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Inventors: Questions to ask your future molder

Start by answering the following questions for your project:

Non-Disclosure
Do you have a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that you want each molder to sign?

Engineering

  • Do you have 2D or 3D CAD drawings?
  • Do you have a prototype?
  • If so, what kind of prototype do you have?

Quantity

  • How many parts do you expect to order each year?
  • Minimum?
  • Maximum?

Use

  • How will your product be used?
  • Are there environmental elements that should be considered (such as sun exposure, temperature variations, electrical use, etc.)?
  • Is the product used for human consumption (food container, drink container, etc.)?
  • Is the product a medical product?
  • What color(s) are you interested in?
  • Do you know what kind of resin you would like to use?
  • Are there any other parts or assembly required?

Timing

  • How quickly do you need your project?
  • Are you trying to develop it for a tradeshow or event?

While these questions are very important to ensure that each of your potential vendors has the same information when quoting your project, it may help to provide you with an explanation of why each of these questions is important.

Q: Why is a non-disclosure agreement important (NDA)?
A: Most manufacturers won’t steal your idea, but for your benefit, it’s always best to request a NDA. We are happy to sign an NDA before you discuss your project with us. Click Here for a sample NDA for your review. We are not lawyers and can not tell you if this NDA is appropriate for your situation. We recommend you consult with an attorney who represents your best interest for an NDA the protects you and your product.

Q: What are CAD drawings?
A: Computer-aided design (CAD), also known as computer-aided drafting is the use of computers to assist in the creation of a design.

Q: Why do I need CAD drawings?
A: CAD drawings are needed for virtually every stage of your project – from prototyping to obtaining quotes for molds, estimating manufacturing costs, packaging design, and more.

Q: Where can I go to get CAD drawings for my project?
A: We can create your CAD drawings in-house or you can search the Internet for a design company. If you search for a design company, please be sure to look for a firm with plastic injection-molding experience. If they don’t understand this industry, your drawings will likely need modification once you begin working with an injection molder.

Q: Do you care who creates the CAD drawings.?
A: We’re here to help you, regardless of the stage of your project.

Q: If you create my CAD drawings, must I work with you on the rest of the project?
A: When your drawings are complete, we will supply you with printed hard copies and electronic copies. Once you pay for them, they’re yours. We would like to work with you on the entire project, but the decision is yours.

Q: I have a homemade prototype that is kind of basic. Is it enough to get started?
A: We will use your prototype and information from our discussion to start the CAD design.

Q: I have a hand sketch of my idea. Is it enough to get started?
A: Yes. As long as we can understand what your idea is, we can work from there. We can get started even if you only have a concept in mind.

Q: Why should I have a prototype made?
A: A prototype will allow you to test your idea and make sure it’s accurate before you go through the cost of building a mold. Often, investors and potential buyers want to see a prototype before making a commitment.

Q: How do you make prototypes?
A: 3-D printing is a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a CAD drawing. 3-D printing is achieved using an additive process, where a 3-D printing machine lays down successive layers of plastic. There are many options available, and we will work with you to determine the best method based on how you intend to use the prototype. Typically this process will take a week or less, and you will have a sample of your part to use for fit and function.

Q: Why is knowing the quantity important at this stage?
A: There are countless options available when building a mold. We ask the quantity you expect to produce to help us recommend the best method of production for your mold. If you anticipate producing a million parts, we’re going to recommend a mold that will be able to withstand that level of production. If you anticipate producing 10,000 parts, we will recommend a very different approach to producing your mold. Your quantity will help us determine such things as the type of material to use to build the mold and the number of parts to make each time the mold opens (known as the number of cavities). If you know you will need a certain level of production each month, we may recommend producing a mold that creates more than one part to meet your production requirements.

Q: What do you need to know about my product and how it will be used?
A: We ask about how your product will be used to ensure we’ve considered any unique requirements you may have. For example, we need to know if the resin we use for your product needs to meet any specific requirements – such as being able to withstand extreme sun exposure or use in a medical product.

Q: Why is it important to know the color(s) of my product?
A: The color of resin often drives pricing and availability.

Q: My product needs assembly and may have some metal components. Can you still help me?
A: We have many sources for components, and we offer assembly and packaging services.

Q: How long does the entire process take?
A: Every product is different and every inventor has different requirements. If you have a specific target date, please let us know and we will develop a schedule to try to meet your due date. It can take 8-16 weeks from our first meeting until you have your product in your hands. Much of this time depends on how quickly you are able to provide feedback or approval.

Manufacturing overseas can be tempting because of the perception of lower prices. But there are some important things to consider when you look to an overseas manufacturer:

  • What are the exact materials being used to build your mold? You may want to compare those materials to American-made materials.
  • Discuss the strength of your patent if an overseas supplier decides to duplicate your product.
  • Request a quote for shipping the mold to you. You may find there are significant costs with importing and shipping the mold, or you may find that you can’t wait the approximate 6 weeks it will take for a less-expensive means of shipping.

There are many other considerations when evaluating whether overseas production is the best option for you, but these are some of the most frequent challenges that we’ve heard from inventors. We would be happy to discuss the benefits and challenges you may encounter.


Are you ready to move forward? Please complete this form and submit it to us for evaluation. Based on the number of requests we receive, it may take up to 48 hours for us to respond. We appreciate your patience and look forward to helping you navigate this process.

 

 

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