How to Choose a Manufacturer for Your Prototype

Owning and managing your own business and creating fresh, interesting new products for your market is an exciting position to find yourself in. But in order to make sure that you succeed when launching any kind of new product line.

You should manufacture unique products that appeal to your market. Because of this, it’s crucial that you are able to adequately test your products by building prototypes and ensuring that the finished product is completed both quickly and to the best standards.

In order to achieve this, you need to make sure that you are working with the right prototype manufacturer. Here are some of the main factors to look out for.

Small Minimum Orders:

When you are just starting out looking for a prototype manufacturing service provider to create a prototype of your product, it’s best to look for one that offers small minimum orders.

All manufacturing companies that take custom orders or metal product manufacturers will have a minimum order quantity (MOQ) requirement that you’ll need to adhere to in order to work with them.

This can range between one hundred to ten thousand pieces, so find one that best fits with your budget and the minimum amount that you need in order to effectively test the product.

Staying within your budget is crucial if you run a small-scale business, so look for a prototype manufacturing company that only requires a small MOQ to make going to market easier.

Molds and Tools:

Bear in mind that with this product, you are creating something new that’s never been done before. Because of this, you will need to look for a custom manufacturing company to make your prototype, and they will also need to make molds and tooling in order to create the product.

If you want to get the prototype out as quickly as possible, look for a company offering rapid online tooling services like Rapid Direct. You can find their website at and they provide a range of online CNC machining.

Prototype machining, and sheet metal prototyping that you can order online. The firm offers an online manufacturing platform, meaning that you can find practically everything you need in one convenient place.

Bear in mind that the price of tooling and molding can range between $1k to $250k, or even more depending on what you need. A reputable custom prototype manufacturing company will usually try to lower the cost of investment for you so that you can invest more in actual product development and marketing.

Lead Times:

Shorter lead times are another factor to look for when choosing a prototype manufacturer. Whether you’re looking for a metal product manufacturer for your prototype or the final product.

They should be able to produce a fast turnaround time. You are definitely going to run into problems like increased returns and refunds if you are unable to get your product produced in time for pre-orders to be delivered, for example.

You should opt for a prototype manufacturing company or product manufacturing company that’s able to deliver a continuous supply of products and ensure the continuing success of your business.

Billing and Breakdown of Costs:

You should opt for a manufacturing company that is able to help with the breakdown of the costs of materials. Regardless of what is used, it’s essential to be completely aware of the cost of every material that is used, from the smallest to the largest items.

Any good prototype manufacturing company will always be completely transparent in terms of the costs of tools and materials,  providing you with a complete breakdown of everything used.

Quality Checks:

It’s also worth asking any prototype manufacturer to explain how their quality assurance process works in terms of the finishing and transport of your products. The use of computer numerical control (CNC) manufacturing, for example.

Can have a significant positive impact on the quality of your product. Companies that make use of this process are often categorized as CNC machining or CNC manufacturing companies and may provide online CNC services, too.

These types of companies are often the best choice to make as you can be assured that since they use automated rather than man-operated production lines, they will be the most reliable, consistent choice.

Past Work:

Many prototype manufacturing companies will have a portfolio, and this makes it easier for you to see and review what they have done beforehand. You can take a look at portfolios first to determine whether or not the services that they offer to match up with your needs and requirements.

Check out whether or not they have worked on something similar in the past or whether they specialize in a certain type of product or service that is in line with what you need. Be sure to check the quality of their past work when reviewing their portfolio, too.

Ideally, the company should already be making goods that are very similar to your own; this means that they have a solid understanding of your market and know what is needed for success.


Whatever company you choose, they should definitely offer consistent communication with you throughout the process. Speaking to different people at different times throughout the prototyping and manufacturing process can be confusing and slow things down.

So a good company will always know the importance of assigning one point of contact. This allows things to be as efficient as possible and allows you to develop a strong working relationship with one another. This lowers the risk of information getting lost along the way.

ISO Compliance Standards:

When it comes to the engineering and manufacturing industries, ISO compliance standards are extremely important. Choosing a company that meets them will give you peace of mind that they are adhering to higher standards than most and can guarantee higher quality assurance when producing your prototype.

Along with this, do some research on the general reputation of the factory. Do they work with major retailers or brands? Do they have any regulatory fines or infractions in place? What are their labor policies if it is located overseas? How high is the turnover rate?

Before Hiring a Company:

Whether you’re still looking or have found the perfect factory to produce your prototype, make sure that the following steps are followed first:

  • Market research: Making sure that customers will be willing to buy your product can save you a lot of money and time further down the line. If customers aren’t willing to buy it.
    Avoid manufacturing it as it is and make adjustments if necessary. If your customers are on the fence, going ahead with the prototype will help you determine where changes need to be made.
  • Licensing: Determine whether you are going to produce and sell the product yourself or whether you will license the idea to another company who has the means to handle it.
    This is like renting out your idea – the other company will handle everything from manufacturing and marketing to distribution and you will be paid royalties based on sales.
  • Intellectual property: Finally, you might want to register for a patent, buy a trademark or copyright your work.

When it comes to finding a manufacturer for your prototype, there’s a lot to think about. Keep these factors in mind to ensure that you find a company that’s trustworthy, reliable, and produces quality work.

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