Idea for Invention but lacking know-how

in making a demo…

A friend & I had an idea to improve the safety of electrical appliances (not giving details- Sorry) but have no mechanical skills in developing it. What’s the best source of info in how to find someone who could make a mock-up of it so we can see if it’s even feasible? Thanks.

How much money are you willing to spend, how much time are you willing to invest, how much design help do you need to translate your idea into something physical, and how comfortable are you in disclosing your idea to other people?

Those questions are going to determine what you want to do. If you have a dcent idea of what you want your idea to look like and you’re willing to part with some money, just pick a fabrication shop out of the yellow pages and go talk to them. If you’re not even quite sure how to build it, or you don’t want to spend any money, your options become more limited.

Well how much will it cost? Never mind “what it is” description wise , what it is supposed to do? Modern American electrical appliances generally aren’t all that “unsafe” as a class. Is this something you’d add on or engineer in at the manufacturing stage? If it’s more than pennies to implement in manufacturing you’re not likely to succeed. If it’s after an market add on you’d better make a pretty compelling case for it’s utility.

FriarTed, there’s several of us on the board who are knowledgeable about electrical matters. I understand you not wanting to make details public, but I’d suggest you contact one of us by email and supply at least a broad description. We can certainly tell you if it’s feasible, as well as if it’s likely to be practical and whether a device exists which already does what you want. I don’t know about the others, but my email is public in my profile.

There are a lot of small companies that do prototyping work. I do occasional work on the side for one such company. Generally speaking, you pay them about $100 an hour for engineering labor and they give you a working prototype.

You may need a patent to protect your idea. Patents cost a huge amount of money and if someone does infringe on your patent then you still have to cough up the money up front to take them to court. It is very difficult for a little guy to defend a patent because a big guy can come along and basically lawyer you to death.

People who have never gone through the process before are usually very surprised at how huge the up front costs are to get something manufactured. You may easily spend $100k just for engineering and setup. If you make a million widgets that only works out to 10 cents a widget, but if you only make a hundred widgets then it’s $1000 a widget just to cover your up front costs.

The first step would be to have someone knowledgable take a look at your idea. I realize you don’t want to give out your “secret”, so I’d recommend having them sign a non-disclosure agreement before giving them details. Then have someone like myself or QED take a look at it. I’d be willing to sign an NDA and take a quick look at your idea and tell you what I think without charging you any money. Sounds like QED is basically offering you the same. You can probably find a sample NDA on the web. If not I can send you a template for one.

If the product looks feasible, I can put you in contact with folks who can do the engineering and manufacturing for you. The folks I deal with are good at low to medium scale production, anything from a single prototype up to tens of thousands of units.

I concur.

Don’t be overly concerned about secrecy. Just run your idea past a design engineer and ask him/her to give you a reality check. If it will make you feel better, have them sign a NDE.

All too often the patent process and expense becomes a case of whether the game is worth the chase. Don Lancaster says it isn’t.

Don Lancaster, of the Gurus Lair at <tinaja.com> has his paper “The Blatant Oportunist-6” at <http://www.tinaja.com/glib/casagpat.pdf>

A lot of great ideas end up in the dust bin because they have already been thought of, patent disclosures are already in existence, etc. A case in point it the cordless hair dryer that would run on a butane cartridge. Something any woman would die for. It was halfway thru the development and prototype stage when information came to light that it had been considered and a patent disclosure made but not developed. Described in “Air Engines” by Finkelstein and Organ, ASME press.

If you wish to persue your idea, do as suggested and get someone to give you their word. Take a flyer with someone you feel you can trust.