In the previous post – H – How to Get Prototypes Done – we pointed to a variety of resources to find help with prototyping including local universities, local inventors groups and others.

As I alluded to in that previous post, there are countless blogs and articles written concerning prototyping for inventors – which is good. But all of the discussion creates a perception that there is a “proper” or “correct” way to get your prototypes done – which is bad. Why? Every product is unique and, therefore, prototype requirements are also unique. It may be cliche, but the best way is what works best for you.

If you know what to expect from the process, then you can feel more confident that the path you are pursuing will be productive for you.

So, let’s talk about what to expect from the process with a few guidelines:

• Initial prototypes, even if crude, are of value
• The prototype process is not a “straight line”
• Anyone who helps you with prototypes should be willing to sign an NDA

Inventors are typically detail-oriented and tend towards being perfectionists. Sometimes they worry excessively about making their first prototype “just right.” This reluctance is counter-productive and can actually slow the process unnecessarily. Just get started and better designs and answers will come along the way.

Valuable insights come from constructing imperfect prototypes and examining the result. For my Savvy Caddy wallet, I initially wanted to round the corners of the wallet to make it easier to retrieve it from a back pocket. As I examined an early prototype (without rounded corners), it quickly became obvious that rounding the corners would substantially increase manufacturing costs with minimal perceived benefit to consumers.

Anyone who assists you with constructing prototypes should be willing to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) and they should have no ownership of either your IP or your product (unless you choose to provide that to them). If they push back on the NDA, consider looking for someone else to assist you.

Stay tuned for the next post – J – Just Get Started with Your Product.