This article will assist you in making plans for the procedures to take in order to get prototypes manufactured before moving into mass production, if you are going to manufacture any product in China.
Why is a prototype needed?
You may require a product concept to present to investors and start a Kickstarter campaign. In order to conduct testing (including usability testing) and confirm the design prior to going into production, you probably need a prototype that is similar to the final version of the product.
Getting prototypes made in China can be a cost-effective solution for many businesses, but there are several factors to consider when outsourcing this process. Here are some steps to help ensure a successful experience:
- Design the product
You must first create your CAD designs, PCBA schematics, and other materials. Do it yourself (or have a design company working for you) so that you are the first owner of all the plans.
Avoid making the error of letting a Chinese manufacturer handle it because they may believe that they are the sole owners of all intellectual property rights.
- Check and confirm that all the parts of your product can be made/purchased
Before a prototype can be put together, the components must be ordered and/or made. Someone needs to start sourcing at this point. It can take some time, depending on how complicated the prototype is.
It will reveal some of the technical challenges and check whether cost targets are reachable (what parts, if any, are hard to find in China).
At this point, many shortcuts are possible. Usually, the custom-made plastic and metal parts can be created without the need for pricy tooling (that comes later in the process, once there is less uncertainty).
- Package Design
A crucial element that should be included in your market research is the packaging design for your product. Customers’ opinions on design appeal should be heard in order to start out strong.
Custom product packaging in China is also not a problem. However, we advise hiring a native graphic designer in your own country to create the design.
- Research and select a trustworthy manufacturer
There are many manufacturers in China, and it is important to choose one that is reliable and has a good track record. Look for reviews and testimonials, and reach out to past clients to verify their experiences.
- Clearly communicate design specifications
Provide detailed and accurate drawings, specifications, and samples to the manufacturer to ensure that your prototypes are made to your specifications.
- Establish clear communication channels
For successful outsourcing relationship, a good communication channel is very important. Establish clear and direct lines of communication with your manufacturer and make sure you are both on the same page to develop prototypes made in China.
- Protect your intellectual property
Before sharing your design with the manufacturer, make sure you have the necessary legal protection in place to prevent your intellectual property from being copied. Consider filing for a patent or trademark, or entering into a confidential agreement with the manufacturer.
- Be prepared for language and cultural differences
China has a different business culture than many western countries, so be prepared for differences in communication styles and expectations. Hiring a local agent or interpreter can help ensure effective communication.
- Consider production and shipping costs
While outsourcing to China may be more cost-effective for prototypes, keep in mind that there are other costs to consider, such as production, shipping, and import duties. Make sure that you consider all these costs while budgetting.
- Make use of quality control measures
To ensure that your prototypes meet your quality standards, consider using a third-party quality control service, or visit the manufacturer’s facilities to perform your own inspection.
- Plan for potential issues
Despite your best efforts, there may be unexpected issues that arise during the manufacturing process. Plan for potential problems and have contingency plans in place to address them.
By following these steps, you can increase the chances of a successful outsourcing experience and receive high-quality prototypes made in China. However, keep in mind that outsourcing is not a guarantee of success, and there are always risks involved. Be prepared to adapt to changes and work through any challenges that may arise.
In conclusion, outsourcing prototypes to China can be a cost-effective solution for businesses, but it is important to do your research, communicate clearly with the manufacturer, protect your intellectual property, and be prepared for potential issues. With careful planning and preparation, outsourcing prototypes can be a successful part of your product development process.