What to Look for When Selecting an Engineering Firm or Prototype Company

Prototype development companies assist inventors in transforming ideas into finished products. However, you should evaluate the engineering firm to ensure it has the experience, ethical culture, and policies to match your requirements. Product innovation is a complicated process that starts from a thought, then market research, brainstorming, and creating a practical business plan.

Here are some critical factors that should help you choose a suitable prototype development company.

1. Level of Control on Your Prototype

Decide whether you want a prototype development company that can design a product from a mere verbal description or an organization that can improve your model. If your firm has a Research and Development (R&D) department, you will probably do most of the product customization tasks. Consequently, you will require a company that understands your design concept to perfect it.

Conversely, if you have a product idea and a vision of the tasks it can accomplish, you would require intensive prototype design services to convert a description into a functional item. A service contract is also essential to determine how much you would be involved in the development process.

2. Determine the Engineering Design Services an Organization Provides

Product development services fall into three main categories: industrial design, service bureau, and product engineering. Some companies market their services as a blend of the three groups.

Are these engineering firms different? Well, each of them offers unique services, as described below.

i). Industrial Design
These firms specialize in consumer-based prototyping processes. They improve features such as ergonomics, styling, and human interaction with the products while the client handles all the technical production and performance functions. The design services are best suited for finished products that may require tweaking to complement the requirements of clients.

ii). Service Bureaus
Inventors seeking collaboration with service bureaus have extensive control of the prototyping process, as they do much of the development tasks. The engineering firms then select particular files from the clients’ data and devise specifications customers want. The service bureaus use rapid production machines, such as SLS, SLA, and FDM, to improve the final product.

iii). Product Engineering Firms
These companies offer novel design services based on an idea. They also provide solutions to mechanical and manufacturing problems. The firms are suitable for clients who have ideas but lack the expertise to develop the inspiration into a final product.
Product engineering companies develop items based on the clients’ descriptions. The firms either contact clients frequently for development progress approval or for brainstorming the means of improving the final product.

3. Experience Level

Choose an engineering company with a portfolio indicating the prototype designing services the business has offered previously. Pick an organization that has completed design contracts that almost resemble the tasks you need to be accomplished. The list of experiences in the portfolio will help you determine whether the quality of work the company provides is presentable and whether it matches your requirements.

4. Service Cost

Prototype development can be a costly process since the engineering firm may require hiring different experts and allocating a significant part of its employees into improving your product. Thus, choose a company with a transparent billing process.
You can agree to pay the contractors a lump sum price to complete a particular development process, or you can hire the professionals on an hourly basis. The choice you pick may depend on how much input you need from the engineering firm.
The best prototype development company should list all the expenses to allow customers to assess their budget, and determine whether they can afford the development cost.

5. ISO Compliance

Choose an engineering firm offering ISO-compliant products. The ISO is a quality level that manufacturing and engineering companies must surpass to ensure they exceed the set standards and the minimum quality assurance.

6. Confidentiality Agreement

Developing a product from scratch is a tedious process that can range from a few days to several years. You do not want to spend your time, resources, and expertise developing a novel idea, but the product falls in the hands of a rival organization.
A suitable prototype engineering company should sign a mutual non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to protect each party’s interest. The client and the engineering firm can collaborate to design an NDA tailored to suit their requirements.

7. Product Development Period

Find out how much time a given company needs to complete the prototype development process. If you are developing a time-sensitive invention, you may want a company with vast resources, such as engineers in different fields, laboratories, machines, and other elements, to improve product development speed.

Consider working with one company that can offer various product development processes under one roof, such as idea conceptualization, engineering and designing, prototyping, and testing. Companies that can accomplish all these tasks can set a timeline and meet deadlines so that the product reaches the market at the expected time.
For example, may mobile phones and automakers introduce fresh products annually? Therefore, working with an independent engineering company ensures that all the tasks are scheduled for completion within a stipulated time.

The Bottom Line

Selecting an engineering firm offering prototype design services is a crucial phase to transforming an idea into a functional product. Inventors should select a company with vast experience, affordable service costs, and policies to protect the intellectual property rights of the invention. The design development company should also have the technology and experts required to complete a project in time.

After all the hard work you have invested in brainstorming ideas, creating a business plan, and conducting market research, do not compromise the quality of the prototype design firm you decide to hire. Work with the masters in the industry.