Have you ever wondered how a product gets from the factory floor and into your home? It all starts with a concept meeting and some innovative engineering.
While there are many variables involved, the average time for a product to move from concept to prototype stage is six to nine months. Manufacturing timeframes depend on materials supply, where the factory is, and how busy their production lines are.
Below, we outline the stages of the manufacturing process. So hop on the conveyor belt to a finished product!
Conceptualization and Prototyping
The adage is true. All great products start with an idea.
Maybe you have notes and sketches on paper. Perhaps you’ve mocked up a design in AutoCAD. However you have it mapped out, you need to consider the viability of your idea before moving to the next stage.
Some questions to ask include:
- Who would it be useful for?
- What problem does it solve?
- Is there a decent-sized market?
- Is anyone else making a similar product?
- What is your funding situation?
- Are materials easy to source or develop?
Conduct some research into markets, materials, and competitors to help you complete your product concept. Finally, settle the product specifications, and your concept is ready for 3D modeling and rapid prototyping.
Once you have a prototype, you’ll need to test it. Testing gives you a chance to improve and refine the prototype before investing money into the costly and irreversible production process.
Before moving on to manufacturing, you need to find out any vulnerabilities in the product’s properties–such as its strength, durability, hardness, and flexibility.
Some typical testing machinery includes:
- Bending machines
- Universal testers
- Impact and tensile testers
- Compression testers
- Sample cutters
- Hardness testers
- Abrasion testing
- Roughness and smoothness testers
Depending on the product, you might need specialized equipment. For example, if you need to test coating durability at a microscopic level on metals like titanium, you’ll need to use a powerful machine like a Cianflone Scientific XRF analyzer.
Finally, it’s time to move your tested product into the manufacturing industry. You’ll need to engage the services of a factory to produce your product.
A few things to consider at this stage include:
- Your budget and pricing strategy
- Any MOQ (minimum quantity order) requirements
- Materials sourcing
- Time-to-market timeframes, including time in the factory
You’ll need to balance time, costs, and quality. While it might be tempting to go with the factory that can produce your product the fastest and cheapest, this often means you’ll sacrifice quality.
Finally, if everything’s gone smoothly, you’ll be left with a storage unit or warehouse full of neatly packaged products. Then, it’s time to launch your product to the market!
Demystifying the Manufacturing Process
If you’re interested in developing your own products, it’s essential to understand how the manufacturing process works. Each step must be checked off the list before you can move to the next, or you’ll have an inferior quality product on your hands. That will make it difficult, if not impossible, to sell in the marketplace.
For more advice on product research and development, browse the other articles on our blog.