You have come up with a unique product idea and want to make it a reality, but how? The steps to product development may seem daunting, but when the right professionals are consulted and care is taken at each stage, the task becomes much simpler. First, it is important to remember that product development is unique to each inventor and their product. There are general steps for developing a product, but each step may be taken in a different order, repeated, or skipped all together. The most important step towards product development is analyzing your individual situation and tailoring the process for your invention.
Before product development takes place, performing research on your desired product is crucial. To start, researching current patents and exploring patenting your own idea is vital. This stage ensures that your product is unique and protects your idea. Patents are especially important if you plan to bring a product to the commercial market, if your idea is discoverable by others, or if you plan to sell your idea in the future. Patenting a product typically begins with a provisional patent, which serves as a place holder to protect your product for up to 12 months. During this time, filing of a nonprovisional patent application can guarantee prolonged protection of your product.
After researching the patent realm, it may be necessary to explore development firms to bring your product to life. Development firms can either price as a fixed fee or vary the cost based on time and materials. This firm and pricing strategy determines the investors you may need.
Once you have selected a product development company, a project start-up meeting is the first step towards actual product development. This meeting centers around a project proposal and outlines the goals of the project. At the conclusion of the meeting, a Product Development Specification (PDS) will be written, depicting exactly what your invention is and the stages for its development. Once the PDS is completed, concept development can take place. This stage involves group brainstorming to sketch multiple iterations of the desired product, followed by refining these sketches, ranking them based on preference, and selecting the top designs for further exploration. These top designs are then advanced to the prototyping stage, beginning with computer-aided designs and simultaneous beta prototypes. Both the virtual and physical prototypes are compared to the PDS to ensure functionality and performance. As the prototypes develop and are adjusted, so may the PDS.
The above is a general guideline for the course of product development. Each product is different and may require an altered course for development depending on the objectives of the inventor.