I’ve designed a couple of products during my degree which have received amazing feedback from people all over the world so I want to get them produced - but I’ve reached the extent of my technical knowledge! One of the products especially has a lot of electrical/technical stuff to be figured out.
how do I go about this? I’ve emailed some design companies who might be interested but they’ve all said no because it’s not at the right stage - but I can’t get it to the right stage on my own! I ideally would like to just give it over to a company to figure out but still be a little involved. Arrgh I don’t know what to do!
Many designers find themselves in this situation as we’re always thinking of new things. Just our creative side coming out.
That said, we also tend to come up with ideas that we can’t seem to do ourselves. Basically anything having to do with electronics.
In order to pursue this, you need money. Quite a bit of it. You can contact some electrical engineering firms and speak with them. They’re used to working with inventors. Before you do, try to pull your design together as tightly as possible and provide each company with a detailed specification for the electronics. Just do your best. I’d suggest talking to these companies as I’ve worked with them in the past.
From there, you’ll learn all kind of things and they’ll press you for information on details you never even thought of. It’s all part of the development of your product. The more questions asked, the better the end result. Plus, they’ll be able to provide you with a more accurate quote for development of the electronics.
Do you want to produce your projects and spend a significant amount of time on your current ideas, or do you want your projects to get you a job so you can have other ideas about other things and get paid for it?
jdawg, you may have designed your product, but you haven’t yet developed it. It is, after all, your project. You are the only person on the planet interested enough in it to make it reality… and you’re going to have to be more that " a little involved." If there is “electrical/technical stuff to be figured out”, then you are the one who needs hire a subcontractor to provide you with the technical expertise required. Do you need a mechanical engineer? Do you need an electrical engineer? A CAD designer? Do you even know what you need? If you do not, then I submit that you haven’t really designed anything. You have an idea.
Some years ago I had a client that had “a design” for a device that was supposed to remove salt from soup; he thought that it would revolutionize the restaurant industry (Waiter, this soup is too salty!). He came to my office for an initial consultation, and when I asked him about the mechanical concept behind his idea he said, “You pour the soup into the machine, turn the crank, and the unsalted soup comes out the bottom.” Still not clear about how his concept actually removed the salt, I asked him to clarify. Somewhat annoyed, he repeated, “You pour the soup into the machine, turn the crank, and the soup comes out the bottom.” After a bit more conversation with the increasingly annoyed gentleman it finally became clear that he did not have the slightest clue how his “design” would remove salt from soup … that was a simple detail that he wanted me to work out.
Until you have viable concept (preferably a fully engineered and documented package) to bring to the table not too many “companies” will be interested in talking to you. Ideas, per se, aren’t actually worth very much.
So, my question is, “Do you know how your product functions?” If all you have is an “idea” then you will have to find a industrial design consultant, or engineering firm, to develop the product for you. It will not be inexpensive.
I’m a fellow designer (although probably many years older) and have my own products I got made and tooled up after graduating, and have had some success, so if you believe in your product and have some good feedback from trusted critics, then go for it! My suggestion, if you don’t mind sending your idea further out of the country to get done, there’s a company in Hong Kong that we work with who offers the entire process of product development. Even if you have only a concept, they can turn it into a working product. They also own their own factory in China and their own rapid prototyping department & some very good Engineers, who can continue on with prototyping a working sample of your product. You could use that working prototype to present to investors or buyers because it looks & functions like a finished product.
When you get the orders or if you feel confident enough to go further, this company can continue with tooling your product and mass-assembly. The good thing is that the owner of this company speaks perfect-English and they have many years of design & manufacturing experience in a lot of different electronic products. This was key for me choosing them, because I’ve worked with various companies in China and Hong kong, and hate wasting time communicating & correcting even the simplest details.
You can contact them for a quote and see if you can afford it. You don’t need to fly to Asia to get everything done. This company is run by a family who works hard to reply quickly and offer photos of your product development so you can follow up easily without having to see it physically. I like working with them because they offer honest and practical advice. If your product is not workable, they’ll let you know. they charge reasonably to help get a product developed and from our experience, you can trust them with your product and confidentiality. Send them a Non-disclosure agreement before disclosing your product, and ask for a quote - they’ll let you know what you need to get this product moving onto the next stage. Even if your product is merely a concept drawing, they can tell you how it can be turned into a functional product, with making it a saleable product, in mind. The best thing is the owner is an industrial designer/ Engineer who has over 30 years of experience designing and marketing consumer products worldwide, so you may get some valuable advice to make your product a success.
Try emailing this contact – firstname.lastname@example.org. They may be able to help.
We’ve had similar experiences dealing with trading companies in china. There are some very good ones who can really help turn your product into reality. You have to be very careful with IP in China though…