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How to leap from Idea to Prototype

dream2realitydream2reality subscriber Posts: 1
I`m a novice inventor  .
I have a product idea and I have been keeping track of my progression on my inventor log.  I have a very basic concept drawing as well.
My issue is, how do I turn this idea stage into a prototype?  I need some mechanical engineering help and I am wondering if there are professional mechanical engineering services that advises on what mechanical parts works best, etc. for my product.  I live in Detroit area and I`m sure there are some engineering services out here.  How do I find them?  How expensive is their services (ball park)?  Better yet, are there any free services from government for small business/inventor who need engineering help?dream2reality2007-2-10 23:35:26


  • onlineeateronlineeater subscriber Posts: 16
    Try to contact your local chapter of SCORE. SCORE stands for the Senior Core of Retired Executives and is part of the SBA. Personally I would contact a mechanical engineering firm and discuss your project with them. Make sure you ask them to sign a non-disclosure agreement. If you do not and they like the idea a mech. engineering firm would have the resources to copy your idea. 
  • Innovator7Innovator7 subscriber Posts: 9
    97% of all patents don`t make money for their inventors - see http://2xfr.patentcafe.com/guidelines_owners.aspI`ve seen numbers even as high as 98%.That being said, I spent tens of year with prototype engineering.  That`s the fun part.  The hard part is to make money from protos and inventions.  It takes serious invensment of time and money to turn an invention into profit.  I suggest a basic business plan before taking the first few steps.  SCORE is most likely not for this type of preparation.  The best thing to do is to learn as much as you can about the business of inventing.In general, only inventions that solve major and universal problems can be sold to investors - those who are willing to invest their money in your unproven ideas
  • patentandtrademarkpatentandtrademark subscriber Posts: 103
    where/how did patentcafe get that number?  why do you trust that number?  If I put the following sentence on my website, would you believe it?"97% of all patents DO make money for their inventors."
  • RunesOfGaiaRunesOfGaia subscriber Posts: 0
    I am new to this site so please excuse me if this info has been covered before somewhere else.
    I have several problems regarding some inventions I have come up with.
    The most important problem is a lack of funds to have prototypes made.  I am disabled and getting SSI which is just barely enough to live on, never a penny left over to do anything with, seriously I can`t afford to even go to a fast food place for a burger once a month.
    I have seen many of my ideas eventually show up on the market, I came up with the idea for wipes with 409 on them at least a year before anything like them showed up on the market.
    My son and I used to collaberate but he passed away 5 years ago and I am alone now, so no one to even discuss things with.
    I have several ideas that are basically medical or "assistive technology" and a lot of others that are just things I come up with.
    Is it possible to find a company that would make a deal for part ownership of the idea in exchange for doing the physical part of the ideas?
    In the past I have contacted a few companies but when I read the non disclosure there always seems to be a clause that states if the company comes up with the same idea I won`t hold them responsible!  I have never gone through signing one of those ND forms since I have extreme reservations about that clause.
    Does anyone have any ideas that can help me get to the next stage?  I don`t have any collateral that would help secure a loan of any type and it`s so frustrating to see one of my ideas end up on store shelves and know that I am still in the same boat.
    Thank you for this forum and site! 
     RunesOfGaia2007-2-28 19:40:42
  • txbassguytxbassguy subscriber Posts: 0
    Having lack of capital is certainly a hinderance to many people with good ideas. Regarding the wipes with 409 - what`s not known is whether the company already had that idea in concept, test marketing, or developed in other markets. It would be difficult, not impossible, to find a company to make a deal for part ownership for doing the physical part.  ND forms protect you as well as the company you`re contacting. For example you go to XYZ widget company and say i`ve got this great idea for the next great widget that will revolutionize the market. What you don`t know is they have already been working on that idea for months or they have already did there own internal analysis on that idea and decided it wasn`t worth pursing.And depending on the idea - some mechanical engineers can charge upwards of $50 - $100 per hour depending on the task involved.
  • Innovator7Innovator7 subscriber Posts: 9
    Inventing is much like investing: lots of time and money are needed.  That`s the whole idea of a capitalist system.An invented product needs sales in quantities to make it worthwhile, given possible substitutes.  High volume sale needs low price.  Low price needs great ingenuity and/or capital investment.Successful inventions solve big problems, or get used in large quantities.Example of great invention is the MAX clip used to fasten transistors to heatsink.  It`s very inexpensive to make yet can be used in most power electronic systems.  About 10 cents each, but it`s used by the billions.
  • AshtonAshton subscriber Posts: 2
    RunesofGaia,If you`re in a position in which funds are scarce, it might be a challenge, but in the end, I think it`s better to go about developing ideas into products by boot-strapping it rather than investing a lot of money up-front (in 95% of cases).  Cash goes quick--much quicker than we usually think it will.  In the early stages of the invention process, you might have a hunch, but probably not enough to go on that you are going to make a good enough return on your investment when you go forward with an invention idea.  Professional inventors know this, so they are constantly testing their product.  Keeping costs as low as possible and spending only on the things you truly have to is the way to go.  When you have better feedback, market data, etc., that your invention will have traction in the market (and the best evidence of this is the purchase order in your hand), then maybe you look at really pouring in the money that is needed to get it going.  But when you have a PO in hand, you will have a much easier time finding people and money to help you.  So when developing a prototype--keep the products you`re coming up with simple and cheap.  See if you can make a prototype at home or if someone you know who is handy can help you.  The goal is to make something just good enough that you can take out there and sell.  The selling part, is going to be crux of your game plan.  You`ve got to sell that sucker and help people understand why they need to carry it in their stores and catalogs and how it`s going to make a lot of money for them, etc.  Maybe you just need something good enough to sell someone else on the idea that joining your team will be good for them.  Much of this is persistence. Colonel Sanders didn`t sell his chicken recipe until his 1,009th sales call (google it).  You might get burned on a few deals and get a lot of doors slammed in your face, but ideas and persistence are free--so you can create as many chances for success as you want. 
    Ashton2007-4-20 12:20:7
  • AshtonAshton subscriber Posts: 2
    dream2reality,     You may want to check with local university`s engineering depts.  I know a number of inventors who have worked with university engineering schools local to them and received free help in the way of CAD drawings, sometimes prototyping, etc.  It`s worth checking out a few.
  • T5FiveT5Five subscriber Posts: 0
    Suggestions for your next steps:
    1.  Decide what you are trying to accomplish with your design and prototype.  State your goals with as much detail as possible.  Review these a number of times to get them as accurate as possible.  Review with a trusted partner.
    2.  List your design benefits and weak points.  Be honest and critical.  Decide what areas you need to concentrate on.  Are there a few problems or do all areas need to be improved?  Think about Safety, Quality and Cost. 
    3.  Determine what type of services are required?  Do you need Design reviews, analysis or drawings?  Don`t throw money at your design until you determine what needs to be done.  Remember, more services cost more money.  Limit your scope of work.
    4.  Find the right services.  There are one stop Companies that can assist you or you can go to specialists for the service you require. Be wary.  If a Company says they are going to make you rich, look elsewhere.  You may make money, but lot`s of hard work comes first.  There are honest and dishonest Companies.  Make sure you get a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) signed to protect your interests.
    Don`t be in hurry to get to the prototype stage unless you can do it for very low cost.  The first prototype will simply show you all the things that you need to change for your second prototype.  More money!  Get the prototype design correct first.  Please know what you want before asking how much it costs.  The more general your needs, the more someone will charge to for achieving your goals.  The more specific your goals, the more limited the costs will be.
    Above all.  Enjoy what you are doing.  Good luck.
    PS:  My startup company, White North Design,  may be able to assist you.  I work in the Detroit Area.  http://www.whitenorthdesign.com</A>T5Five2007-8-19 12:58:56
  • saravanansaravanan subscriber Posts: 389 Silver Level Member
    Design and research
    Creating a product concept
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