Some of the most successful brands rely on Marquardt’s expertise, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t familiar with the unique hurdles facing start-ups. In fact, we consider our relationships with small companies to be vital to our business. Even with that reassurance, we know it can be difficult to make connections necessary for manufacturing your products. The tips bellow can help you feel less like a small fish in a big pond, and more like a prepared partner that is ready for success.
Don’t be Intimidated
This point is important enough to warrant more discussion. To early start-ups, a reputable contract manufacturer can seem intimidating; the facilities are large with sophisticated equipment, and the team will have years of specific experience. Many small businesses assume large firms are uninterested in collaborating, or are too expensive to even engage with. At Marquardt, however, we genuinely consider partnerships with small start-ups a critical component to our business. Why? We recognize the importance of entrepreneurship to the overall health of industry, and we have the resources to help that community. “We analyzed our business model,” Says Scott Hansen, Director of Industrial Engineering at our Cazenovia facility, “we have some pretty good capabilities here that other people can benefit from.”
What does this mean for your business? It means you should feel confident about approaching us – it may be one of the best things you can do to bring your products to market. We understand that your budget may be small, and that you probably aren’t an experienced manufacturer. When you first meet with us, we’ll help you determine if you’re ready for partnering with a contract manufacturer, and if Marquardt is the right one for you.
Do What You Can (Within Reason)
If you’ve already secured sufficient funding, Marquardt has the resources to take your project from concept to full production. However, providing us with a strong foundation can make the process more economic and efficient. Some simple steps that are usually within the capabilities of start-ups include:
1) Build a functional proof-of-concept.
This demonstrates that your product can work, and how it works on a basic level. It does not need to be aesthetic, utilize production materials or processes, or be finalized in any means. This will help us to understand the basic principles of your project.
2) Provide a design brief
A design brief is a document outlining the goals of your product. What does the product accomplish? What sets it apart from the competition? Does it incorporate post-consumer plastics? While the proof-of-concept demonstrates the products basic function, a well written design brief will help us understand every goal the final product needs to accomplish.
3)Draft a bill-of-materials (BoM)
An initial list of the various components needed for your project is critical. Do you need a plastic housing? A control module? Actuators? As you work with us, this list will likely change (we’re very good at improving initial designs) but providing a draft BoM will allow us to ensure we’re the right CM for you.
If you have the technical capabilities on your team, you can also consider:
4) Building a prototype
Take your proof-of-concept a step further. Start to finalize the appearance of your product. Use 3D printing to fabricate any plastic parts, and commercially available microcontrollers/actuators if needed. Make sure the prototype represents your vision for the product’s aesthetic, function, and user experience. This prototype (called an alpha-prototype) does not need to incorporate the final materials and processes used in manufacturing – we will make that beta-prototype for you at the appropriate point of the process.
5) Beginning the DFM process
Each of manufacturing technique has its own set of limitations; it is difficult to machine overhangs on a CNC mill, and thick walls on an injection molded part can warp. If you have an idea of what processes your product will need, you can research the main limitations and improve your designs appropriately. Of course don’t feel pressured to perfect this – we have decades of experience with this and will ensure the final design is feasible.
6) Providing drawings or CAD files
If your team has the skills to accomplish the above, most likely you’ve been using engineering drawings or CAD files. These are a great tool for communicating the specifics of your product, and will allow us to get a better understanding of the manufacturing processes your product requires. If you end up partnering with us, engineering drawings will help us further refine your design to help reduce costs and production time.
Your First Steps with Marquardt
You may wonder if your product is a good fit for us. Yes, there are certain industries that Marquardt has traditionally focused on, but our Contract Manufacturing program has helped small businesses in a wide range of other markets. “There’s a lot we can do outside our traditional scope,” remarks Business Development Manager Chris Berry, “we have something we can offer to the community…the more we get out there the more amazed we are.”
Regardless of what pre-production help your team needs, and what product your market fills, you should contact us as part of your contract manufacturer search. A member of our business development team will reach out to you to learn the details of your project. Be ready to discuss your company’s vision, and don’t be shy to let us know where you need help. Be ready to discuss your budget with us as well, which is a critical part of planning out your future success.
You can also rest assured that Marquardt is committed to protecting your Intellectual Property. Our business depends on the trust our clients have in us; in addition to respecting the ownership of your IP, Marquardt has implemented strict security policies to safeguard any documentation you provide us. However, we fully understand if you require non-disclosure agreements as part of our collaboration. Just let us know early on, so we can take begin that process with our team.
Still Feel Intimidated? After reading this you may realize you’re not ready to engage with a manufacturer yet. Don’t worry and reach out to us anyway. There is a vast economic development network ready to assist you with a wide range of technical and financial support. We have a great relationship with many of these organizations, and whether you need help developing your prototype, drafting CAD models, or with securing funding, we’d be happy to introduce you to the appropriate resources.