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Product to Market10/9
First off I would like to say I am super excited to have found Woodweb.com and am looking forward to exploring and learning more as I get familiar with the site. Obviously, I am new to this forum and am looking for assistance in bringing a product to market. I have been working on the design of a children's piece of furniture for the past 2 years. I developed this piece after seeing a need from my daughter to have this stepstool and figuring out how to make one that functionally works well within our limited space. I decided to pursue bringing it to market after I received various requests to build additional pieces from various friends. I have built 3 functional working prototyps with enhancements to the design with each version. The last version I converted to CNC and had it cut.
Within the last two years I have learned a lot about the process but find myself still feeling infinitely ignorant as I consider what it is going to take to bring this product to market. For example I have filed a Provisional Patent Application with the USPTO. I hired a CAD Designer, and have physically built three working prototypes. BTW-I have decided to learn how to actually design with AutoCad (using Onshape which has been awesome as a side note) after the freelance designer I worked with did not catch flaws and mistakes with the design that I counted on him for. This realization came after I tried getting the design converted to the CNC input needed to get it cut.
In any case, one of the biggest hurdles I am facing right now is trying to find a manufacturer (in the US) which would be centrally located (like somewhere in the midwest in order to keep distribution costs low) and who would be willing to work with a newby like me. I have found that first I have to jump all these hurdles in order for them to even begin talking to me (which I understand because their time is money). For example most want me to have a business license and a tax ID... But I would like to make sure that it is even financially feasible to produce before I spend money speaking with an attorney (in order to determine which business structure I should choose) and filing for a business license and ID, etc, etc....
To make a long story short I am looking for guidance on next steps I should take. Specifically do you guys know of any Furniture Manufacturers in the US who work strictly with CNC and who are open to outside Designers (huhummm, that would be me) in order to answer some technical questions about the design (cutting clearances, tolerances, production etc...)?
I hope this all makes sense and I apologize for any incorrect usage of terms and any faux paus I might have created in posting this plea to this forum.
You might want to check in with your insurance company about this.
Several years ago I was insured by American States Insurance. They were regarded as a pretty high quality underwriter at the time. If they would insure you anybody would.
During an audit one year the only thing they wanted to know was if I made step stools or ladders. They wouldn't insure me if I did.
Ever since then I would not touch anything a child or baby could fall off of.
I don't understand why you included that drawing in this post - it adds nothing.
The biggest faux pas I see is that you misspelled faux pas.
Frenchy, you need to get your mom to give you a hug or something. There is no reason to be snarky.
Miko was correct in posting that drawing. It shows the rest of us that he has given this some thought and basically describes what he is looking for.
He is also correct in performing due diligence before setting up a business just to investigate viability.
Get a copy right on the design first which is a lot easy than a patent
Get accurate shop drawings, materials summary/BOM, and part drawings.
There are hundreds of shops that have excess capacity on their CNC's, get a quote on your BOM and part-drawings from the many shops around you that have CNC's. Have them quote cutting the parts, and or assembly and finishing.
I know this is your baby but don't get attached to it to much, the only way to know if you have a viable product is to take it to market, get a small booth at a trade only market in furniture and expose it to buyers. At the AmericasMart Atlanta and or the High Point Market there are thousands of buyers at these shows that buy for retails stores and if you already have prototypes made it the best way to get honest feedback on your product, they either buy it or they don't.
You could also throw it up on the web and see if there is any interest in it, WIX, Shopify, Etsy, Custom Made....
Thanks for the responses so far. @Frenchy I was pressed for time & should have explained it a bit. I included the drawing just to give an idea of the types of questions I have. In that example I highlighted the cutting clearance I used, of .25" based off of the cutting width of the blade that was used to cut the last prototype- wasn't sure if it was ok to layout parts, that are to be cut, the way I did being so close together...
Thanks for the tips Cabmaker and Robert. The problem with trying to find a local CNC shop is that I live in Wilton, a small town in NH, and the nearest shops I could find were in Boston (which are an hour and a half away). I wanted to see if I could find some online resources before having to go all the way out there. Hence Woodweb.
Robert, I recall reading about High Point Market and have added it on my list of things to follow up with. Have you attended before?
I have attended the High Point Market 60 times over the last 20 years, I have been to almost every trade show in the furniture industry at least once on 4 continents, the only one I have not been to is the The Salone del Mobile in Italy the dates have never worked out for me.
The reason I say throw your product up on the web or take a prototype to a wholesale trade market somewhere, you will never know if your product is viable until professional buyers are exposed to it. Spend your money on prototypes and exposure, if it sells then it's a given that you will need to get up to snuff on the business side of things.
Miko, if you found a shop only an hour and half away and they are willing to talk to you why don't you get in your car and drive there? If you are wanting to get something off the ground seems like you are going to have to put a bit of pavement into it. Take your prototype with you.
If that drawing is any indication, then due diligence is the least of his concerns.
I wouldn't waste any effort on the patent, unless you have the money to protect it. No idea on how you should proceed.