Being a manufacture of thousands of products, we have come across customers who have been in business just as long as we have and the process of manufacturing products comes second nature. Then there is the customer who has all their ducks in a row, and it’s their first time actually creating their first prototype. But, then there’s the customer who has just come up with this great idea, and comes in with his idea written on a napkin. We’ve seen it all…literally. So we thought we would put this blog post together that will be a road map for those who either need some guidance into manufacturing their parts, who need assistance in where to start before getting parts manufactured, and a hand for those who are looking to bring their product back to the US and need some refreshers of working with US manufacturers.
Step 1: Research Research….and do more Research
Before you begin looking for manufacturers, do your research on your product. Is it already out in the market? How much is it being sold for? What makes your product better? Then you can begin looking into how the product would be manufactured cost effectively. Should it be made out of sheet metal or completely bored out of a billet or maybe plastic injected molding….the options are endless. But, its up to you to determine what will produce the best result based upon your research and goals…is it quality, price, durability? Do your research! You’d be surprised how much you will discover just by looking into how products get manufactured.
Step 2: Designing your part
After you have done your research and you have a pretty good idea of how your product will be fabricated, it’s time to do more research…..research on a product designer. Sure, it may sound expensive having someone formally design your product, but this is what you need in order to have your product manufactured.
Here at VIP, there have been many times where a company will have a great idea of a product and they have the funds to get started, but they forgot one of the most important assets that will link everything together….and that’s having manufacturing drawings. Manufacturing drawings are a 2D mock up of your product, what it’s made of, it’s dimensions, the finish, and how it gets assembled. It’s essentially the blueprint of your product. Every manufacturer needs them in order to quote pricing and to manufacture. So before you spend a long journey finding a manufacturer, be sure you have manufacturing prints!
Step 3: Outsourcing
Like most successful companies, outsourcing their product for manufacturing is the most cost-effective and economical way to make your product. Unless you have thousands of dollars to open up a shop, buy all sorts of equipment, and hire employees just to manufacture your product, most companies do not make such a huge investment. Outsourcing can include a OEM manufacturer who completely fabricates, assembles, and packages the product, or just finding suppliers to outsource certain aspects of a product.
A successful product comes down to how its manufactured. It determines the quality and the price of your product. For businesses, investing in a good manufacturer will make or break your product and/or your business. Manufacturers need to be looked at as a partner in regards to your product. So looking and finding the right manufacturer based on your needs should be your one of your biggest goals.
One important thing to keep in mind when looking for manufacturers and suppliers is the quantity you will be ordering and how soon you want parts. Here at VIP, since we are a large manufacturer, we cater to companies with production quantities and so our shop floor is set up to cater to production. So when a start-up company wants us to make a prototype and have parts that week, we are not a good fit for them. So check with the manufacturer on their lead times and the types of quantities they are set up for. Most of the time, it is best to go to a small shop that is well suited to do prototypes then move on to a larger manufacturer once your order quantities ramp up.
Step 4: Design input
Once you have found a supplier or two that you are interested in, the next step is to gather all your information (drawings, price range, order quantities/annual quantities) and meet with the supplier to see if your product, as it is currently designed, is cost effective and fit within their capabilities. Many times, manufacturers will provide you with useful insight on minor changes that can drastically improve the cost of manufacturing. For instance, here at VIP, we often see products that have custom shapes cut out into sheet metal which can incur expensive tooling costs. However, by recommending our in-house tooling that is similar to and serves the same fit, form, and function for the part, we have helped out customers save thousands of dollars just by making that slight change. Which is why it is also a good idea to talk about realistic quantities that you will be ordering to determine if purchasing custom tooling is a better option. It is always a good idea to speak with your manufacturer about making your product an easy fit for their capabilities and the tooling they have in-house.
Step 5: Manufacturing your product
Once you have your design finalized with manufacturing drawings, a good idea of realistic quantities, and a manufacturer that is suited to your needs, the next step is to get your parts quoted. In the manufacturing industry, we refer to this as an RFQ (request for quote). Once you have agreed to the manufacturing costs, it’s time to place a PO and begin the fabrication process! We always recommend prototyping your product first to see if changes need to be made before you begin manufacturing large quantities. Refer to Prototyping vs. Production vs. Mass Production to learn more.
Thanks for reading along, and we hope this blog post help to set you in the right direction. If you are looking for a quality metal fabricator, please visit www.Vista-Industrial.com to learn more!
For more information about manufacturing prints, check out these articles: