What good is a product idea without a prototype? And what good is a prototype if its quality is questionable?
These are the questions people with ideas often ask themselves after they’ve decided to do business with an overseas manufacturer, where attention to detail is an afterthought and reconciling problems is problematic if not impossible.
They ship their ideas overseas in search of lower prices or a manufacturer willing to work a small run, and they end up with an inferior prototype or product.
They usually wind up wondering why they didn’t work with a manufacturer in the United States—and how you go about finding a U.S. manufacturer to make your prototype idea in the first place.
There are two answers to the questions.
First, most people erroneously believe that China or another country is the place to go for manufacturing, when, in fact, the U.S. is still the international leader with 22 percent of the share (compared to 16 percent for China), according to the National Association of Manufacturers.
Second, finding a U.S. manufacturer to make your prototype involves three steps:
1) Understand the industry. Before approaching a manufacturer, make sure to have a clear understanding of materials and methods that are used, as well as which are best for your product or prototype. This allows you to spend your time on the manufacturers that have capabilities that align with your needs.
2) Have a plan. A business plan, or at the very least a one-page summary of your product or prototype, will make it easier for you to vet prospective manufacturers. They’ll be able to quickly assess your idea and needs, and you’ll be able to quickly determine whether or not they are right for you.
3) Ask for ideas. One of the best ways to find a U.S. manufacturer to make your prototype idea is to ask people who have already gone through the process for suggestions. Most companies are willing to share information with aspiring entrepreneurs.
In addition to these ideas, you can contact PDS to find out if it’s right partner for your project.