Common Questions When Starting Out

Sep 13, 2020

Where to begin?

For many aspiring designers and inventors, the hardest part of the product development process is actually the beginning. There are so many questions that come with new and unfamiliar territory. These are just a few we have heard throughout the years. If you have a question that is answered from this post, great! If not, contact us at Freeform Polymers to learn more.

What is the process for an aspiring product designer to turn their idea into a marketable product?

First, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to make and what it will be used for.  With that idea, we can then project that into a digital format. With the digital format, we can then modify and adjust to DFM (Design for Manufacturability).  Following design, it’s recommended to prototype. Once your product is tangible and in your hands, real-life feedback begins.  How it feels, looks and performs is immediate and adjustments to the design can be made. Finally, manufacturing begins.

How can an entrepreneur cut costs when starting out with limited runs of products for research and/or initial sales?

With the advent of 3D printing and other prototyping services, small lot manufacture is possible. While the price per part will be higher, the overall cost will be lower and allow the entrepreneur to conserve resources for other costs and future growth.   The key is to find a partner that can assist you through this entire process. We have a current customer that has had to work through four different suppliers just to get to the market, sometimes having to rework things to satisfy the next supplier’s expectations.

What mistakes do you see product people making when choosing their manufacturer?

Time and time again, we see people choose the lowest priced option.  The old adage, you get what you pay for, applies to product development and manufacturing as well.  It is important to know your price points and not to hesitate to pay just a bit more to mitigate the numerous risks associated with overseas manufacturing.  The costs associated with delayed orders and poor quality will cut into your margins a lot faster than a slightly higher price.

What are the key benefits that Freeform Polymers and other domestic manufacturers have over international manufacturers? 

In the recent Product Power Up show in Logan, UT, we heard horror stories about both U.S. and international manufacturers.  There are a lot of factors to consider when looking for someone to manufacture your design ideas, such as cost, location, and facilities available. Obviously, there are both good and bad manufacturers in the U.S. and overseas so this list does not apply to every situation, but on average these are the results we see the most.

    • Accessibility – Communication is much easier with domestic manufacturers.  Many designers wish to take a hands-on approach to their product development.  Receiving design feedback and making changes can be difficult when working with international manufacturers.

    • Quicker turn-around time – Domestic manufacturers allow you to get your finished product sooner with shorter shipping times.  Shipping costs are less expensive as well.

    • Low minimum order quantities – Domestic manufacturers are generally flexible enough to handle smaller production jobs with intricate design details.  International companies often have a large required production number in order to justify some shipping costs.