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New product idea

tk1982's Avatar

Hello, I recently came up with an idea, spoken with IP lawyer, filed necessary paperwork for a relatively simple plastic product. Now I'm at the point of finding a manufacturer for the item. I have no idea what type of process to be used, extrusions, molds, 3d printing...etc should be used for this item. I'd love to have the product made in the US because, well, I hate seeing our work going overseas. Anyways, this is a simple item about 10" wide, and 6" tall, and 4-6 mm thick with semi durable plastic. I am also stuck on deciding which type of material should be used. Hot/cold limits will not apply, and tensile strength is not a major concern. I've made templates from cardboard up to this point and have my dimensions well planned out. Is there anyone that can recommend a reputable manufacturer, that I wouldn't worry about stealing my idea? I hope I'm not asking for too much information, as this is my first actual manufacturing endeavor. Thanks to anyone that can provide me some insight.

Best Regards,

Tim

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williamj's Avatargold

Tim, first off Welcome to Edison Nation and the Edison Nation Forums !!!

There are several members experienced in the plastics filed and I'm sure that they'll chime in as soon as they get a chance, I, myself, am not experienced in this field. However, weather or not your product  should be molded or extruded depends entirely on the size, shape and construction (how it's all put together) of the product.

I strongly recommend spending, the relatively minor expense, of a 3D proto before incurring the expense of committing to injection molding dies or extrusion methods.

Whichever you choose... the

Best of luck to you

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tk1982's Avatar

Thanks for the info William. Since my product will be basically a flat piece of plastic about 1/8" thick, I have several prototypes I've had made from cardboard. But i will test materials for some example of strength before actual production begins. I have detailed drawings, pending patent, and the mock up I've made so far. And since it's a very simple item, I'm afraid to ask to have one printed for fear of a stolen idea. Anyways, I'm just ranting. Hopefully, like you said, I'll be able to pick someone's brain that deals with plastics specifically. Thanks again. 

-Tim

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williamj's Avatargold

Tim, before you discuss your product in detail, with anyone, have a signed nondisclosure agreement in hand. You can have a patent attorney draw a specific one up or you could download a 'generic' NDA form from a variety of online sources. Any legitimate corporate entity (who deal with inventors and entrepreneurs) will have no problem signing one, that includes those who do 3D printing.

David Heath
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beszeditz's Avatar

Tim, I'm sure from what I have read about EN, their testimonials, they have legitimate honest companies in any field. I think you just need to hire a partner like EN (Check all the work they'll do for you and in your situation on Patent Pending their review would be fastest just in '4' stages than the usual '8') I think it is much better to know since the very beginning from someone experienced if your idea have possibilities to reach the shelves instead taking all the risks involved on your own, specially b4 spending thousands of $ and getting nothing in return. My humble opinion.

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thedingo's Avatar

Hi Tim,

Talk with a mechanical engineer or else someone that can create a 3D computer model of your product.  Make sure that the model you create is one capable of  being injection molded.  Once you have the model you can send it off to be 3D printed.  The dimensions you stated would make for an expensive 3D printed prototype but the important part is that you have the computer model to make a mold from.  Forget about 3D printing for a mass market, you might could make one a day using a printer.

Research different plastics and compare the most commonly used ones to find the perfect one.  After you decide the method of manufacture you can have the molds made of whatever metal you think is best.  These molds are quite expensive ($10,000-$30,000).  There are still some factories in the U.S.A. that can handle your order and I am sure they could walk you through the process of production.  Still, it will not be cheap because a minimum factory order will be in the thousands.

In my experience, no one is going to want to steal your idea until it starts making money.  When people start to see it in stores then they will gladly steal it.  If your IP is strong and you have a good sales network you will have nothing to worry about.  Oh... and non-disclosure agreements just to be safe.

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keeztan's Avatar

If you are talking a flat product your simplest and most economical production method would probably be to be steel rule die stamping. A simple one cavity die can be built rather inexpensive for initial proof of concept and testing. A larger gang or family die could be added at a later point. I have used many of these in the past for fabrics and plastics.

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tact_trunk_monkey's Avatar

Check this site out it is pretty cool regarding what you're talking about: 

http://www.emachineshop.com/

David
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sunto's Avatar

Interesting  link Ken

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williamj's Avatargold

Thanks for the link Ken.

I downloaded and installed the software and was able to play with it a little. I found it pretty easy to use and really liked the ability to flip between 2D and 3D views. I get that the software is intended for eMachineshop use, I have no problem with that. I just wish SketchUp was half as easy to use. I think I need a sketchup tutor. I need to be able too have someone look me in the eye and tell me where I'm messing' up.

Again, thanks for the link

Ken Hill
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tact_trunk_monkey's Avatar

You're welcome William! It is a pretty easy CAD type program they have.

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kdc's Avatar

That does look like fun...thanks, Ken!

Ken Hill
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mykzrock's Avatargold

Hi Tim,

You could use "Friendly Plastic" to make your prototype in plastic.  You just heat it up, the plastic softens and you mold the plastic to the shape you want.  You could use a rolling pin to flatten the plastic  and then cut it to the shape you want it to be. I've used it to make several prototypes and it's worked well for me.  

All the best,

Susan

Tim Kirchner
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tk1982's Avatar

Thanks everyone for all the input. I've been playing with the emachineshop program a little bit. Seems so easy to manipulate. Susan thanks especially for that. I go to hobby stores a lot with my wife and never thought to look for this stuff. Looks like I'll be building some prototypes this week in my office. So much easier to shop for a manufacturer with an item 'in hand'. 

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