In the process of going from idea to product, time can be one of your biggest obstacles. No matter how eager you are to get your product to market, each step of the process takes time — which goes hand in hand with monetary investment, to say nothing of the challenges that can rear their heads at every stage. For all too many inventors and product developers, the time required to go from idea to product can be discouraging, which can further slow the process. Or, in some cases, can cause you to abandon it altogether. In fact, until recently, prototypes could take four to six weeks — or longer — to create.
Let’s start with a few things you might not know about low-volume manufacturing: First, it covers a broad range of production quantities, typically from 50 to 100,000 pieces. Second, it can be a valuable resource for entrepreneurs getting a new product or business off the ground, and established manufacturers alike. Finally, despite the conventional wisdom that part cost decreases as quantities increase, low-volume manufacturing, when strategically implemented in the right situations, can yield overall cost savings that can make a major difference in your investment costs and your bottom line.
Plastic injection molding offers nearly unparalleled versatility and quality in manufacturing. The ubiquitous nature of the process means that it’s rarely a challenge to find an injection molding manufacturing partner, whether for tooling or for the process itself — another quality that makes injection molding a popular choice for products (though finding the right manufacturing partner is a different story). The cost of a plastic injection mold can, however, often stop entrepreneurs and engineers in their tracks as they experience a bit of “sticker shock,” especially if they’re unfamiliar with the process
Amid the excitement of a new product launch — or even earlier in the product development cycle — it’s all too possible for a key step or two to get lost in the shuffle. Unfortunately, skipping even a relatively minor step can create a big hiccup in your launch, and can potentially create problems with your product and sales down the line. Remember, a product launch is much more than just “launch day” itself. The entire process — from concept to manufacturing and distribution — is all part of launching a new product. That’s why it’s key to take advantage of the resources at your disposal, in order to provide as many safeguards as possible against neglecting a critical launch step. As one of those resources, review the product launch checklist:
Failure of your injection molding part can prove to be one of the most costly production issues that you can encounter. Not only must you absorb the cost of rejected pieces, it’s likely that you’ll also need to adjust the design of your product to be more conducive to the plastic injection molding process. Aside from this additional R&D time and expenditure, this means new tooling costs as well. As the direct costs add up, your time to market is also drawn out longer and longer, creating a double-whammy to your bottom line.
When you have a new product idea that you’ve been mulling over for months or years — mentally designing it, tweaking concepts, playing with features and functions, and perfecting your vision — you’re ready to jump right into it when you make the entrepreneurial leap to making your product a reality. Working off all those built-up ideas — and passion — can be a big help in making your first product-development experience comparatively easy.
It’s a pretty awful feeling when, after seeing several defective parts released from a mold, you realize that you’re going to have to halt production and figure out what the problem is. Injection molding defects are certainly not uncommon, but that doesn’t make them any easier to deal with — especially with QA waiting, orders queuing and delivery deadlines looming.
For many manufacturing scenarios, injection molding is the best choice on many fronts: speed, cost and product reliability. The process is perfectly suited when large quantities of highly repeatable, consistent parts are needed at a relatively low per-piece cost. The versatility of injection molding does not, however, mean that it’s without potential pitfalls. Manufacturers and potential entrepreneurs with new product concepts can run into any number of problems without properly considering all aspects of the process, leading to inferior part quality, manufacturing delays and unplanned cost overruns.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur just venturing into the world of new products, or an established business or shop owner with an idea on how to expand your existing product line, the product development process holds the same excitement, opportunity and promise. The product development phase acts as a critical bridge in the manufacturing process between pure brainstorming or ideation, and the production phase of your new product rollout. In short, product development is where your concept becomes reality.