Predicate Devices for New Product Inventions
One of the ways Pipeline helps its customers is by providing an understanding of the vast array of manufacturing processes, and pairing the appropriate process with the design intent of a particular product. Many inventors like to do as much work as they can on their own before handing the reigns over to us. We encourage this, and work with inventors to facilitate it. One of the best tools an inventor can have when developing the high level concepts for their product is an understanding of common manufacturing processes. But how does one learn about these processes and which is most appropriate for a given design?
One of the best ways we’ve found for those interested in matching their product to an appropriate manufacturing process is to look at competing predicate devices already on the market. When you’re talking about spending thousands of dollars to develop your product, it makes a lot of sense to spend $50 or $100 to purchase an existing product that is similar to what you want to develop and deconstruct it to understand how it was manufactured. This will help you understand what process might be the most cost effective for the type of product you’re working on: plastic injection molding, machining, welding, thermoforming, etc. Each of these processes has tell-tale signs that can be derived from a cursory inspection of the parts made through the process.
For a good book on learning more about common manufacturing processes, check out Manufacturing Processes for Design Professionals.