In Reply to: Need Proto Type posted by Acorn on 01/30/03 at 5:51 PM:
You are in a very common situation.....how to get prototypes without tooling. The answer is fairly simple, but it may still be too expensive for you.
There are 'service bureas' which can take designs (typically solid models which are representations of your parts), and rapid prototype them by a few different processes. The process itself could be SLA, SLS, or '3D printing'.
These processes work fairly well - in some cases, you can have a functioning prototype in a material similar to the production piece.
So the steps for this path are:
1. GET YOURSELF SOME PROTECTION!!! (provisional patent, most likely)
2. Get sketches, pictures, and a verbal description of the concept.
3. Work with a designer to develop CAD/Solid models for the parts and assembly.
4. Contract a service house that does rapid prototyping.
The other option (if the parts are simple enough) is to get a machine shop to fabricate the parts based on your concept sketches. It would likely be much cheaper this way.
A last option is to partner with a molder who can perform these services in return for a promise of the business, at a fair market value. In other words, a molder might be willing to do the 'up front' design work as long as you promise to give him the business, providing his price is a fair value.
Good luck! Sounds exciting.....
BTW...my experience with 'Ideas' shops (people who promise to patent, market, and sell your idea) has been bad. If they think your idea is bad, they'll take your money to get research and patent work done. If it's good, they'll pay you little and sell the idea themselves. At least that's my impression from my sole experience.