How to Make Your First Aluminum Prototype and Start Manufacturing?
Getting a great idea that wasn’t made up for now is a hard thing to do but putting it to life can be harder. A lot of people have some engineering ideas that can change the world but they don’t have the resources and the knowledge to make it. It can be a simple product that makes your life easier or something bigger, either way, you need to make a prototype and consult with a company that is able to make the exact copy.
Some companies that work on new technologies are organizing many teams that will work on making a great product. If you are an individual you might need help from professional to realize your idea. There are many manufacturing companies that can even help you with making a prototype but you need to trust them because you are lending them your idea. Always look for the best people to help you out because sometimes the product is more important than a large profit.
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Choosing the Aluminum Grade
The type of aluminum for your prototype matters a lot and there are many calculations that need to be made. There are also many alloys which are separated into 8 series. Each one of them has its advantages and disadvantages. You need to visualize what your prototype will need, which part needs to be stronger and where you can save money on manufacturing. It’s hard to find an ideal type so many products are made out of combinations.
Some of the qualities that are most important are formability and weldability. You would want a strong connection when you are welding parts together. Other important features are the strength, heat treating, corrosion resistance and machining. You can find a whole table online where they have all the needed information about the alloys and in which industry it is used for. This will give you better insight into materials, which your manufacturer should know more about.
Sketch and Design
Having a plan in your head and putting it on paper are two very different things. It doesn’t matter if your drawing skills are bad, you would need a prototype drawing. You will be able to visualize it better and the people you are working with will also better understand it. New ideas might come up when you see the sketch for the first time.
Making the design will require some specialized training. Most prototypes are made in Computer Aided Design where you will be able to better visualize the flaws and what can be changed. When you finish sketching you should let someone make the design in the program and work with designers to make it more appealing. If you are hiring someone then ask for their past work so you can know they are well suited for the job.
Building the Prototype
After you finished making the 3D design it is time to find someone that will make the prototype. This will include labor cost, assembly, and molding. Everything depends on the model you want to make and what it involves. There are smaller companies who won’t be able to make something complex so always look for a company that worked on a similar project to yours. It can be really expensive and the biggest problem is if it doesn’t work as you wished.
You might think about your budget a lot because many things can go wrong. Maybe you will need to change the material that you use which can be the biggest expense. That is why many people turn to companies instead of freelancers for their designs. Always check twice after making the first prototype. If you don’t have a patent then get a non-disclosure agreement from a designer or the company before they get hired. A non-disclosure agreement is very important because it will protect you from people that would like to steal your patent. Read more here.
This is a very demanding process where you have to make important decisions. The first part is the license agreement where you are allowing a third party to make your patent for some amount of time. It would be great if you have your own company that can make such a product but most people that invent a product will need a company that will do manufacturing for them. A percentage of the sale will go to the company that is helping you out.
There are a lot of firms that are doing a job like this so choosing the right one may be difficult. Better ones will ask for a higher royalty which is the percentage of the sales they will get. You should always be careful when you are transferring your ownership of a patent to someone else because they can easily use it against you.