. Product features usually need to be optimized before manufacturing.
The amount of analysis and modifications highly depends on the manufacturing process selected, which in turn is dependable on the production quantity required. Sometimes even all factors could be satisfied with an affordable process, it is better to choose more costly ones to obtain higher qualities.
One of most common examples is producing office wares using acrylic sheet cutting verses producing the same products using plastic injection molding. The first has almost zero tooling cost, while the second has a considerable investment upfront.
The acrylic cost per piece is relatively high, but for small productions it is very affordable. On the other hand, injection molding costs thousands of dollars upfront, but renders larger quantities at a lower cost and higher quality. In that case, no matter the quantity, if quality is the main goal, injection molding would be chosen over acrylic cutting.
If you are a great inventor focused on creating great concepts, a start-up with a cool prototype, or a company that is new to mass production, chances are you will need to perform the following steps to get your product into manufacturing.
- Analyze the design and materials of your product
- Compare available manufacturing processes against quantity and quality required as well as cost of each process
- Optimize the design to suit the selected manufacturing process and select suitable tolerances
- Find a suitable supplier, communicate your design needs, and negotiate price
Alternatively, you can modify similar OEM products to match your product concept or use prototyping techniques to produce a small quantity, e.g. 500 units.