Industrial Design, CAD, Virtual & Physical Prototype
Solving a Problem
Steve, the inventor of the vent fan, had several rooms in his house that were hard to heat and cool due to their distance from the main HVAC unit. Because the air flow was much weaker from some vents than others, some rooms were excessively hot in the summer and excessively cold in the winter. Having to constantly adjust the thermostat to compensate for this was also a nuisance and had increased the heating and cooling bills. Frustrated, Steve began working on a solution. The result of Steve's hard work led to his innovation for a vent fan system that inserts into standard house vents and gives those stubborn vents the extra push they need!
Patent Application Filing
Steve, feeling he really was onto something, asked us to assist him with the preparation and filing of his patent application for his innovation. Then he began working on his marketing using computer-generated virtual prototypes created for him by our designers. After he tried marketing his vent fan system for about a year, Steve felt that he needed a high-quality working prototype in order to take his product to the next level. Steve searched exhaustively to find a local west coast company to assist him with designing and building his prototype. Unfortunately, every engineer and prototype company he spoke with felt his innovation was not feasible or gave him estimates that were too expensive.
Out of frustration, Steve asked if we could help him with the development of his physical prototype. While it may seem hard to comprehend working with a prototype company cross country it was an easy decision for Steve due the the trust and friendship we had already established. We provided Steve with a written estimate to design and build his prototype. Pleased with the proposal Steve hired us to perform industrial design, CAD, costing and sourcing services.
Research & Feasibility
The project was started by researching the primary proposed features, functions and components to determine which components could be obtained off the shelf from existing suppliers and which ones needed to be custom designed and made. After much research, analysis and comparison, we identified several existing components (such as fans, rechargeable batteries, sensors, wires and screws) that could be used to build and test the first prototype. Still, many of the 25+ components (such as the external and internal housing, remote control, electronics, and associated functions) had to be custom designed and built.
Engineering, 3D CAD, Costing
After several months of collaboration the design was approved. Then we performed detailed sourcing and costing options to determine an exact price for the final stage of prototyping. We also calculated manufacturing cost estimates including a component by component and estimated cost per unit breakdown including packaging and shipping FOB.
Steve was very pleased with the results and hired us to build his best effort prototype. After 4 months of hard work, Steve's vent fan prototype was finished and shipped to him. Steve loved his prototype! It worked great and was powerful, efficient and quiet. With a completed prototype, Steve has generated a lot of interest from distributors, retailers and consumers. Currently, the prototype is scheduled to be reviewed by Home Depot in order to determine order interest.
“Working with the Dirt Cheap Prototypes team the last 3 years has been fantastic. Not only have they always put 100% into helping me reach my goals but we have also developed a close personal friendship through brainstorming and working together through all of my product development challenges. I would highly recommend Dirt Cheap Prototypes to anyone who is serious about properly developing and protecting their innovation with an eye towards manufacturing and the marketplace.”
Steve R. - UT
Other Interesting Facts
One of Steve's proposed secondary features was removed from the project in the feasibility stage of the research because the feasibility was highly uncertain.
The first battery cover plate for the prototype broke. This is part of the trial and error process of prototyping. The replacement cover worked great
Steve performed a crowd funding campaign to raise funds for the production of his product. Crowd Funding has become a very popular means for startup manufacturers to raise capital.
Home Depot Review
A representative of Home Depot reviewed Steve's prototype. While impressed they suggested a few improvements they felt would improve the ease of use and consumer appeal. Steve is considering a 2nd prototype iteration to address these enhancements.
Steve came up with another invention and naturally came back to us for assistance. Our team assisted Steve with the preparation, filing and prosecution of his patent application. Steve's patent application was recently approved and we are helping him develop samples & retail packaging.
Engineering & Design
* - Dirt Cheap Prototypes does not provide patent or marketing services.