If you've come up with a great invention you want to sell to the masses, the first step is to make a prototype. This allows you to visualize your invention in real life and see how well it functions. You may need to make alterations in the design until you're satisfied with the end result. Once the piece performs as you imagine, it's time to have it mass produced. Here are a few tips for bringing your design to life through the process of fabrication.
Start With A CAD Design
While you may initially draw your design on paper, to create a prototype, you'll need a CAD file to load into the fabrication machine that then cuts or punches your piece out of sheet metal. A CAD file is a 3-D image of your invention that contains specific information such as width, length, angles of curves, and overall shape. You can use CAD software yourself to create an image that mirrors what you have in mind, but you'll want a professional to finalize the design to make sure it will work properly and efficiently in the fabrication process.
For instance, you can control costs by keeping bends in the same direction, so the piece doesn't have to be reoriented frequently. Also, the size of rolls and the number of curls, bends, and holes might affect the performance of the piece once it's made, and also they also affect the cost.
Choose The Material
If the prototype is for visual purposes only, then you may want to go with aluminum since it is more affordable. However, if you want the part to be fully functional, then you'll want it made to the same specifications that you'll make the mass-produced run. The advantage to having a fully functional prototype made even though it costs more is that you can test it as it will be used in real life. When you're ready to have the piece made on a mass scale, consult with a professional on the best type of metal to use for your project so your buyers will be pleased with the product they buy.
Prepare For Mass Production
Once you're ready to take your invention to the marketplace, you'll need some inventory on standby. On the one hand, the more you have made at once, the lower the cost will be for each individual unit. On the other hand, you don't want to buy more inventory than you can move. You may want a short test run to see how well the item sells before you invest in a huge inventory. However, you'll want to discuss the process with the sheet metal fabricator to get an idea of lead time.
If you can expect a quick turn around on your order within a matter of weeks, you may be willing to pay more per piece since you can buy fewer up front and order more as they are needed. Once the CAD file is in hand, and the prototype has been made and approved, a lot of the work is done, so following runs of your order should be filled more quickly.
Contact a company like Varitronics Sheet Metal Fab for more information and assistance.