How to Develop a Product


So you’ve come up with a great product idea, did your research, have basic sketches, and even built a functional prototype with a shoelace, toothpick, and some duct tape; but now what? It’s time to pursue professional development. The following information will give a high-level view of the various stages in product development.

The first phase is the Design Phase; the objective of this phase is to illustrate how your McGyver’d prototype can look more like a sleek, sophisticated product. The importance of a good product design is becoming increasingly important- a product is only as good as it’s user experience. Product design should take into account the use-case of the product, target market, demographics, and overall ergonomics. At the end of the Design phase you will have concept sketches that will help the Engineer develop the product.


The Engineering Phase is up next. It is here that a product will spend a significant amount of it’s development. The Engineering phase ensures that the design if suitable for manufacturing (See: Design for Manufacturability). When you find an Engineering service, they will work directly with you to design a manufacturable product that resembles your concept sketches. The output of the Engineering phase is a 3D file that can be used in prototyping.


The Prototyping Phase typically goes hand-in-hand with the Engineering phase. With the rise of 3D printing, product feedback is much cheaper and faster. You should expect the Engineer(s) to utilize 3D printing services to produce physical representations of the product. The Prototyping phase is an iterative and frequent process and will help expose any design flaws. After going through several design improvements, you’re now ready to bring in the big guns -  Low Volume Production.


Low Volume Production is used to manufacture a few thousand pieces for relatively low costs. The overall process and objective is to create a mold/cast of your completed prototype so that you can repeatedly produce your product in a scalable manner. Methods of Low Volume Production may vary depending on the materials and quantities desired; Cast Urethane Molding is great for low-cost, lower-volume production; Injection Molding is typically used for larger volumes of production; and Casting is a molding process where the object is broken out of a mold and is great for complex shapes.


With a few thousand pieces now at your disposal, it’s time to start selling and distributing your product! However, Distribution and Order Fulfillment are subjects for a future writeup :)

To recap, a product’s development typically experiences the following phases:

Idea and Validation

Industrial Design

Engineering Design


Low Volume Production

Interested in sharing your prototype with ProtoExchange or need help taking the next step? Let us know and we’ll contact you!