Questions

How do you get a product prototype developed in China sitting in the US?

I am looking to develop a prototype of an electronic gadget and ready with the design specifications. Have a few questions to people who have successfully got their products manufactured in China. How do I go about looking for companies in China that can develop the prototype for me? How much does it cost to develop a prototype vis a vis actual product cost at scale (say 1000 pieces) How is my IP protected?

8answers

There are a number of different questions here, so I'll try to answer what I think you're really asking.

My background is in electronic product development in a corporate B2B environment, so the question of 'Should I go to China' almost invariably comes up in conversation.

My first question would really be: Why China? What appeals to you about developing / manufacturing in China over the country where you live? Is it just cost?

There are a few general things to note:
1) Manufacturing (note: manufacturing) in China CAN be cheaper than first world countries like the USA or UK, but this is not always the case.
For one thing, Chinese manufacturers will produce EXACTLY what you ask them to make. If something is wrong with YOUR design, it'll be included in the final product. Few will make adjustments to correct anything that's wrong (I'm not sure if they just don't care, or it's a general philosophy, but it's what I've seen). Western manufacturers are much more vocal about identifying any issues for rectification before proceeding. Not all, but more than in China. Basically this means that if your design isn't perfect the first time around, you are going to end up with wastage in the manufacturing process. Hardware is something you don't want to be doing through 'trial and error', so make sure your manufacturing processes are spot on before going to China.

From a design perspective, product development is a highly interactive experience, especially if you are engaging with an external team (such as a Chinese one). Therefore whoever you engage with need to have EXCEPTIONAL communication skills, both in language and general ability to communicate with you. If they don't, the process is going to take months, if not years longer than it needs to, and cost a lot more as well (even if labour rates are much lower in China for equivalent talent).

I realise I haven't put a concrete value around how much it will cost, but as anyone in product development will tell you: It depends. Without having an understanding of what exactly your electronic device is, there is no way to put a number to it. I've seen simple developments start at $20k for a prototype, all the way through to $500k for a fully fledged intrinsically safe camera system. That's in US dollars, but China won't necessary be that much cheaper, ESPECIALLY if you have to fly over there for meetings with designers, manufacturers, do multiple re-spins of everything due to communication errors, etc.

2) In terms of IP, China is definitely getting better than what it was, but it's worth noting that you have to be very very clear about IP with manufacturers. You have to explicitly state in contracts that they are not allowed to make copies for their own use or sale. What is being manufactured on their line is yours, and yours alone. As the advice always is when it comes to stuff like this, talk to a lawyer.

It's also worth finding companies who have engaged with Chinese manufacturing before, to see who they've used and how they found the experience. We've been involved with In-Tech Electronics (HQ in Hong Kong, factory in Shenzhen, and speak a lot of English, which helps), and they've been very good. Some of our larger clients have also used them previously.


Answered 6 years ago

It varies and it's very very specific to what you want to develop. The concrete design of your circuit matters. Also prototype building costs are usually a factor 10-100 higher than series. If you already have your prototype then you can shop around various manufacturing companies. To do that, you need Gerber files (your PCB design) and a bill of materials. You also need to think about casing: designing it and creating the mold is expensive. If you don't have your prototype yet, I recommend having it engineered in eastern Europe. Custom engineering is cheap there and high quality. IP protection is a problem. One thing to do is to distribute the work to different manufacturers. For the design phase you are safer if you design your prototype in Europe or the US where international patent laws apply. I could give you more specific advise in a phone call, getting to know a bit better what you are trying to build.


Answered 6 years ago

I have developed & manufactured electronics in Asia for the last 20 years.

Most people go through different versions of prototypes, putting it in the hands of target users is essential, keeping your idea secret is a big mistake.You will get a lot of feedback which more often than not lead to drastic rethinks of the whole device. So I strongly suggest to go to China only after you are VERY sure what you want. At home you can iterate a lot faster. Best would be for you to start playing around yourself with Arduino, which is a very newbe friendly way to make and program hardware. If that's really not for you then find some enthusiast at a local makerspace to do it, they're all over now http://spaces.makerspace.com/makerspace-directory.
You can also quickly iterate on the housing design using free 3D CAD software and 3D printers.

Do realize that Arduino is a great way to validate your specification, but not a cost effective architecture for a mass manufactured product, so a lot of the work will need to be done all over again, see https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/kickstarter-prototype-production-100k-enough-keesjan-engelen

So don't spend months and months to get your firmware just right, to get your cost to an acceptable level you likely will have to switch to another processor which needs to be programmed in a different language.

Once you're happy with the way the prototype works I would look at manufacturing as follows:

1. China is the best place to manufacture electronic products. If only because they have the most complete supply chain in the world. https://techpinions.com/why-cant-the-us-build-consumer-electronic-products/41950 China has many thousands of factories making any kind of part imaginable. They are especially unmatched in any part which needs to be custom made: housings, batteries, PCB’s, motors, LCD’s, cables….

2. One of the keys to reducing cost, time and risk in product development is to use existing parts as much as possible. Quite a few firms for some reason still regularly have LCD’s custom made. Why pay $250,000 in set-up, and months in mold production and sampling, if you can design around an LCD which is already being manufactured in huge quantities?

3. 60% of the unit cost of a product are decided in the architecture stage, and 20% during the design. As they say at Toyota: ‘‘Skillful improvements at the planning and design stage are ten times more effective that at the manufacturing stage.’’ http://www.design4manufacturability.com/DFM_article.htm

4. Doing your design without close interaction with the China vendors means you’re missing a lot of information, which leads to sub-optimal design decisions. The further you advance in the design process, the more expensive it gets to change anything. So if 98% of a product’s design is already done and validated in testing, you can hire a really smart China manufacturing consultant, but there is only so much they can do because most aspects are frozen already.

5. Another important tenet of Design For Manufacturing (DFM) is early supplier involvement. If you need custom parts better make sure that the factory who will make them actually feels comfortable manufacturing them. This requires a lot of communication in the design stage.

6. If you’re in the US the 13 hours’ time difference and language barriers make a smooth & fast collaboration with Chinese engineers very difficult. Plus if you have never worked with the factory before they’re not going to put much time in optimizing a design they may never get to make. Only for established clients does a factory see a very real chance that they will be responsible to make the part efficiently and reliably, and so they will be very keen to help optimize your design for their processes and capabilities. The flip side is that you are optimizing your design for this particular factory, so you’d better be sure that they can indeed deliver.

7. Picking a factory is not easy, the proof is always in the pudding: how responsive are they, how do they react when there is a problem. Are they going to say: “Oooh you do not want the batteries to explode, you never specified that, well that actually costs a lot more”. You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your princess. Except that in manufacturing kissing is not good enough, you actually have to get into bed with them, only after you have wired your deposit and have been working with them for 6 months do you really know your bedfellow. This goes not just for the factory doing the final assembly, but for every factory making custom components for you. Building a reliable roster of suppliers takes many years, and a lot of “tuition”. In China going for the lowest bidder in the end invariably ends up being the most expensive option.

8. The more complex your product, the more inter-dependencies between parts, the bigger the mess trying to get a product manufactured in China when it has been designed in a vacuum somewhere else (and it’s not just Kickstarters who run into this problem).

9. The first samples for most any custom made part in most cases need some improvements. Some companies work will send their “China manufacturing guy” but it takes a lot for 1 person to master all the intricate considerations which went into the design of the cosmetic appearance, the construction of the injection mold, the layout of the circuit allowing it to pass FCC certifications, the adjustments needed in the calibration software… So at IBM for example knowledge transfer in manufacturing is considered a dirty word, the original designer of an aspect of the design has to see his design through all the way into manufacturing. Flying each of the 12 different functional experts over to China quickly becomes expensive, and not every engineer wants to camp out in a China factory dorm for months.

10. So doing electronic product design as close as possible to the factories making the parts and doing the final assembly will significantly lower your development costs, your unit costs, your time to market and overall risk.

11. The knee-jerk reaction to get this done is to asking a China ODM factory to adapt one of their products to your wishes. This can work well if your changes are minor. But if you want them to do more there are some serious risk with this approach: you don’t have any ownership of the design IP, and it more likely than not it will take ages. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/china-factory-designs-7-pitfalls-avoid-keesjan-engelen

12. If you're ready to camp out in China for a good 6 months then https://hax.co/ would be a great place to be mentored. https://www.hwtrek.com/ provides a lot of China & Taiwan resources for HW start-ups. You could also give the job to a consultancy such as www.detekt.com which specializes in helping start-ups.

13. Setting up your own design team in Asia can be tricky, the success hinges heavily on picking the right CTO to manage and build out the team. And in China this kind of talent tends to switch jobs very often, especially after they have obtained a foreign “stamp of approval” on their resume.

14. It is true that hardware can get copied very quickly, but copycats are unlikely to invest their efforts in an unproven product. So this risk comes up only after your product starts being successful in the market. By that time everybody can copy it, no matter whether you manufacture in the US or in China. In fact products manufactured in the US likely have to sell at a higher price, making them a more attractive target for copycats.

15. Furthermore, the painful truth is that excellence in hardware no longer gives your company a lasting competitive advantage, to build barriers to entry hardware companies these days need to work not just on brand and distribution, but also on Community, DataBase and Software. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/toasters-roller-coasters-how-hardware-startups-can-john-melas-kyriazi Doing this well is no mean feat, so I would focus most of your effort there, most of my clients are companies which realize that hardware no longer is their core activity.

My firm www.titoma.com works with well established companies, the reason is that 7 or 8 vendor partners put a lot of effort in collaborating with us from the very beginning to optimize every aspect of the design for manufacturing. They invest this time because from experience they know that the products we design will be manufactured with them parts for years. Unfortunately not every start-up becomes a runaway success, such is life, but I cannot afford to burn bridges with my partners, sorry!

When looking for good partners in China you will need to spend (and keep spending) a lot of effort on selling the factories on the fantastic prospects for your product, otherwise your 1K pieces project will quickly become their No. Last priority. So being there very often is essential.


Answered 4 years ago

I wouldn't develop the prototype in China for the very reason that you are worried about IP protection.

Producing products has it's benifits but it isn't always the best option, especially for product development.

I would develop the prototype here in the U.S. While protecting myself with a simple NDA.
Here's a quick article about NDA's and a free NDA template.

https://www.aireplastics.com/nda/

Next, I would hire an independent electrical engineer. I know, your probably saying that it's expensive and you're not there, etc. etc.

This will cost less than you think. Hiring an engineer will give you some VERY important things right from the beginning: A BOM (Bill of Material) and DFM (Design for Manufacturing).

A quality engineer will have experience working on projects like yours and will know the components and processes needed to efficiently produce your product. With a BOM you will know EXACTLY what materials and components your project will need and easily know how much they will cost in different quantities. Note: most of these components are produced in China so connecting the dots to a Chinese Manufacturer won't be time consuming also your manufacturer will know where to purchase quality components.

With DFM you have an exact roadmap to mass producing your product. You won't have to take the Chinese manufacturers word for it. You will present them with precise guidelines for production when sending an RFQ request for quote.

Many times your engineer will help build or point you in the right direction about building your prototype.

Even if your not ready to hire an engineer, just going through the interview process of hiring one will tell you a WHOLE LOT about your product idea.

Here's step-by-step guide to hiring design engineers and a free downloadable pdf interview template.

https://www.aireplastics.com/how-to-hire-for-engineering-design/

I would also take a look at John Teel's blog for more recommendations.

http://predictabledesigns.com

One other thing to think about is certifications for an electronics product. You will have to test the product for electronic interference, etc. at an approved lab and then apply for the FCC or EU certs.

This is a whole lot easier when your engineer knows local, compentent labs and how the process works.

After going through this process you are ready to move into manufacturing. Having all of your ducks in a row before contacting manufacturers will save a TON of time and money.

As you can see there is a lot to think about before thinking about reaching out to overseas suppliers and manufacturers.

I hope this helps.


Answered 3 years ago

If you're building in China, your IP isn't protected. You also incur travel costs, long transit times, quality issues that increase product development time, Chinese New Year shut down (for weeks), etc. and the wage gap between the US & China is closing. A lot of 'leading' companies do not fully understand the real cost of offshoring. Search 'Reshoring Initiative TCO' and use the total cost of ownership calculator. Cost is not the only reason, product development is also a factor. There's a reason why Toyota moves to local markets. It's the same reason many Chinese companies move to the US.


Answered 3 years ago

QUESTION: How do you get a product prototype developed in China?

I am looking to develop prototypes for electronic gadgets and prepare design specifications. Ask a few questions to people who make products in China. How do I find a Chinese company that can prototype me? How much does it cost to develop a prototype relative to large-scale actual product costs (such as 1,000 pieces)? How is my IP protected?

OUR ANSWER:

This is a very good question and I am very happy to answer it. You asked three questions, and I will try to answer you one-by-one.

Your first question is how to find a Chinese company that can develop prototypes for you? Generally speaking, building a successful product-centric enterprise requires innovation, time and money, and more importantly, a supplier. And it's no surprise why intelligent manufacturing has become an important choice for countries in the context of global value chain restructuring and international division of labor.

Developed countries have now stepped up their efforts to revert manufacturing and enhance the strategic position of manufacturing in the national economy. However, China's intelligent transformation seems to stand out from the competition.

The Chinese government has strengthened the top-level design of intelligent manufacturing by carrying out pilot demonstrations and standard system construction. Chinese enterprises have also accelerated digital transformation and improved system solution capabilities. In case you didn’t know, China has been slowing down from the stereotype of basic manufacturing industry more than a decade ago. The country is slowly entering the high-speed growth period of intelligent manufacturing.

The advantages of working with Chinese companies are quite obvious. China has been the largest consumer of industrial robots for six consecutive years. In fact, according to IFR (International Federation of Robotics), the size of China's industrial robot market is US$4.2 billion in 2017, accounting for 27% of the global market. It is also expected to expand to US$5.9 billion in 2020.

Domestic robot sales will be 16, 19.5, and 238,000 units in 2018-2020, and CAGR will reach 22% in the next three years. The automotive, high-end equipment manufacturing and electronics industries are still major users of industrial robots.

What are the unique advantages of choosing China? Well, the first is the amount of data. The machine learning technology behind the current artificial intelligence boom is extremely dependent on data. Identifying faces, translating languages, and experimenting with driverless cars require a lot of “training data”.

Due to China's large population and huge number of equipment, Chinese companies managed to have a unique, natural advantage in accessing data. Another advantage is that the hardware equipment and factories of Chinese manufacturing enterprises are generally new compared with European and American companies. The result of conversion to products in China likely is low cost and manufacturing speed is fast. No wonder why new technology and good quality become distinguishable traits of Chinese products.

Now, if you are looking for a Chinese supplier, please pay attention to the following points:

Use the Internet to publish and search for information using channels like Alibaba. When looking for a production partner, it's best to use the old-fashioned method. Start by sending an introduction about yourself via the email because, the web is no different from looking for an investor.

In China, Alibaba is a good resource. However, it is almost impossible to distinguish good and bad contract manufacturers. Sometimes, companies on Alibaba sell your products to other companies, even though you may have some patents.

Find an experienced person to introduce. If someone introduces you to some companies, one of the first things you have to do is to confirm that the person who introduced you actually worked with the company introduced to do business.

If that person is currently doing business with a manufacturer in a related field (for example, when you want to make a Wi-Fi sensor, the introducer is a Wi-Fi router), then the company he introduces should be the most effective.

When you evaluate a production partner, the size of the manufacturer's company should match the size of your company. Of course, everyone feels that a large manufacturer like Foxconn may be a good partner as they are able to provide high quality products. However, as a new customer with an annual sales volume of less than 10,000 units, the service they give to your customers may be very different compared to a large customer with an annual sales volume of more than 100,000 units.

Participate in various consumer electronics exhibitions. The participation in various consumer electronics exhibitions can help you meet potential manufacturers. You can set up a booth and display products, which can help you to play a role in the filter. You can introduce the manufacturer according to the degree of success. Many times, they are also looking for new business. If the show is in your country, then you don't need to jump on the plane to go to China.

Pay attention to the culture of the other party. To build a close relationship with your production partners, you must first learn their basic customs and traditions. You also need to understand the holidays of your partners, especially when they are abroad.

Keep close communication. Communication is very important in production because a small detail can either make or break your product. When you choose your partner, make sure their development and project manager speak your native language! The project manager will often contact the manufacturer, and a clear communication between the project manager and the project team is essential to manufacturing your product to your specifications.

Keep up with the progress by having a summary email. This will also help keep up with language communication to make sure everyone understands what is being discussed. Pictures and videos are an important part of the communication process and can also be used to report manufacturing defects in a timely manner. Don't worry about over-communication with partners. It's much better than the lack of communication, which can lead to catastrophic consequences.

The second question is how much does it cost to develop a prototype relative to large-scale actual product costs (such as 1,000 pieces)?

What kind of product do you have in mind? What kind of chip will be used? Do you already have plans regarding storage? These key components need to be identified based on your product capabilities.

For small batches of products, what are your testing requirements? You have to know this to know whether it is necessary to perform functional tests, stress tests, performance tests, anti-interference tests, product life tests, high and low temperature tests and other reliability and performance tests.

You can visit our website (Labx7) or contact our business people, where you can get the best overall performance and cost-optimized solution.

Your last question is about how your IP protected will be protected.

In our case at LABX7, integrity, honesty, openness and reliability are the core concepts of our cooperation with our customers and suppliers. We take the initiative to sign a confidentiality agreement with our customers and intellectual property protection. We fulfill our commitments and protect every labor results. Embracing, openness, transparency, and communication are the criteria for long-term relationships that we have built mutual trust and success, and the goal is to give our customers peace of mind.

Now, let us introduce ourselves to you, hoping to help you with your needs and product requirements. Labx7 is a global technology service innovation company headquartered in Shenzhen, China, and is a national high-tech enterprise.

As the world's leading IoT development and cloud service platform, we focus on product design engineering, development management, supplier resources, intelligent manufacturing, personalization, product distribution and other product management services to help our partners from concept to the product landed. We provide precise service at every step of the project.

LabX7 is committed to helping our partners deliver a superior customer experience, creating innovative, intelligent hardware products that enable them to maintain lasting, solid growth value and added value in the marketplace.

Visit us here: http://www.labx7.com/


Answered 2 years ago

Before I begin to answer your question, you must understand that China is at war with the major economies around the world like U.S., India, Japan, and Australia. You must understand that prototyping in China may not be safe in these times. A little over a year ago, there were growing concerns as to the sustainability of the Quad as a means of supporting the rules-based approach in the wider Indo-Pacific. Two countries that clearly stood apart from within the Quad were Australia and India, who shied away from an outright commitment to the group given the importance of their bilateral engagements with China. A speech by the Australian Defence Minister Christopher Pyne in Singapore in January 2019 made it clear that Australia was keen to avoid the implications of another ‘Cold War’ in the region, this time propelled by US-China rivalry. This statement came in the aftermath of the 2017 United States National Security Strategy paper that clearly identified China as a competitor to “American power, influence and interests”. For Australia, economic relations with China was another factor that compelled it to balance ties between Washington and Beijing. Australia is China’s sixth-largest trading partner; China is the largest trading partner for Australia both in goods and services. However, in the aftermath of Covid-19, bilateral ties between the two have been strained, particularly considering Australia supporting the idea of an independent inquiry into the origins of the pandemic. The lowest point of the ties was when Chinese state media referred to Australia as a “dog of the United States”. Similarly, India too did not initially embrace the Quad fully, given that it had a ‘China containment’ view. Even in the aftermath of the Doklam crisis in 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his speech at the Shangri La dialogue of 2018, reiterated the importance of an “inclusive” Indo-Pacific, significantly pushing the onus on a collective model of accommodation of interests and concerns.
You need to understand what type of value you need your prototyping supplier to provide. Let us assume you already have the drawings, schematics, etc. What is your need?
1. Just do it’ — most prototyping companies receive CAD drawings and a material spec, and produce some parts, without critical thinking. That’s what you can expect of most “rapid prototyping” companies because it goes straight from input into output. This is great if all you need is 1 or 2 components to play with, for a proof-of-concept.
2. ‘Review, provide suggestions, and then do’ — all designs, even if they were prepared by an experienced person, need to be reviewed and challenged (it is a ‘Design for Manufacturing” review). The prototyping process is part of the validation of the product design. If you expect this type of assistance, you need to assess the prototyping service provider’s engineering capability. This is important for the final prototype, especially for a full product that includes many parts.
3. ‘Review, suggest, do, but also check and test’ — In addition to the above, they translate your requirements into specifications and test plans, they organize those tests on the full product, and they provide their suggestions on how to get better performance/reliability. This is what you can expect from a full-blown R&D centre.
In addition, you may want to know what processes they have in-house. It is very common for prototyping companies to rely on a network of subcontractors, and this may create intellectual property (IP) control issues.
The list of companies are as follows:
1. Vowin – Shenzhen
Founded in 2008, Vowin holds ISO 9001:2015, 14001:2015 Certifications and not only provides rapid prototyping for all kinds of materials and products but also has in-house industrial design capabilities, too. They have produced parts for most industries, notably automotive, consumer electronics, and industrial parts.
• Key services provided:
1. Rapid Precision Machining
2. High-volume Machining
3. Plastic Injection Molding
4. Silicone Vacuum Moulding
5. Instant Pressure Die Casting
6. Die Casting/Stamping
7. Fast Sheet Metal Fabrication
8. CAD Design, 3D Scanning, Engineering Review

2. Soma Prototype – Shenzhen
Shenzhen’s Soma is a prototyping specialist who has experience creating prototypes for clients in digital communications, automobile, household appliances, medical devices, and more. They are focused on rapid prototyping and low volume manufacturing.
• Key services provided:
1. CNC Machining
2. Sheet Metal Production
3. Rapid Injection Molding
4. Surface Finishing
5. Aluminum Extrusion
6. Design support services? Yes, they can provide some product development advice.

3. RebondTech – Hong Kong/Dongguan
Rebond is a diversified industrial manufacturer of high-quality customized metal and plastic parts since 2005. They serve a wide range of industries, ranging from machinery, automotive, electronics to consumer goods, transportation, medical, telecommunication and more.
• Key services provided:
1. Rapid Prototyping
2. 3D Printing
3. CNC Prototyping (Turning &Milling)
4. Vacuum Casting
5. Injection Molding
6. Metal Stamping
7. Finishing
8. Design support services? Yes, they provide part design in-house upon request.

4. Able Industrial Design & Technology – Hong Kong/Dongguan
Founded in 1990, Able provides product development, rapid prototyping, and rapid tooling. They have created prototypes for clients in the rail, medical, solar, toys, automotive, and electronics industries, to name but a few.
• Key services provided:
1. CNC Machining
2. 3D Printing
3. PU Casting
4. Reaction Injection Molding
5. Sheet Metal Prototyping
6. Rapid/Production Tooling
7. Small Batch Production
8. Design support services? Yes, they provide 2D to 3D CAD translation, development of an initial idea to a full CAD model capable of producing a rapid prototype component, and project management of the whole process, from concept to production.

5. RapidDone – Shenzhen
RapidDone started out creating parts and products in 2008. They have delivered over 2000 projects among several industries like Automotive, Medical Devices, and Consumer products, and have a particular specialism in high precision CNC machining.
• Key services provided:
1. CNC Machining
2. Plastic Prototype
3. Metal Fabrication
4. Injection Molding
5. Custom Machined Parts
6. Design support services? Yes, helps with material selection, final feature design tips, and cost-saving.

6. Apt Mold – Zhongshan
APT Mold Manufacturing Co. Ltd. specializes in rapid prototyping, rapid tooling, and low-volume manufacturing as well as mass production. Unlike some prototyping companies, they also provide suggestions for DFM (Design For Manufacturability) as standard in order to optimize designs and reduce manufacturing costs.
• Key services provided:
1. Plastic Injection Molding
2. Rapid Prototyping
3. 3D Printing
4. Precision CNC Machining
5. Low Volume Manufacturing
6. Custom Metal Stamping
7. Finishing
8. Design support services? Yes, DFM in-house and product design via a USA-based partner.

7. LK-Mould – Dongguan
LK-Mould has been operating for more than 2 decades since 1998 and specializes in steel and aluminum tooling for plastic injection molded parts and products making over 500 sets of tooling each year for companies in Automotive, medical industry, electrical engineering, sensor technology, engines, and more. In addition, they hold ISO 9001:2015 and IATF 16949:2016 accreditation.
• Key services provided:
1. Injection Moulding
2. Rapid Prototyping
3. Plastic Molding
4. 3D-Printing
5. CNC-Prototyping
6. Design support services? Yes, they provide in-house mold and part design and development.

8. WayKen – Hong Kong/Shenzhen
WayKen is one of Guangdong’s more established prototyping providers with a 20+ year history. ISO 9001 certified, they specialize in prototype machining and low-volume production for custom parts, providing one-stop services from prototype to production including providing design support at the product concept stage.
• Key services provided:
1. CNC Prototype Machining
2. CNC Aluminum Machining
3. Clear Optical Prototypes
4. Rapid Prototyping SLA & SLS
5. Urethane Vacuum Casting
6. Prototype Finishing & Painting
7. Rapid Injection Molding
8. Industrial Design Prototyping
9. Design support services? Yes, they provide prototype concept design and ID prototyping in-house.

Prototyping companies in China who create PCBAs & software for electronics, too
9. Agilian Technology – Dongguan
A specialist in electrical and mechanical product development, prototyping, and assembly, Agilian was founded in 2018 and is located very near to Shenzhen airport and Hong Kong’s border. As well as on-site industrial design support, Agilian provides not only rapid prototyping, tooling development, but also comprehensive software, PCB development, and PCBA production capabilities for clients developing electronic products. They have been involved in the prototyping and production of numerous consumer electronics and products such as vapes, IoT wearables, silicone molded products, jewellery, and more.
• Key services provided:
1. PCB Design & Prototyping
2. PCBA Development and Assembly
3. Firmware Development
4. CNC Milling/Turning
5. 3D Printing
6. 3D Scanning (0.005mm precision)
7. Plastic Injection Molding
8. Thermoforming
9. Laser Engraving & Cutting
10. Silicon Compression
11. Plastic & Aluminum Extrusion
12. Zinc & Aluminum Die Casting
13. Design support: Yes, in-house DFM support & review, structural and mechanical design, electronic design, CAD drawing, mold design

10. A-One Group Holdings – Hong Kong/Dongguan
American-owned and managed, A-One also provides PCB prototyping and assembly as well as mechanical prototyping, sourcing, and manufacturing, too.
• Key services provided:
1. CNC Machining
2. Plastic Injection
3. Metal Forming
4. PCB & SMT
5. Design support services? No

11. Shape Prototype – Dongguan/Taiwan
Shape is an ISO 9001 certified facility which focuses on supporting hardware and IoT startups & SMEs with plastic and metal prototyping, small batch production, and more. Having said that, they have worked with very large companies such as Tesla, HP, and 3M. They have worked on AI & IoT & wearables, green tech, medical devices, and more.
• Key services provided:
1. PCB Printing
2. PCBA Manufacturing
3. 3D Printing
4. CNC Machining
5. Urethane Casting
6. Tooling & Injection Molding
7. Milling & Turning
8. Sheetmetal Forming & Stamping
9. Die Casting
10. Design support services? Yes, product design and development office in Taipei, Taiwan.


12. TeamRAPID – Hong Kong/Zhongshan
A two factory company specializing in rapid prototyping, CNC Machining, Rapid Injection Molding, and other low volume manufacturing. They have helped clients in the furniture, consumer electronics, and consumer goods, and doubtless, many more industries, get to market quickly.
• Key services provided:
1. Rapid Prototyping
2. Precision CNC Machining
3. Rapid Tooling
4. Injection Mold Tooling
5. Pressure Die Casting
6. Sheet Metal Fabrication
7. Design support services? No

13. 3ERP – Zhongshan
3ERP provides one-stop rapid prototyping services & low volume manufacturing services. They are ISO 9001:2015 Certified and have created parts and prototypes for medical, automotive, aeronautical, and consumer products industries.
• Key services provided:
1. Precision CNC Machining
2. Vacuum Casting
3. Rapid Tooling
4. Injection Molding
5. 3D Printing
6. Rapid Metal Casting
7. Sheet Metal Prototyping
8. Aluminum & Plastic Extrusion
o Surface Finishing
o Design support services? No

14. Klarm prototyping – Guangzhou
Klarm have been in business for more than 10 years, are ISO 9001:2015 certified and produce high precision metal parts and large plastic products in a diverse range of industries such as electronics, automotive, machinery, medical devices, communication, sporting equipment, home applications, mechanical components, and more.
• Key services provided:
1. Rapid Precision Machining
2. High-volume Machining
3. Plastic Injection Molding
4. Silicone Vacuum Moulding
5. Instant Pressure Die Casting
6. Die Casting/Stamping
7. Fast Sheet Metal Fabrication
8. Design support services? No

15. NextProto – Zhongshan
NextProto was incorporated in 2015 and focus on CNC machining, rapid tooling, and plastic injection molding. They specialize in the Robotics, Automotive and Medical industries.
• Key services provided:
1. Rapid Prototyping
2. Sheet Metal Prototyping
3. Rapid Injection Molding
4. Aluminum Extrusion
5. Investment Casting
6. CNC Machining
7. Design support services? No

16. Mold Making – Hong Kong/Dongguan
They specialize in the injection Molding of custom plastic parts and have been in business since 1988. They have produced plastic moulds and plastic parts for household appliances, medical equipment, electronics, safety equipment, and more. They also hold ISO 9001:2015 certification and use an ERP 9.0 system.
• Key services provided:
1. Plastic Injection Molding
2. Rapid Prototyping
3. Low Volume Manufacturing
4. CNC Machining
5. Liquid Silicone Rubber Injection Molding
6. Design support services? No

17. Prototech Asia – Zhejiang
This is a French company based not far from Shanghai. They focus on rapid prototyping and finishing, with experience in the automotive, electronics, food, consumer goods and many other industries.
• Key services provided:
1. Precise Stereolithography 3D Printing Services
2. 3D Metal Printing
3. High-Quality Plastic CNC Machining Services
4. Metal CNC machining
5. Sheet Metal Prototyping
6. Custom Extrusion
7. Vacuum Mold Casting
8. Plastic Injection Molding
9. Design support services? No

18. HLH Prototypes – Shenzhen/Dongguan
Established in 2008, HLH has been offering a large range of prototyping and bespoke low volume manufacturing solutions all under one roof. They have created prototypes for a wide range of applications, including Aerospace & UAV. Automotive, Consumer Products, Industrial, Medical, and more. They have numerous certifications, including ISO 9001:2015, 14001:2015, IATF 16949:2016, and ISO/IEC 27001:2013.
• Key services provided:
1. CNC Machining
2. Rapid Prototypes & 3D Printing
3. Injection Molding & Tooling
4. Sheet Metal Work
5. Die Casting
6. Vacuum Casting (Urethane Casting)
7. 3D Printing
8. Finishing
9. Design support services? No

19. SunPe – Zhongshan
SunPe, a large rapid prototyping provider with more than 500 staff which was established in 2005, has a special focus on the automotive industry but also works on products and parts in Home Appliances, Medical, Electronic, and Industrial Products, too. They hold ISO 9001:2015 certification.
• Key services provided:
1. CNC Machining
2. Vacuum Casting
3. 3D Printing(SLA/SLS/Metal Printing)
4. Block Modelling
5. Die Casting
6. Sheet Metal Prototype
7. Extrusion
8. Rapid Tooling
9. Finishing
10. Design support services? No

20. FirstPart – Zhongshan
FirstPart provides rapid prototyping, rapid tooling and low volume manufacturing and creates metal and plastic parts for clients in, for example, the automotive industry.
• Key services provided:
1. CNC Machining
2. Sheet Metal
3. Cast Urethane
4. Aluminum Extrusion
5. 3D printing
6. Plastic Injection Molding
7. Pressure Die Casting
8. Low Volume Manufacturing
9. Finishing Service
10. Design support services? No

21. JTC – Shenzhen
JTC are ISO 9001 certified and have a 12-year history having been formed in 2008. They provide typical rapid prototyping services with CNC machining, Die casting, Injection molding, and more. They have created parts and products for clients in medical, aerospace, robotics, and other industries, too.
• Key services provided:
1. CNC Machining
2. Precise Turning
3. Injection Molding
4. Rapid Prototyping
5. Stamping and Sheet Metal
6. Die Casting
7. Investment Casting
8. Design support services? No

22. BOLE Solutions – Dongguan
Since 2007, BOLE has built up a large business providing plastic and metal prototyping to some of the world’s leading brands such as Samsung, Siemens, Coca Cola, Life Fitness, in diverse industries including aviation, automotive, medical, construction, electrical and electronic, consumer goods, and more. In addition, they are ISO 9001 certified.
• Key services provided:
1. Rapid Prototyping
2. CNC Machining
3. 5 Axis Machining
4. Vacuum Casting
5. Sheet Metal Fabrication
6. Lathe Turn Milling
7. 3D Printing
8. Injection Molding Manufacture
9. Design support services? No

23. Superior Prototype – Shenzhen
Superior prototype in Shenzhen holds an ISO 9001 certification and provide rapid prototyping solutions for various industries including digital communications, home appliances, medical, automotive, aerospace, and more.
• Key services provided:
1. Rapid Prototyping
2. CNC Machining
3. 3D Printing
4. Rapid Tooling
5. Low Volume Production
6. Sheet Metal Stamping
7. Finishing
8. Design support services? No

24. GS Proto – Shenzhen
Since 2003, GS Proto has been delivering precision prototyping and low-volume manufacturing services spanning multiple industries including automotive, medical, robotics, fibre optics, and more. They are also ISO 9001 certified.
• Key services provided:
1. CNC Machining
2. Silicone Molding
3. Sheet Metal Pressing
4. 3-D Printing
5. Injection Molding
6. Die Casting
7. Finishing Services
o Design support services? Not really, but they provide a free DFM analysis

25. Starrapid – Zhongshan
Founded in 2005, Starrapid is a well-established foreign-owned rapid prototyping, tooling, and production provider in China with ISO 9001:2015, 14001:2015 Certifications, and BS OHSAS 18001:2007 Certification. They have prior experience in consumer electronics, medical devices, consumer products, and others.
• Key services provided:
1. Rapid Prototyping
2. Rapid Tooling
3. Plastic Injection Molding
4. CNC Machining
5. Vacuum Casting
6. Pressure Die Casting
7. Metal 3D Printing
8. Finishing Services
9. Design support services? Not really, but they provide a DFM review.

26. KG Model – Shenzhen
Shenzhen KG Model was founded in 2008 and provides metal and plastic prototypes for customers like Land Rover, Panasonic, Philips and Gree. They have been involved in work for clients in multiple industries including automotive, Medical Equipment, Lighting Products, Home appliances, Gifts, Watches, Kitchenware, Furniture, Aerospace, Military, Security, Simulation models, Toys and others.
• Key services provided:
1. Rapid Prototyping
2. 3D Printing
3. CNC Machining
4. Vacuum Casting
5. Sheet Metal Stamping
6. Metal Die Casting.
7. Plastic Injection Molding.
8. Low Volume Manufacturing
9. Design support services? No.

27. Lexcent – Shenzhen
Lexcent serves some of China’s largest companies, such as Huawei and China Eastern airlines, and also international businesses, specialising in 3D printing, but also with CNC machining, and silicone molding capabilities to produce metal and plastic prototypes.
• Key services provided:
1. 3D Printing
2. CNC Machining
3. Silicone Molding
4. Design support services? No.

Cost of a prototype may be different; it depends on the following stages of the prototype:
Prototype sketching during concept design
Stage 1: Concept Design
This stage is all about product research ‘user and chooser’ prototypes that simulate a user experience with enough fidelity to allow third-party comment on the value of the new product.
Risks we identify include:
1. Risk of user confusion or rejection of device
2. Identify physical size constraints of device
3. Interaction methods and the most useful solution.
Types of prototypes:
1. User Interface Mock-ups
2. Foam models
3. Wireframes, virtual 3D Renderings
4. Wizard of Oz functionality (beauty models)
Prototype Costs:
1. Low - materials are mostly off the shelf and can include 3D custom prototype parts, cardboard paper, tape, glue, canned software, module electronics
2. Design Time, can be less than a week
3. Can start at $1000 for design costs for preliminary sketching and mock-ups
Stage 2: Design Engineering
This stage is all about bench model engineering prototypes that quantifies options to make design decisions.
Risks we identify include:
1. Thermal, fluid, stress and structural engineering risks
2. Wire and sub-component management
3. Test specific components of design
4. Mechanism functionality
5. Wireless protocol limitations
Types of prototypes:
1. Scale models of product
2. Proof-of-concept: hand-built models
Costs:
1. Medium: Depends on customized sub-systems needed and user testing validation metrics
2. Starting estimate is $5000 for bench model prototyping testing + material costs
Stage 3: Prototype & Test
This stage outputs a production alpha prototype that is fully functioning
Risks we identify include:
1. Business risk and costing of components in volume
2. Business risk of yield and high-volume outputs
3. Custom electronics and wireless connectivity
Types of prototypes:
1. Fully functional alpha prototype
Costs:
1. Medium: Depending on complexity of product and volume of output
2. Minimum 4-6 weeks of development time on average
3. The alpha prototype material costs can range from a few hundred to thousands depending on custom parts, electronics and fidelity required.
Stage 4: Manufacturing Set-Up
This Stage outputs a manufacture ready production parts prototype that is an early stage fully manufactured unit.
Risks we identify include:
1. Manufacturing process risks, these can include wall thickness of part, surface finish, colour matching and more
2. Business risk tied to lead time of parts, components, and assembly
Types of prototypes:
1. Early small run pilot pre-production unit
Costs:
1. Medium: Depending on complexity of product and volume of output
2. Minimum 3 months of development time
3. Costs typically start at $30,000 for basic products and move upwards depending on manufacturing process, volume and development time involved.
IP rights are territorial, meaning an Australian trademark, patent or design only provides protection in Australia. To protect your IP rights in China, you need to register them in China. Registering IP rights in China as early as possible can save significant time and money later.
https://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/understanding-ip/taking-your-ip-global/ip-protection-china/applying-trade-mark-china
https://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/sites/default/files/guide_to_searching_chinese_trade_marks.pdf

Besides if you do have any questions give me a call: https://clarity.fm/joy-brotonath


Answered 13 days ago

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