Friday, August 21, 2009

Where Do I Find a Prototype Maker?

Dear Rich: I recently developed a product out of need for someone that is severely handicapped. My prototype is working well for his needs, however, not attractive enough to market. Do I have to have the prototype professionally made to try to market it? If so, where do I begin? We're not sure what you mean by 'market.' If you are referring to direct sales to consumers, yes, you will need a professional prototype to serve as your manufacturing model since we live in a society where consumers take new product ideas seriously only if they are packaged and presented professionally. If you mean to market your idea to a company that will manufacture and sell it on your behalf (a licensing arrangement) then it all depends ... in some cases, the device's functionality may be more important than the form, and potential licensees may be willing to overlook the appearance (since they will deal with design themselves). 
Why Not Hire an Artist?
If you are seeking a license the Dear Rich Staff suggests that you consider hiring an artist instead of a prototype maker. Professional CAD drawings will provide a professional appearance for your product without the expense of preparing a prototype. As for finding a prototype maker (sometimes referred to as "model maker") use search terms such as "prototype maker"  and "model maker" at Google. You can learn more about prototype preparation here.
The Legal Notes
If you intend to seek proprietary rights to your product be aware (1) you have one year from the first public display to file a patent application or provisional patent application; and (2) you should enter into an agreement with your prototype maker assuring your ownership of the final prototype. You can find examples of these agreements in our book, Profit From Your Idea.