Getting an invention from a mere idea to a fully finished product takes time, patience, and a little bit of help. Working with inventors for more than 10 years made it perfectly clear how important prototype development truly is within the invention process. Below are steps that should be taken in order to get an idea made into a prototype.
Make a rough prototype yourself, using a simple materials like paper, craft sticks, or clay. The purpose of this step is to make certain the product will function as planned.
Revise the prototype if necessary. You may want to remake your personal prototype several times before it is ready to pass on to the next step.
Decide what type of formal material you want the working prototype to be made from. It does not have to be made out of the same material as the finalized product. However, it must be made from a material that will allow it to function in the same manner. Prototypes can be made from clay, rubber, plastic, wood, metal or any material that will allow it to function appropriately.
Identify individuals who could develop the working prototype. For example, if it can be made from plastic, contact a local plastic manufacturer. If it can be made from wood, contact a local carpenter. Vocational-technical centers and colleges or universities are great resources for identifying these type of individuals. So is your state’s local Small Business Administration (SBA) office. All of those agencies are somewhat familiar with the invention process and know how to best assist inventors.
Choose a prototype developer to use. Have him sign a confidentiality agreement before showing him the copyrighted technical drawing. Finalize arrangements for the prototype’s development.
Use the working prototype to make certain that it functions as intended. If not, revise the idea and/or the prototype as many times as needed before moving on to the next step.
Revise the original copyrighted technical drawing if necessary before moving on to the next step.
Use the working prototype to approach one or more manufacturers about production of the item. The chosen manufacturer is the best individual to produce the final prototype.
Use any and all resources that are available to you such as local colleges, universities, and technical centers. Local SBA offices may have the names of successful prototype developers in your area. Your choice of prototype developer should be based on who can best do the job, rather than who is the least expensive or most convenient. Be sure that the final technical drawing is amended appropriately to reflect any and all changes that have been made during the invention's development.
Have the technical drawing of the invention copyrighted before showing the invention idea to anyone. Do not patent the invention until all of the problems have been worked out of the idea. Have anyone with whom you discuss the invention sign a confidentiality agreement ahead of time. Do not settle for a prototype that doesn’t function exactly as the final product should. Doing so will make it more difficult to find a manufacturer for the item.