Questions

I am looking to develop a prototype of an electronic gadget and ready with the design specifications. Have a few questions to people who have successfully got their products manufactured in China. How do I go about looking for companies in China that can develop the prototype for me? How much does it cost to develop a prototype vis a vis actual product cost at scale (say 1000 pieces) How is my IP protected?

Before I begin to answer your question, you must understand that China is at war with the major economies around the world like U.S., India, Japan, and Australia. You must understand that prototyping in China may not be safe in these times. A little over a year ago, there were growing concerns as to the sustainability of the Quad as a means of supporting the rules-based approach in the wider Indo-Pacific. Two countries that clearly stood apart from within the Quad were Australia and India, who shied away from an outright commitment to the group given the importance of their bilateral engagements with China. A speech by the Australian Defence Minister Christopher Pyne in Singapore in January 2019 made it clear that Australia was keen to avoid the implications of another ‘Cold War’ in the region, this time propelled by US-China rivalry. This statement came in the aftermath of the 2017 United States National Security Strategy paper that clearly identified China as a competitor to “American power, influence and interests”. For Australia, economic relations with China was another factor that compelled it to balance ties between Washington and Beijing. Australia is China’s sixth-largest trading partner; China is the largest trading partner for Australia both in goods and services. However, in the aftermath of Covid-19, bilateral ties between the two have been strained, particularly considering Australia supporting the idea of an independent inquiry into the origins of the pandemic. The lowest point of the ties was when Chinese state media referred to Australia as a “dog of the United States”. Similarly, India too did not initially embrace the Quad fully, given that it had a ‘China containment’ view. Even in the aftermath of the Doklam crisis in 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his speech at the Shangri La dialogue of 2018, reiterated the importance of an “inclusive” Indo-Pacific, significantly pushing the onus on a collective model of accommodation of interests and concerns.
You need to understand what type of value you need your prototyping supplier to provide. Let us assume you already have the drawings, schematics, etc. What is your need?
1. Just do it’ — most prototyping companies receive CAD drawings and a material spec, and produce some parts, without critical thinking. That’s what you can expect of most “rapid prototyping” companies because it goes straight from input into output. This is great if all you need is 1 or 2 components to play with, for a proof-of-concept.
2. ‘Review, provide suggestions, and then do’ — all designs, even if they were prepared by an experienced person, need to be reviewed and challenged (it is a ‘Design for Manufacturing” review). The prototyping process is part of the validation of the product design. If you expect this type of assistance, you need to assess the prototyping service provider’s engineering capability. This is important for the final prototype, especially for a full product that includes many parts.
3. ‘Review, suggest, do, but also check and test’ — In addition to the above, they translate your requirements into specifications and test plans, they organize those tests on the full product, and they provide their suggestions on how to get better performance/reliability. This is what you can expect from a full-blown R&D centre.
In addition, you may want to know what processes they have in-house. It is very common for prototyping companies to rely on a network of subcontractors, and this may create intellectual property (IP) control issues.
The list of companies are as follows:
1. Vowin – Shenzhen
Founded in 2008, Vowin holds ISO 9001:2015, 14001:2015 Certifications and not only provides rapid prototyping for all kinds of materials and products but also has in-house industrial design capabilities, too. They have produced parts for most industries, notably automotive, consumer electronics, and industrial parts.
• Key services provided:
1. Rapid Precision Machining
2. High-volume Machining
3. Plastic Injection Molding
4. Silicone Vacuum Moulding
5. Instant Pressure Die Casting
6. Die Casting/Stamping
7. Fast Sheet Metal Fabrication
8. CAD Design, 3D Scanning, Engineering Review

2. Soma Prototype – Shenzhen
Shenzhen’s Soma is a prototyping specialist who has experience creating prototypes for clients in digital communications, automobile, household appliances, medical devices, and more. They are focused on rapid prototyping and low volume manufacturing.
• Key services provided:
1. CNC Machining
2. Sheet Metal Production
3. Rapid Injection Molding
4. Surface Finishing
5. Aluminum Extrusion
6. Design support services? Yes, they can provide some product development advice.

3. RebondTech – Hong Kong/Dongguan
Rebond is a diversified industrial manufacturer of high-quality customized metal and plastic parts since 2005. They serve a wide range of industries, ranging from machinery, automotive, electronics to consumer goods, transportation, medical, telecommunication and more.
• Key services provided:
1. Rapid Prototyping
2. 3D Printing
3. CNC Prototyping (Turning &Milling)
4. Vacuum Casting
5. Injection Molding
6. Metal Stamping
7. Finishing
8. Design support services? Yes, they provide part design in-house upon request.

4. Able Industrial Design & Technology – Hong Kong/Dongguan
Founded in 1990, Able provides product development, rapid prototyping, and rapid tooling. They have created prototypes for clients in the rail, medical, solar, toys, automotive, and electronics industries, to name but a few.
• Key services provided:
1. CNC Machining
2. 3D Printing
3. PU Casting
4. Reaction Injection Molding
5. Sheet Metal Prototyping
6. Rapid/Production Tooling
7. Small Batch Production
8. Design support services? Yes, they provide 2D to 3D CAD translation, development of an initial idea to a full CAD model capable of producing a rapid prototype component, and project management of the whole process, from concept to production.

5. RapidDone – Shenzhen
RapidDone started out creating parts and products in 2008. They have delivered over 2000 projects among several industries like Automotive, Medical Devices, and Consumer products, and have a particular specialism in high precision CNC machining.
• Key services provided:
1. CNC Machining
2. Plastic Prototype
3. Metal Fabrication
4. Injection Molding
5. Custom Machined Parts
6. Design support services? Yes, helps with material selection, final feature design tips, and cost-saving.

6. Apt Mold – Zhongshan
APT Mold Manufacturing Co. Ltd. specializes in rapid prototyping, rapid tooling, and low-volume manufacturing as well as mass production. Unlike some prototyping companies, they also provide suggestions for DFM (Design For Manufacturability) as standard in order to optimize designs and reduce manufacturing costs.
• Key services provided:
1. Plastic Injection Molding
2. Rapid Prototyping
3. 3D Printing
4. Precision CNC Machining
5. Low Volume Manufacturing
6. Custom Metal Stamping
7. Finishing
8. Design support services? Yes, DFM in-house and product design via a USA-based partner.

7. LK-Mould – Dongguan
LK-Mould has been operating for more than 2 decades since 1998 and specializes in steel and aluminum tooling for plastic injection molded parts and products making over 500 sets of tooling each year for companies in Automotive, medical industry, electrical engineering, sensor technology, engines, and more. In addition, they hold ISO 9001:2015 and IATF 16949:2016 accreditation.
• Key services provided:
1. Injection Moulding
2. Rapid Prototyping
3. Plastic Molding
4. 3D-Printing
5. CNC-Prototyping
6. Design support services? Yes, they provide in-house mold and part design and development.

8. WayKen – Hong Kong/Shenzhen
WayKen is one of Guangdong’s more established prototyping providers with a 20+ year history. ISO 9001 certified, they specialize in prototype machining and low-volume production for custom parts, providing one-stop services from prototype to production including providing design support at the product concept stage.
• Key services provided:
1. CNC Prototype Machining
2. CNC Aluminum Machining
3. Clear Optical Prototypes
4. Rapid Prototyping SLA & SLS
5. Urethane Vacuum Casting
6. Prototype Finishing & Painting
7. Rapid Injection Molding
8. Industrial Design Prototyping
9. Design support services? Yes, they provide prototype concept design and ID prototyping in-house.

Prototyping companies in China who create PCBAs & software for electronics, too
9. Agilian Technology – Dongguan
A specialist in electrical and mechanical product development, prototyping, and assembly, Agilian was founded in 2018 and is located very near to Shenzhen airport and Hong Kong’s border. As well as on-site industrial design support, Agilian provides not only rapid prototyping, tooling development, but also comprehensive software, PCB development, and PCBA production capabilities for clients developing electronic products. They have been involved in the prototyping and production of numerous consumer electronics and products such as vapes, IoT wearables, silicone molded products, jewellery, and more.
• Key services provided:
1. PCB Design & Prototyping
2. PCBA Development and Assembly
3. Firmware Development
4. CNC Milling/Turning
5. 3D Printing
6. 3D Scanning (0.005mm precision)
7. Plastic Injection Molding
8. Thermoforming
9. Laser Engraving & Cutting
10. Silicon Compression
11. Plastic & Aluminum Extrusion
12. Zinc & Aluminum Die Casting
13. Design support: Yes, in-house DFM support & review, structural and mechanical design, electronic design, CAD drawing, mold design

10. A-One Group Holdings – Hong Kong/Dongguan
American-owned and managed, A-One also provides PCB prototyping and assembly as well as mechanical prototyping, sourcing, and manufacturing, too.
• Key services provided:
1. CNC Machining
2. Plastic Injection
3. Metal Forming
4. PCB & SMT
5. Design support services? No

11. Shape Prototype – Dongguan/Taiwan
Shape is an ISO 9001 certified facility which focuses on supporting hardware and IoT startups & SMEs with plastic and metal prototyping, small batch production, and more. Having said that, they have worked with very large companies such as Tesla, HP, and 3M. They have worked on AI & IoT & wearables, green tech, medical devices, and more.
• Key services provided:
1. PCB Printing
2. PCBA Manufacturing
3. 3D Printing
4. CNC Machining
5. Urethane Casting
6. Tooling & Injection Molding
7. Milling & Turning
8. Sheetmetal Forming & Stamping
9. Die Casting
10. Design support services? Yes, product design and development office in Taipei, Taiwan.


12. TeamRAPID – Hong Kong/Zhongshan
A two factory company specializing in rapid prototyping, CNC Machining, Rapid Injection Molding, and other low volume manufacturing. They have helped clients in the furniture, consumer electronics, and consumer goods, and doubtless, many more industries, get to market quickly.
• Key services provided:
1. Rapid Prototyping
2. Precision CNC Machining
3. Rapid Tooling
4. Injection Mold Tooling
5. Pressure Die Casting
6. Sheet Metal Fabrication
7. Design support services? No

13. 3ERP – Zhongshan
3ERP provides one-stop rapid prototyping services & low volume manufacturing services. They are ISO 9001:2015 Certified and have created parts and prototypes for medical, automotive, aeronautical, and consumer products industries.
• Key services provided:
1. Precision CNC Machining
2. Vacuum Casting
3. Rapid Tooling
4. Injection Molding
5. 3D Printing
6. Rapid Metal Casting
7. Sheet Metal Prototyping
8. Aluminum & Plastic Extrusion
o Surface Finishing
o Design support services? No

14. Klarm prototyping – Guangzhou
Klarm have been in business for more than 10 years, are ISO 9001:2015 certified and produce high precision metal parts and large plastic products in a diverse range of industries such as electronics, automotive, machinery, medical devices, communication, sporting equipment, home applications, mechanical components, and more.
• Key services provided:
1. Rapid Precision Machining
2. High-volume Machining
3. Plastic Injection Molding
4. Silicone Vacuum Moulding
5. Instant Pressure Die Casting
6. Die Casting/Stamping
7. Fast Sheet Metal Fabrication
8. Design support services? No

15. NextProto – Zhongshan
NextProto was incorporated in 2015 and focus on CNC machining, rapid tooling, and plastic injection molding. They specialize in the Robotics, Automotive and Medical industries.
• Key services provided:
1. Rapid Prototyping
2. Sheet Metal Prototyping
3. Rapid Injection Molding
4. Aluminum Extrusion
5. Investment Casting
6. CNC Machining
7. Design support services? No

16. Mold Making – Hong Kong/Dongguan
They specialize in the injection Molding of custom plastic parts and have been in business since 1988. They have produced plastic moulds and plastic parts for household appliances, medical equipment, electronics, safety equipment, and more. They also hold ISO 9001:2015 certification and use an ERP 9.0 system.
• Key services provided:
1. Plastic Injection Molding
2. Rapid Prototyping
3. Low Volume Manufacturing
4. CNC Machining
5. Liquid Silicone Rubber Injection Molding
6. Design support services? No

17. Prototech Asia – Zhejiang
This is a French company based not far from Shanghai. They focus on rapid prototyping and finishing, with experience in the automotive, electronics, food, consumer goods and many other industries.
• Key services provided:
1. Precise Stereolithography 3D Printing Services
2. 3D Metal Printing
3. High-Quality Plastic CNC Machining Services
4. Metal CNC machining
5. Sheet Metal Prototyping
6. Custom Extrusion
7. Vacuum Mold Casting
8. Plastic Injection Molding
9. Design support services? No

18. HLH Prototypes – Shenzhen/Dongguan
Established in 2008, HLH has been offering a large range of prototyping and bespoke low volume manufacturing solutions all under one roof. They have created prototypes for a wide range of applications, including Aerospace & UAV. Automotive, Consumer Products, Industrial, Medical, and more. They have numerous certifications, including ISO 9001:2015, 14001:2015, IATF 16949:2016, and ISO/IEC 27001:2013.
• Key services provided:
1. CNC Machining
2. Rapid Prototypes & 3D Printing
3. Injection Molding & Tooling
4. Sheet Metal Work
5. Die Casting
6. Vacuum Casting (Urethane Casting)
7. 3D Printing
8. Finishing
9. Design support services? No

19. SunPe – Zhongshan
SunPe, a large rapid prototyping provider with more than 500 staff which was established in 2005, has a special focus on the automotive industry but also works on products and parts in Home Appliances, Medical, Electronic, and Industrial Products, too. They hold ISO 9001:2015 certification.
• Key services provided:
1. CNC Machining
2. Vacuum Casting
3. 3D Printing(SLA/SLS/Metal Printing)
4. Block Modelling
5. Die Casting
6. Sheet Metal Prototype
7. Extrusion
8. Rapid Tooling
9. Finishing
10. Design support services? No

20. FirstPart – Zhongshan
FirstPart provides rapid prototyping, rapid tooling and low volume manufacturing and creates metal and plastic parts for clients in, for example, the automotive industry.
• Key services provided:
1. CNC Machining
2. Sheet Metal
3. Cast Urethane
4. Aluminum Extrusion
5. 3D printing
6. Plastic Injection Molding
7. Pressure Die Casting
8. Low Volume Manufacturing
9. Finishing Service
10. Design support services? No

21. JTC – Shenzhen
JTC are ISO 9001 certified and have a 12-year history having been formed in 2008. They provide typical rapid prototyping services with CNC machining, Die casting, Injection molding, and more. They have created parts and products for clients in medical, aerospace, robotics, and other industries, too.
• Key services provided:
1. CNC Machining
2. Precise Turning
3. Injection Molding
4. Rapid Prototyping
5. Stamping and Sheet Metal
6. Die Casting
7. Investment Casting
8. Design support services? No

22. BOLE Solutions – Dongguan
Since 2007, BOLE has built up a large business providing plastic and metal prototyping to some of the world’s leading brands such as Samsung, Siemens, Coca Cola, Life Fitness, in diverse industries including aviation, automotive, medical, construction, electrical and electronic, consumer goods, and more. In addition, they are ISO 9001 certified.
• Key services provided:
1. Rapid Prototyping
2. CNC Machining
3. 5 Axis Machining
4. Vacuum Casting
5. Sheet Metal Fabrication
6. Lathe Turn Milling
7. 3D Printing
8. Injection Molding Manufacture
9. Design support services? No

23. Superior Prototype – Shenzhen
Superior prototype in Shenzhen holds an ISO 9001 certification and provide rapid prototyping solutions for various industries including digital communications, home appliances, medical, automotive, aerospace, and more.
• Key services provided:
1. Rapid Prototyping
2. CNC Machining
3. 3D Printing
4. Rapid Tooling
5. Low Volume Production
6. Sheet Metal Stamping
7. Finishing
8. Design support services? No

24. GS Proto – Shenzhen
Since 2003, GS Proto has been delivering precision prototyping and low-volume manufacturing services spanning multiple industries including automotive, medical, robotics, fibre optics, and more. They are also ISO 9001 certified.
• Key services provided:
1. CNC Machining
2. Silicone Molding
3. Sheet Metal Pressing
4. 3-D Printing
5. Injection Molding
6. Die Casting
7. Finishing Services
o Design support services? Not really, but they provide a free DFM analysis

25. Starrapid – Zhongshan
Founded in 2005, Starrapid is a well-established foreign-owned rapid prototyping, tooling, and production provider in China with ISO 9001:2015, 14001:2015 Certifications, and BS OHSAS 18001:2007 Certification. They have prior experience in consumer electronics, medical devices, consumer products, and others.
• Key services provided:
1. Rapid Prototyping
2. Rapid Tooling
3. Plastic Injection Molding
4. CNC Machining
5. Vacuum Casting
6. Pressure Die Casting
7. Metal 3D Printing
8. Finishing Services
9. Design support services? Not really, but they provide a DFM review.

26. KG Model – Shenzhen
Shenzhen KG Model was founded in 2008 and provides metal and plastic prototypes for customers like Land Rover, Panasonic, Philips and Gree. They have been involved in work for clients in multiple industries including automotive, Medical Equipment, Lighting Products, Home appliances, Gifts, Watches, Kitchenware, Furniture, Aerospace, Military, Security, Simulation models, Toys and others.
• Key services provided:
1. Rapid Prototyping
2. 3D Printing
3. CNC Machining
4. Vacuum Casting
5. Sheet Metal Stamping
6. Metal Die Casting.
7. Plastic Injection Molding.
8. Low Volume Manufacturing
9. Design support services? No.

27. Lexcent – Shenzhen
Lexcent serves some of China’s largest companies, such as Huawei and China Eastern airlines, and also international businesses, specialising in 3D printing, but also with CNC machining, and silicone molding capabilities to produce metal and plastic prototypes.
• Key services provided:
1. 3D Printing
2. CNC Machining
3. Silicone Molding
4. Design support services? No.

Cost of a prototype may be different; it depends on the following stages of the prototype:
Prototype sketching during concept design
Stage 1: Concept Design
This stage is all about product research ‘user and chooser’ prototypes that simulate a user experience with enough fidelity to allow third-party comment on the value of the new product.
Risks we identify include:
1. Risk of user confusion or rejection of device
2. Identify physical size constraints of device
3. Interaction methods and the most useful solution.
Types of prototypes:
1. User Interface Mock-ups
2. Foam models
3. Wireframes, virtual 3D Renderings
4. Wizard of Oz functionality (beauty models)
Prototype Costs:
1. Low - materials are mostly off the shelf and can include 3D custom prototype parts, cardboard paper, tape, glue, canned software, module electronics
2. Design Time, can be less than a week
3. Can start at $1000 for design costs for preliminary sketching and mock-ups
Stage 2: Design Engineering
This stage is all about bench model engineering prototypes that quantifies options to make design decisions.
Risks we identify include:
1. Thermal, fluid, stress and structural engineering risks
2. Wire and sub-component management
3. Test specific components of design
4. Mechanism functionality
5. Wireless protocol limitations
Types of prototypes:
1. Scale models of product
2. Proof-of-concept: hand-built models
Costs:
1. Medium: Depends on customized sub-systems needed and user testing validation metrics
2. Starting estimate is $5000 for bench model prototyping testing + material costs
Stage 3: Prototype & Test
This stage outputs a production alpha prototype that is fully functioning
Risks we identify include:
1. Business risk and costing of components in volume
2. Business risk of yield and high-volume outputs
3. Custom electronics and wireless connectivity
Types of prototypes:
1. Fully functional alpha prototype
Costs:
1. Medium: Depending on complexity of product and volume of output
2. Minimum 4-6 weeks of development time on average
3. The alpha prototype material costs can range from a few hundred to thousands depending on custom parts, electronics and fidelity required.
Stage 4: Manufacturing Set-Up
This Stage outputs a manufacture ready production parts prototype that is an early stage fully manufactured unit.
Risks we identify include:
1. Manufacturing process risks, these can include wall thickness of part, surface finish, colour matching and more
2. Business risk tied to lead time of parts, components, and assembly
Types of prototypes:
1. Early small run pilot pre-production unit
Costs:
1. Medium: Depending on complexity of product and volume of output
2. Minimum 3 months of development time
3. Costs typically start at $30,000 for basic products and move upwards depending on manufacturing process, volume and development time involved.
IP rights are territorial, meaning an Australian trademark, patent or design only provides protection in Australia. To protect your IP rights in China, you need to register them in China. Registering IP rights in China as early as possible can save significant time and money later.
https://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/understanding-ip/taking-your-ip-global/ip-protection-china/applying-trade-mark-china
https://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/sites/default/files/guide_to_searching_chinese_trade_marks.pdf

Besides if you do have any questions give me a call: https://clarity.fm/joy-brotonath


Answered a year ago

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