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Prototype to Product: The Quick and Dirty

Prototype - Dragon Innovation

Get your prototype ready for production with these quick tips

You’ve taken your prototype out into the big blue world to gain feedback and insights… and guess what? Everyone loves it! But now, how do you turn this into a product?

Prototype again and again

You must refine your design through iteration. Be sure to hand build this prototype and pay close attention to the steps that take you the most time. Point out places where fixtures could help improve the process. These are the areas of the assembly that will be difficult for everyone, so change this design process now. It is much better than after the parts are on the assembly line. At that point it’s too late.

Build samples and test with users

Once you have your first samples, let people try them out. There will always be ways users interact with your product that you never thought of, and they will break it. Which can be good! You can learn more in five minutes of watching a user interact with your product than the months you spent building it.

Know your COGS (Cost Of Goods Sold)

Create your Bill of Materials (BOM) and evaluate the price of the entire assembly. Determine how much it would cost YOU to build. This will help you understand how much this process will cost you, what to set your sales price at and determine if you need to reduce cost ( hint: you probably do).

DFM/A (Design for Manufacturing/Assembly)

Your prototype might be functional and working, but is it manufacturable? The phrase I hear all the time from young start-ups are “the 3D printed parts fit just fine”. They do not account for any design tolerance or part-to-part variation. 3D printing is invaluable in the prototyping stages, but when it comes to getting your parts molded, stamped, or machined the limitations of each process come into play.

If it’s your first time in hardware reach out to Dragon at any time.

Funding

Building your product costs money, lots of money. The largest cost in hardware is usually tooling and specific injection mold tooling. Tools range anywhere from $2k for a small button, to $100k for a two shot over-molded part with internal sliders and a collapsible core (don’t worry if you have no idea what I just said, that’s a whole different topic). You need capital to build your product, there are generally two ways to acquiring this, crowd-fund or find investment (VCs, Angels or friends and family).

Don’t feel too overwhelmed. As they always say: “Hardware is hard.” But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Keep going and you’ll be on track to prototype, plan and produce your product.

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