You have an idea, a 3D printer, and a Kickstarter account. In theory, taking your idea and turning it into a viable product is a simple matter of launching a crowdfunding campaign and clicking the “print” button.

Alas, there’s more to it — and there are various routes you could take. Keep the following considerations and best practices in mind as you manufacture a new product for the first time.

Protect Your Intellectual Property (IP)

If your idea is truly unique, protect it! According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, patents protect inventions and improvements to inventions; copyrights protect the expression of ideas (such as manuscripts or song lyrics); and trademarks are words, symbols, names, and other devices that identify a product or service’s source. Learn more about patents, trademarks, and copyright at the US Patent and Trademark Office website.

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Choose Your Route to Market

According to Innovate Product Design, the two main routes to getting a product to market are: licensing deals or business start-ups. With a licensing deal, you allow another company to manufacture, advertise, and distribute your “idea” in exchange for royalties or a percentage of the profits. With a business start-up, you will be responsible for all aspects of getting your product to market.

Crunch the Numbers

How much funding will you need to start up? How much will each unit cost to produce at various volume levels? What is your breakeven point? How much should you sell each unit for so that you can pay your bills and make a profit? How much will it cost to store inventory? According to Entrepreneurs Journey, factories typically require a 30 percent deposit to begin production. How will you pay for this? How will you pay for the balance? Use cash flow projections and other financial tools to determine if your idea is viable.

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Pick the Right Partners

Take care in choosing suppliers, manufacturers, and other partners. Look beyond price and make sure that your partners can deliver the quality and volume that you need. Find out if they share similar values. For example, if you want to source raw materials only from within your own country, you’re going to need to know more about your suppliers’ supply chains.

Learn What to Expect

An article on Autodesk’s Line//Shape//Space mentioned that we often learn more not by what has succeeded, but rather by what hasn’t worked. Keeping this in mind, look at projects that have failed and consider what went wrong. Think about how you’d do it differently. Anticipate similar obstacles and create a plan to avoid running into them.

Inspect the Finished Product

When you do begin manufacturing, make sure to inspect the goods before they leave the factory. If you can do this in person, all the better. If not, consider using a third party inspection service. Not only will an inspection help to assure quality and provide you with the opportunity to have incorrect work redone, it will send a signal to the factory that quality is important to you — and that you WILL hold them to their end of the bargain.

Getting a product to market involves numerous considerations. You’ll need to protect your idea, decide which route to take, crunch the numbers, learn from the mistakes of others, pick the right partners, and be proactive throughout the manufacturing process.

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