Cad · Manufacturing

How do I get my idea from Autocad design to production?

Brad Baker President & CEO - PowerUp Games, Inc.

May 6th, 2014

I have an idea for a device.  It will be sold really cheap.  It is for people who have no electricity or very limited electricity.

I can get it designed in AutoCAD.  It should be produced as cheap as possible so I was thinking of using plastic.

Any ideas on which plastics are cheapest?

Any wisdom on getting it done?

I would love to sell 100M of these all over the world. 

Rob G

May 6th, 2014

no shortcuts. you still need to validate product / market fit FIRST. don't pass go and do not collect $200 until you validate product/market fit.  that should not require a 'live' product, but if you think you must have a product in hand then 3D print a few prototypes.  i don't mean to sound like a broken record, but identify your IDEAL prospect first then go pitch them armed with a short slide deck - no product necessary. If fit is good, them print a few prototypes and test some more.  not knowing what your product is it's impossible to recommend how to produce it and certainly no way to recommend best materials.  cheapest production by volume for most plastics is injection molding (high up-front tooling costs).  styrene is likely the cheapest material, but again, no way to recommend materials or process without knowing what you are building. 

Kevin Burke Public Sector Management Consultant

May 6th, 2014

Depends on the size. If it's not complex (i.e. not a lot of moving parts, not exposed to harsh elements, etc), injection molding is probably the best manufacturing method if you're looking at that kind of scale of production. Pennies per part (or cheaper) if it's not too big or intricate to make, although most of your cost is up front making the mold. Hope that helps. Kevin

Robert Martinez Cofounder and VP Engineering at SupplyBetter

May 9th, 2014

tl;dr: +1 Rob Gropper's comment regarding product market fit, but let's try and answer Brad's question. 

For a moment though let's assume Brad's tested enough prototypes to establish product market fit, and now he's trying to figure out how to take his prototype to 100 million plastic units. 

Materials (plastic, cheap):
  • HDPE - High Density Polyethylene
  • PP - Polypropylene
  • PS - Polystyrene
  • ABS - Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene
I won't go into detail about the nuances of using each material, but for a qualitative side-by-side comparison, here's a laboratory container made using PS and PP

Manufacturing Processes (plastic, high volume):
One of the materials and manufacturing processes I've listed will likely work best for your project when you're ready to produce high volumes. However, like many people have mentioned in this thread, one of the most important requirements for high volume plastic manufacturing is the risk associated with the high cost of tooling (actually making the molds that will be used in producing your parts). 

Doing everything you can to validate your design and establish product market fit will help bring down the risk of tooling. This could involve aggressively iterating on the design to make it as cheap to manufacture as possible and/or mean finding a useful sales channel for your product. 

Hope this has been helpful!


Robert Tolmach Entrepreneur and Social Entrepreneur

May 6th, 2014

You need someone on your team with expertise.  I do not know Steve (above), but check them out.  You might also try Quirky.

Rob G

May 9th, 2014

Brad needs to step in here and give us an idea of what he's trying to build or we are all just shooting in the dark. 
material and process are so dependent upon intended use including safety (are kids going to stick this in their mouths for example), durability, aesthetics, electrical conductivity, UV stability, packaging, labeling, recycle-ability, repair/dispose ... the list is long. 

Jim Lundberg Programmmer at Bosch North America

May 8th, 2014

http://www.amazon.com/Lolo-Company-Inc-1-Game/dp/B00005LQSO/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

is a good picture of 3D5.   We made 5000 in one run so far.   I think the tooling is good for 50,000 units.

3D5 really really needs a new box that will sell it, and maybe a new name like a simple "5-in-a-row" or something.   I should make it a project for kickstarter, but I think I need a partner or two that knows how to do the proper presentation.  I have found one very good game box artist Michael Spahitz: mspahitz@yahoo.com who could redo the artwork, so I'm getting there.

Brad Baker President & CEO - PowerUp Games, Inc.

May 10th, 2014

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions.

I wasn't thinking of anything too original on this one.  I wanted to try to build something that can be used by the poorest people of the world to provide light inside their homes during the day.  If it lasts 3-5 years, that would be fine. it can't be so nice  that people would want to steal it.  I don't think there will be any building codes or inspections do deal to consider with their homes or structures.  The most important thing is how cheap can we deliver it.

I was thinking of a 3 piece solar collector that brings or reflects captured light from the outside and brings it inside so that during the day, light can be inside and sunshine is free.

The outside/roof piece needs to be clear to capture the light.
the middle piece moves/reflects the light from the point of capture to inside the structure
and the bottom piece is opaque and diffuses the light.
it doesn't matter the amount of light loss,  you can make the top larger.  Aesthetics isn't the issue, cheap light is. 
I was hoping to produce/deliver it for under $3 since I think $5 would be max what people could pay.
If the local population could produce it that would be even better but I don't think it is possible in most locations.
I look at this as a humanitarian project, in some locations they don;t have electricity or can't afford just getting light into the middle of a structure like a house.

I was hoping that during the day, it could take the place of having a light bulb on.  (if they had electricity) 

The device could be oval, circular, or square and be 12 X 12" or wider or smaller and be 3" long  or longer or slightly shorter.  It would have a total of 3 parts.  3 feet should be able to go through most roofs or down the side of most structures to get to a point where it can enter the structure.  I haven't built my cardboard prototype yet.  I need to figure out how to get the tooling monies.  If you would like to comment on that, please do.  I have ideas for that too.

Thanks for the help and discussion.  

Logan Vickery Furniture Designer at Corn Upholstery

May 6th, 2014

There's always ABS... but one of the 6 recyclable plastics are a good choice since they are.... recyclable!   Really depends on the application though... an injection molder can help you make that decision once you are serious about producing a run (minimums are usually around 1,000).  Have you done prototyping?  3D printing is the way to go there.  Be prepared to make and test a few first.  You can always hire an industrial designer with experience in human factors *wink wink*.

Arnav Dalmia

May 6th, 2014

Brad, I think I've been in your shoes before. Product development companies are generally very expensive (I dont know about Steves)

My advice would be not to go for Quirky. It leaves you with no control over your product. You just share your idea, and if people like it, Quirky makes it for you. In return you get a small cut

Therefore, I think it really depends on your budget and extent of involvement

Jim Lundberg Programmmer at Bosch North America

May 8th, 2014

I can help you with printing the prototypes on a 3D printer or I think there are some mail shipping stores that have them also now.