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What Should it be Made of?!

    • 18 posts
    May 21, 2007 10:22 PM EDT
    Hi,
         I`m routinely impressed by people on these boards.  Everyone here has made good points and suggestions. 
        There are all kinds of plastics:  PP, PE, ABS, PVC, Vinyl, Nylon, and the list goes on.  They all have different characteristics and are used for different applications.  To get a very basic idea, try looking at similar products that are on the shelves and see what they`re made of.  If there is nothing "similar" to your product, try to think of products that undergo the same use, conditions, duress, that your product will.  That is how you go about specifying a material in the product development process--you specify the requirements.  It must be this hard, this malleable, withstand this amount of heat, etc...
           I would have to agree with BrandAlchemy.  If your product is not very high-tech and doesn`t require very short lead times, it`s likely you will need to find a manufacturer in China or overseas in general to ramp production. 
          You may or may not need to have a prototype made here.  It depends on how finalized your product design/concept are and on the product.  Your home prototypes might suffice just fine for getting manufacturing quotes.  We`ve worked off hand-drawings to get quotes on some products and have made "looks-like, works-like" prototypes overseas for metal products, plastic products, and textile products.   If you do have the prototype done here--make sure your manufacturing contact is in the communication loop.  I have run into cases where the processes and materials that designers, prototype manufacturers, and manufacturers have specified here, cannot be found or don`t make sense overseas.  So you might want to double check if you feel they are calling out exotic or expensive materials or very high tech processes.   Getting something designed to be beautiful here and getting  your product made overseas can be two very different questions. 
          Feel free to shoot me an email if you have more specific questions that you want to bounce off of someone with some product development and sourcing experience.  My email is Audall@productgss.com.

    Cheers,
    Ashton
    • 2 posts
    May 21, 2007 11:42 AM EDT

    Hi there,

    I am new to the forum, and can be described in all manner of novice terms...wet behind the ears, greenhorn, beginner, freshman....so I apologise for possibly asking questions that have been asked a million times before!

    My friend and I have been conducting home-spun market research, are in the process of having a utility patent prepared, have made our own prototypes, and are now looking at the daunting task of writing `Business Plan Version 1`.  It occurred to us however, that we`d really need to find out about manufacturing and cost viability etc before we take this any further.

    The problem is, how do we find out what our product could even possibly be made of?!  We have been trying to research local plastics manufacturers who might work on a finished product with us and even create a short-run of units we could try to sell on our own, but we are not even sure if it is something that can/should be plastic.  How do we find someone to look at our idea and say....`yip, this is definitely a plastics idea, or, nope, other materials might be best`?

    With very little cash to work with, there may be some avenues closed to us, so how could we go about this?

    Thanks for any responses in advance.

    • 2 posts
    May 22, 2007 5:47 AM EDT

    Thank you, thank you, for all these suggestions.  You have no idea how invaluable it is to find relevant advice based on real experience.

    There are no products out there that perform the same function as our idea, but some that skim across one small aspect or another.  We could definitely do more to examine what these items are made of, although from initial inspection it varies from wood, to plastic, to reinfrorced paper products (an combinations thereof).  We had been concentrating on finding out who makes them rather than paying great attention to what they are made of, so we`ll get on that suggestion.

    Taking our prototypes to the local college is an interesting idea.  I could pitch it to the instructors as a learning experience for students and see if they bite.  Our prototypes do indeed look very similar to what we expect the finished product to look like and function as (with slightly different dimensions - the size was dictated by the materials we could find), so it might prove a help to have something as tangible. 

    Ashton - I would be eager to take you up on your offer of some additional advice.  I`ll first take a look at some of the other points you mention to have all my ducks in a row before contacting you.

    Thanks again for all the responses, I am looking into every one.  Your advice is much appreciated.

    Zoe.