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Cyberdemon wrote:I would just send the design out and ask for a quote for tooling with the material you want for the tool steel. You do not need to place an order, you are just asking to request a quote.

That quote should be valid for them to deliver on assuming the design does not change. If you have not sent it to any tooling vendors, then you may need tooling feedback to modify the design.

You should be able to request an NDA be signed by the tooling vendor before you send over information. With that said, China is China, and if your design is unique and easy enough to knock off or be copied then again keep that in mind. If you have any IP in place that would help.

I would not try and make a fake model just to get a quote, it will waste both your time and theirs which any business owner would not take kindly to.
Companies I have worked for typically do multiple bid RFQs with vendors similar to what Mike is stating above. It helps if you have vendors you know and trust, or have friends who recommend them and build a relationship. Having a local representative can also help. The tooling costs can vary greatly and of course if you can guarantee a high quantity they can disappear.I would think it would also help to have some ballpark notions in mind to aid in negotiating. A great OEM/ODM will help by giving you feedback as well to make the production more cost effective.