How do I make my idea into a product?

A question we are often asked is: I've got this great idea, how do I go about making it into a saleable product?

Is it a viable product?

Before we get into the design, there's two things to consider.
1-Make sure your idea is really new and that someone isn't already selling one. If there's already something similar out there it will be very hard to persuade people to buy your new unknown device, and also you may run into problems with patents (which can protect some aspects of a design).
2-Work out how much you think people would pay for your device. This is very important when it comes to deciding if it will actually be worth making and selling.

Of course, you may be intending to use your new device as a one-off or to solve a particular problem for a small group of people. In this case the commercial aspects need thinking about differently.

How much will it cost?

This is where we get involved. We will need a description of your proposed device, how it will work, what controls it will need to have, what inputs and outputs it will have, how it will be powered, and what it should look like (including what size it needs to be). A few sketches and block diagrams can be useful here, but we are also very good at talking your idea through to work out the information we require.

You also need to consider how many you think you might sell, as something which will sell a few hundred units is designed differently to something which will sell a few hundred thousand units.

Having all this information, we will give you a price for designing the device, and an estimated cost for building each device when it comes to production (it's hard to give an exact production cost until the design is partly done).

Do I want to proceed?

You now need to consider if the cost of designing it and producing it fits in with your plans. If you think people will only pay £20 for it, but it's going to cost £20 to make, clearly there is no profit to be made here! Generally speaking, the production cost needs to be about a quarter of the final sales cost. Also you will have to recoup the design costs somewhere along the line.

Design and manufacture

If you decide to go ahead, we will design the device and build a working prototype. We sometimes build more than one prototype so you can show them to potential customers.

There is normally some tweaking to be done at this point as you may discover that it would be better to do things a slightly different way, or customers suggest an additional feature, or something didn't work as you expected. We will work these changes in, either modifying the first prototype or sometimes building another if needed.

Once the design is working as you require, it is ready to be manufactured. If you want us to handle this we have a selection of reliable contractors we can use, or we can pass all the information over to you for you to do it. Normally you would make a relatively small batch of units the first time while they are introduced onto the market.

Design support

We are always available to support you through the manufacturing process to deal with any issues which might show up either during manufacturing or from end users (some usually do).