Invention Development can make the difference between just having an idea and having a working concept or product. It is a very important part of the invention process but most inventors don't know how to approach it.
Development is the second phase of the EDM inventing process. Development includes bringing your idea to life with models and prototypes as well as protecting your idea. Protecting your invention is covered in other areas of this website so this article will focus on models and prototypes.
Having an idea is not enough. Everyone has ideas. Unless an idea is brought to life it won't hold much value. Ideas are brought to life with prototypes or prototyping model. Different products require different techniques. If you are inventing something brand new, a new technology, there will probably be experimentation involved and probably many prototypes. All great inventions and big ideas take time to develop. They never work the first time.
One example is my work on electric nail guns. When my partner and I started working on the problem there were no battery operated nail guns on the market. There were only failed examples from patent literature. For one reason or another each of the methods we found in patents were not commercially viable. That meant the solution would be difficult to find. In other words lots of experimentation and many prototypes would be required. Eventually we were able to develop a solution. Not the be all end all but a solution that would go to market.
Not all ideas are as complicated as electric nail guns. Some are very simple and just require reworking of other products and a little trial and error.
There are three areas of invention development that are important. The first is product design. You normally don't build a house without a blue print. It is the same when building a product. Before a prototype can be made someone needs to create the design. Usually someone with experience in how products work and how they are made is required. If you can do this yourself you are way ahead of the game. If you need help I would suggest working with a designer or an engineer that can create your blue print.
The next thing you will need for invention development is someone to build your prototype for you. There are various types of prototype makers who can help. They will typically use rapid prototyping processes or prototype machining to build your model. Make sure to shop around because costs can vary considerably.
There are also companies that specialize in product development assistance. This companies can be found by searching for terms such as product development or industrial design. They will typically do fantastic work that you will be very happy with. The problem I have found is that they are very expensive in most cases. Many of their clients are large companies like Black and Decker or Char Broil where cost is much less of an issue. Most inventors don't have an unlimited budget so shop around, ask questions and ask for discounts.
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