Prototyping your invention is one of the final steps in the invention process. A prototype allows you to fully refine your invention. At this stage of the process, you should ensure that anyone you’re working with has signed non-disclosure agreements.
Whether it’s a manufacturer or an individual tradesperson, this agreement should always be put in writing, even if it’s with friends.
You shouldn’t take your invention to your patent attorney until you have finalized a working prototype. If you launch the patent application any earlier, you may face the embarrassing situation where you discover serious flaws in the prototype and are unable to add new improvements to the filed application.
Therefore, you could end up paying your attorney extra fees to file a new application or an addendum to the existing application called a “continuation-in-part”. Note that getting a patent for your prototype is not the be all and end all.
If your patent application fails, your initial market research, and your cost and profit projections, could still indicate that your product is worth producing and selling.
An invention prototype can be a fully functional model of your invention, although this can sometimes be an expensive proposition. To reduce cost and time, some inventors choose to create a computer generated prototype instead. A computer generated prototype is basically a three dimensional computer model of your invention based on drawings and schematics.
This model is created with machine integrated software, and this machinery can be used to produce all or part of your product using molding processes. Specifically, this technology is called CAD/CAM and prototyping using CAD/CAM is known as rapid prototyping.
There are many companies which specialize in specific areas of rapid protoyping, and these can be found with the help of a local university engineering department. Be sure to check the references of any rapid prototyping company you are considering, such as references who are other inventor peers or previous clients.