Machining difficulties and process inefficiencies can spur shops to invent new devices to simplify part production. Shops typically are driven to do this when off-the-shelf solutions don’t exist or existing products don’t deliver as promised.
In some cases, a shop realizes that others facing similar challenges will likely find value in its innovative solution. So why not parlay that engineering ingenuity into a marketable product?
If you’ve developed some trick piece of machining equipment, believe there’s legitimate demand for it and think establishing a product line makes sense, then here are some things to consider:
• Let another shop try it. As you’re refining your product for optimal functionality and manufacturability, find a shop with which you have a good rapport and let it try your device. Ask the shop to provide feedback to help you finalize the design. Also, be sure that the shop documents—in actual numbers—the benefits it realized using the device. These could include faster setup times, improved part finish or some other relevant metric.
• Develop promotional materials. Highlight the features and benefits in promotional vehicles such as brochures, catalogs and your website. In addition to technical specs, make sure you provide a clear explanation of how the device functions and include positive results from beta testing. Get good photos of the device in use, too. Those go a long way. Of course, social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter can be worthwhile.
• Don’t forget video. Nearly all of today’s digital cameras take decent video. Create a video channel on YouTube showing the device being used, and import the YouTube videos into your website (it’s free and easy to do that).
• Let me know about it. The Modern editors are always looking for nifty new products and technologies to profile. So once you’ve finalized the design and generated some promotional materials, let us know about it. We have multiple media channels in print and online to showcase your product.
• Advertise it. At this point you’re thinking “pretty self-serving there, Derek.” I hear you. However, a recent study on media usage in manufacturing facilities (conducted by Gardner Publications) found that trade publications continue to be the preferred source for industry information. And since I can’t include an article about your product in every issue of the magazine, advertising in a trade publication like ours is still the best option for getting your product in front of the right audience.
• Be ready to support it. Before you start spreading the word, make sure that you have all your manufacturing and supply chain ducks in a row so you’re ready to handle the volume of business that can be generated. There’s nothing worse than offering a product and not being able to deliver.