A platform connecting inventors and SMEs to manufacturers that are able to prototype and manufacture their products on a smaller scale.
Aside from charging a % commission from each order placed what other adds on can I do to monetize the business?
There are already quite a few companies growing quickly in Silicon Valley and New York that are working on this exact concept.
Economics works best at scale and you're proposing the smallest possible scale - test units. That being said it's not a death sentence to the idea - it's always about execution.
As a business man I value a plethora of conflicting data because it helps me better understand how to organize that data and present it in a useful and actionable fashion to my customers. You won't want to simply talk with just any manufacturers. A desirable and good matching manufacturer is:
Such a system needs to match these small businesses with appropriate manufacturers. Some manufacturers only produce products no larger than small screws in example while some specialize in certain types of materials.
If you are to be effective you need to not only build the software yourself (none of this "lulz, I'll just get someone else to do all the work!" BS) and have a respectable comprehension of manufacturing businesses. Your value is that you could potentially provide three key services:
Do you have this issue personally, or have intimate understanding of this issue? Before you develop a revenue model, you need to be very well versed in the problem you are solving.
I have not had to have prototyping done for a decade (pre-3D printing that can offset 'some' we had to deal with) but then it was expensive for the inventor (the company I was with) and the manufacturer (incredibly well regarded electronics CM) where nearly all the economics for both sides only worked if there were high volumes.
I am not really following where this is a new concept, at least as you have positioned it. These are already exist. Most companies that do these kind of builds will do smaller scale. The problem is they charge more. The cost is still in tooling the manufacturing process and where economies of scale come into play. Unless you are talking about a platform in terms of a linkedin for manufacturing prototypes? I guess my question is why would people choose your platform as opposed to just googling "manufacture my prototype" and choosing any number of companies that do this? You can always create some competitive advantage, but that is what you will find out when you develop your idea into a business plan. Platform is relative. The Internet is a platform. Use linkedin for example. LinkedIn started out as a job networking platform. Then they realized facebook had more traffic so they jerry springered it up and infused it with politics and got everyone getting online to argue...they fed the disease that is often social media and for the most part have lost a great deal of credibility as a professional site. Use CFL as an example....example of a lot of what NOT to do lol. I partially kid...because after all I am here spending my time so they are doing somethings right despite an overall mediocre facility to entrepreneurship. Consider angies list, or the good contractor....etc. One good thing that could draw people is to create a list of top inventions and then reach out to any living inventors and get them involved with their stories. And I am talking about solid inventions. Make it a goal to have several tiers...and various industries. So for example...someone who invented something in drone technology....someone who invented something in the movie industry...a camera for example...someone in fashion...automobile...home electronics...inventions everyone uses and knows they use...others they use but don't know....there are a lot of businesses with similar blue prints. They have to be solid, but consider the ones you want to stop and look at are the ones with the best design, landscapping...etc. A hot chick washing a red Ferrari never hurts either as long as there is substance. That of course is a figurative analogy, unless the hot chick invented and manufactured the hose she is washing the car with or the swimsuit, or the hose nozzle or some new technology on the car...which if that is the case it would change to literal example and one that would just also happen to gain quite a bit of attention. However "hot" would be subjective of course, unless it was a summer day for which she was washing her car...and in that case she would literally be hot...which fortunately she invented a nozzle for which she can spray herself and cool off. With that, figure out the entertaining element to your "platform." Edutainment.