Building a prototype of your invention has several benefits. A prototype can help you test your product, explore materials, and present a 3-dimensional object to help sell your patent. Unfortunately, not everyone has full access to a manufacturing plant or the materials needed to build their prototype, so they need to commission the build out to an expert. Here is how to go about commissioning a prototype.
Receive A "Patent Pending" Status
You want to wait to
commission your full prototype until your invention is protected by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). So once you’ve filed your patent, wait until you receive a patent pending status, so you are legally protected against any infringement. Until then you can experiment with making a prototype yourself by doing some research about necessary materials and manufacturing costs.
Design Your Prototype
You want to create a full design of your product. You can do this with a range of methods from rendering a 3D computer aided drafting (CAD) design to sculpting or 3D printing a mold to sketching a really comprehensive draft of the product. Once you have your design completely worked out you can begin to find a prototype developer.
Find A Professional Prototype Developer
With so many different manufacturers on the market it can be really overwhelming to even know where to start to find a professional prototype developer. There are a couple of resources that can help. First there is ThomasNet which is a comprehensive manufacturer registry that lists hundreds of thousands of manufacturers (found here: http://www.thomasnet.com). You can also directly hire an engineer or machinist to build your prototype by placing an ad on a job board. If you are looking for a more cost-effective solution, can source prototype developers at your local university.
So once you've received your patent pending status from the USPTO, you can begin designing and modeling your prototype. Since it is nearly impossible to build a working prototype without the tools, equipment, materials, and expertise, it is a smart idea to commission a prototype. Fortunately there are several avenues you can take to get your prototype professionally-developed once you are ready.