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Learning Center

Read below, and learn from a variety of topics related to design, manufacturing and entrepreneurship.

Also, visit our BLOG to learn about other, more current industry topics.

FACTORY SOURCING
FACTORY SOURCING

Looking for a trusted supplier is one of the hardest challenges entrepreneurs face. The uncertainty of dealing with a business entity in a different country, in a different language may seem insurmountable. The chances of miscommunication, errors and plainly being out of synch during the manufacturing process can sometimes be nerve wracking.

Finding a good factory goes beyond simply talking to them and coming to an agreement. An infrastructure of checks and balances, manufacturing documentation and inspection criteria will ensure that factories deliver products in good working condition, that meet visual requirements and packaging criteria.

Our staff in China can endeavor factory visits, phone calls and inspections during China business hours (12 hours ahead). Let us know how we can help by filling out our contact form and signing a secure Non-Disclosure Agreement.

MANUFACTURING MANAGEMENT
MANUFACTURING MANAGEMENT

The fear of receiving pallets and pallets of unusable products can make even the best entrepreneurs wake up in a cold sweat. The notion that Chinese factories don't really care about delivering perfect products is not far from reality. Constant communication and a proper checkpoint structure and inspection criteria will reduce the likelihood of errors drastically. A management process that takes into account the schedules is key when producing products overseas.

PRODUCT DESIGN
PRODUCT DESIGN

Product design involves a number of different processes. The great thing about having the team at Prototype Monster working on your invention is that we can complete all the processes necessary to get your idea to the next level. The processes used in product design include:

1 – Concept Sketching

This is where we turn your idea into something visual that brings it to life. Once that idea hits paper, we can start to build on creating the complete concept.

2 – 3D Modeling

This process creates an actual model of your idea that can be held in your hands. The model gives your idea a look and feel that is beyond paper sketches.

3 – Mechanical Engineering

This is where all the nuts and bolts of your invention become a working reality. The engineering phase ensures that everything is functional with your product.

4 – CAD Design

This process takes your idea to a computer and fine tunes the look and function. It basically redefines the entire product and results in a ‘showroom ready’ version.

5 – Product Packaging

This is where your invention takes on the look it will have when consumers are shopping for it. An eye for attractive and user friendly packaging plays a role here.

6 – POP Display

This process develops the display that will hold and share your product in retail locations. It also creates the visual that will be connected to your product and future product lines.

When a new product is in the design phase, a lot of things happen that all work together to get that item to market. At Prototype Monster we take you through each and every step of the process. Our goal is to get your idea turned into a money-making product for you. In order to do this, we must follow the many different steps as outlined above.

By taking your idea through each of these processes we can develop your product so that it becomes an item that has function and purpose. Without these two key components, your invention will not be successful. Our in-house design team has years of experience working with inventors and the computer programs necessary to move your idea into reality. Our experience is one of the best tools you will have access to when you become part of the Prototype Monster family. Let us work with you on the design of your product. We want you to succeed and with our expert help, your invention will become the latest household must-have product.

This is a long, detailed and time consuming process but with us working alongside you, you will become part of our team. Our team will work to create something great from your invention idea.

At Prototype Monster we can take your idea along that journey to reality. Product Design is an important step along that route. Prototype Monster is based in South Florida. We are a design and engineering firm that provides service to clients across the United States and Caribbean.

3D CAD MODELING
3D CAD MODELING

3D Computer-Aided Design (CAD) Modeling is a crucial step in the development of your product. The process provides value data related to the special requirements of your invention. The 3D model will bring to life the external shape and size of your product idea. It will also show buttons, vents and the minutest of details including screw sizes and lengths, bump stops and internal manufacturing provisions.

At Prototype Monster we utilize highly advanced CAD software and are able to assign concrete, reality-based sizing as well as real dimensions of off-the-shelf components such as power supplies, electronic or over-the-counter hardware. The main advantage to 3D CAD Modeling is that it allows for efficient modifications to the model as a whole or to specific parts.

What 3D CAD Modeling does is it provides you with a Virtual Prototype of your product that can be used in several ways including:

Screen Shots
Photorealistic Renderings
Animations

Step-By-Step Assembly/Usage Instructions
The 3D CAD Model is a representation of your product in an environment where multiple design considerations can coexist within a database that can modify one or several of them. That is what sets 3D apart from 2D drawings. For example, any slight modification can be made and a 3D model produced instantly. With 2D drawings, a slight modification results in complete redrawing.

At Prototype Monster our designers utilize top design software including SolidWorks, ProEngineer, Creo and others. These software packages give us the ability to create digital databases of your product at 1:1 scale which means the computer design is made with real dimensions and proportions. Nothing is scaled down. The 3D CAD Modeling also gives us a means of displaying all movable parts related to the functionality of your product.

3D CAD models come about in many different ways:

An innovative accessory to an existing product can begin as a 3D scan of the original product. The scan data would then be used to build the new product.
A geometric pattern based on factors or anatomy of where the product would be used.
A product built using off-the-shelf parts.
Because 3D CAD Modeling demonstrates functionality and potential future design modifications, this is a step many entrepreneurs and corporations are using as it represents a huge cost saving. The benefits are great with a 3D model of your product as it helps you deliver impactful presentations that can secure funding.

The main benefits to 3D CAD Modeling are:

It creates a database that can be used to create 3D Printed or Machined prototypes.
It allows us to create highly detailed blueprint shop drawings to either obtain manufacturing quotes or to convey your design intent to fabricators/manufacturers.

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING
MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

This is where a thorough understanding of various principles is crucial. Engineering, physics and materials science and how all of them relate to design, manufacturing and mechanical systems is essentially the premise behind the Mechanical Engineering stage. Considered one of the oldest and broadest of the engineering disciplines, it is still required as part of the journey from idea to reality.

A mechanical engineer is far more than your extra design person. In fact, the ME requires knowledge and the ability to apply that knowledge to mechanics, dynamics, thermodynamics, materials science, structural analysis and the principles of electricity.

The role played by a mechanical engineer in the development process of turning your idea into reality is extensive. Their responsibilities are as varied as their knowledge base and include:

Design or the redesign of your product using test analysis and CAD
The development and testing of prototypes
Analyze issues that result from product testing and change designs where needed
Build and supervise the manufacturing of prototypes
With the assistance of CAE (computer-aided engineering) and CAD software, design and analysis, a mechanical engineer has additional tools to work with along with 2D and 3D models during the design and analysis processes. The benefits to these are many and include:

Easy and exhaustive product visualization opportunities
The capability of creating virtual parts
Simplified design requirements for mating interfaces and tolerances
The CAE programs employed by the Mechanical Engineering department here at Prototype Monster provide product life cycle and analysis tools that enable complex, real-life simulations. These simulations can reveal potential weaknesses in the design of your product that can be corrected and retested. Other tools that may come into play, depending on the product being tested include:

FEA – Finite Element Analysis
FEA – Computational Fluid Dynamics
CAM – Computer-aided Manufacturing
With the assistance of CAE programs, your product will be designed and redesigned to meet cost, performance and other potential constraints. These results are available quickly and can be adapted far cheaper than having to start at the beginning again with a redesign of your original product idea. At Prototype Monster we utilize the best computer programs available for Mechanical Engineering. Plus, we use all the standard programs that are currently used by the best Mechanical Engineers on the planet.

Essentially, Mechanical Engineering finds better and cheaper ways to produce your product. It may mean finite or radical design changes but without the assistance of a Mechanical Engineer, your idea may not get much further along the route to reality. That is why we have included an extensive Mechanical Engineering department here at Prototype Monster. Mechanical Engineers are the experts on how to turn your product from an idea into a winner.

At Prototype Monster we can take your idea along that journey to reality. Mechanical Engineering is an important step along that route. Prototype Monster is based in South Florida. We are a design and engineering firm that provides service to clients across the United States and Caribbean.

PATENT SEARCH
PATENT SEARCH

A proper patent search can uncover existing IP (Intellectual Property) which can become a roadblock to your progress. Depending on the type of invention and the amount of claimed material, your invention could be at risk of being developed “with blinders on” which could prove to be very costly and time consuming.

There are several types of patent searches, each one has a different purpose and we can help you select the right one for your scenario. Here are a few patent search types that are applicable to the product development process. There are others not listed here to avoid creating confusion.

Patentability Search: This type of search is normally performed after we have determined that the invention covers patentable subject matter and has utility. The search focuses on finding prior art references that may be relevant to the invention’s novelty and non-obviousness. The form these prior art references could come in comprise a wide array of materials, including but not limited to issued patents, published patent applications, journals and other non-patent literature, such as shopping databases, newspaper articles, etc., and can have been made public at any point prior to the invention’s creation.

Clearance Search: Also known as a Freedom to Operate (FTO) Search, Right to Use Search, or Infringement Search, it concentrates on finding enforceable patents that might act as roadblocks to commercialization of your invention. Note that for a patent to remain enforceable, it must have all its maintenance fees paid at the proper intervals. Problematic patents can be addressed in several ways, including the formulation of sound and sufficient non-infringing “workarounds”, obtaining a license from the patent owner or consulting with a seasoned patent attorney regarding the potential infringement and suggested courses of action.

Validity Search: This search is like a patentability search due to part of its scope being to assess novelty and non-obviousness. However, the assessment is made on the patent instead of the invention. This type of search is initiated in one of two cases. In the first scenario, a patent owner would desire to assess the strength of his patent in preparation for enforcement of the same. In the second scenario, an accused infringer would be looking to ascertain the validity of an asserted patent. Other names for validity searches are “invalidity” search and “enforcement readiness” search.

Selecting a patent search can be a daunting task, as each search will focus on a different aspect of the invention and the results can vary wildly depending on the focus. Let us review your invention and product requirements prior to starting a patent search. We can help you define project and product goals which could play an important role in IP acquisition.

PROVISIONAL PATENT APPLICATION (PPA)
PROVISIONAL PATENT APPLICATION (PPA)

A Provisional Patent Application (PPA) gives the filing entity a period of 12 months to claim, “Patent Pending” status. This application in effect establishes an early filing date, which later would be used as the formal filing date when filing a Non-Provisional Patent Application (Utility Patent).

Typically, products entering the commercial market start out with a PPA in place. This allows the filing entity to gauge whether the product will gather sufficient interest and/or market penetration to justify the filing procedures and costs of a utility patent. Having this PPA in place provides the filing entity with a first line of defense against counterfeits and copycats. As a bonus, it allows the filer to claim, “patent pending” status which adds a layer of seriousness to the product.

A common mistake by new inventors is to assume a PPA “becomes” a utility patent automatically. This could not be furthest from reality, as a utility patent undergoes a completely different, and much more stringent examination process. The USPTO gives PPA’s a 1-year long lifecycle. After completion of this year, the filing entity must file a utility patent application to begin the formal patent examination process. The benefit of filing a PPA is that the inventor can claim an early filing date which will limit the amount of prior art that can be used during the examination process. There are some caveats to this early filing date, for example, this early filing date will not be used if the utility patent is filed late. Also, any content included in the utility patent which was not claimed in the PPA will nullify the early filing date.

A widely known fact is that your invention can be sold to a third-party once a PPA has been filed and the product has patent pending status. However, if the product is developed during the 1-year PPA grace period, and new content is added to the utility patent, this will nullify the early filing date, creating complications for the inventor.

Non-Provisional applications cost more than PPA applications and require more detail within the technical texts and drawings. Many inventors choose to leverage the 1-year provisional period provided by a PPA filing to price-test their inventions and establish a baseline for commercial viability. If after the passage of 12 months the inventor has determined that commercial viability is not optimal, he can choose to either sell it, withdraw it, or allow it to lapse. However, a Non-Provisional Patent must be filed if the inventor realizes that there is market potential and he wants to continue his commercialization efforts. Failure to file this continuation will result in the expiry/lapse of the initial application.

Does this process seem confusing to you? Let us guide you through the process. Every idea is different, every inventor is different, and your Vision for your product could be different than everyone else’s. Allow us to craft a custom plan for IP development along with a timeline and the proper deliverables.

UTILITY PATENT
UTILITY PATENT

Utility patents are the most common types of patents. This is mainly reflected in the numbering system. As of January 2018, the utility patents number currently are listing around 9 million, 877 thousand. In comparison, design patents are in the 800 thousand.

What Do Utility Patents Cover?
Utility patents are used to cover inventions which have working mechanisms, functional features and generally products that are real, tangible and interact with humans in one way or another. By definition, they fall into the category of “Machines”. However, there are 4 different types of utility patents which are listed below:

Product must be statutory, meaning that it needs to fall into one of four categories. 99.9% of the inventions we deal with at PMI fall under category #2 of Machines. The four categories are as follows:

Processes: Chemicals, computer code, food products, etc.

Machines: A concrete thing, consisting of parts, or of certain devices and combination of devices.

Article of Manufacture: The production of articles for use from raw or prepared materials by giving to these materials new forms, qualities, properties, or combinations, whether by hand-labor or by machinery.

Composition of Manufacture: A composition of matter is an instrument formed by the intermixture of two or more ingredients and possessing properties which belong to none of these ingredients in their separate state.

Product must be a Novelty: What this means is that the invention cannot have been in the public domain before the application was filed. The USPTO has specific rules to follow which include a 1-year grace period between the time the inventor disclosed his invention to the public and the time he filed for patent protection. We strongly recommend filing for patent protection before doing any type of public disclosure.

Product should be Useful: In other words, the invention must have a useful purpose. Patents which do not meet this criterion usually fall under the category of Design Patents.

Product should meet the Non-Obviousness Requirement: This is one of the most difficult determinations within the entire patent process, as the USPTO examiner must make the determination whether the new invention can be pieced together using existing IP from previously granted patents. To make such a determination, an examiner will review previous patent documents as well as published patent applications that are closely related to the invention. If all the features can be found in one patent, or a combination of existing patents the examiner will generally reject the invention as an obvious combination of items known in the prior art.

How to find out if your invention merits a Utility Patent?
A combination of factors will determine whether your invention merits a utility patent.

For starters, a proper patent search will surface any similar patents which may be registered with the USPTO, whether they are lapsed, valid or outdated will be one factor in the process and will help us determine the availability of prior art similar to your invention.

Secondly, a thorough, professional market search will give us visibility of existing products in the market which already exist and are being sold. It is highly likely that we will find a product that is eerily similar or a product which can produce the same results as your invention. Whether they are potential infringement hazards, patent pending time bombs or dead ends, each product we find gives your search more validity and depth.

Thirdly, the professional experience of a seasoned product developer will be key in determining whether any design workarounds are feasible in order to successfully “circumvent” an existing patent. Using sound design techniques and engineering principles, it is possible to design alternatives that are able to ‘go around’ an existing patent.

Lastly, a great Patent Attorney will be key in determining the feasibility of your invention, as well as the proper guidance for patent preparation and filing.

How we Help
Prototype Monster has the proven experience and trajectory in the IP (Intellectual Property) field required to endeavor the process of invention development, patent preparation and filing.

Using key connections and trusted Agents and Attorneys, we are able to leverage our knowledge for the benefit of our partners. Contact us today to review your product requirements and to craft a unique plan of action.

PATENT DRAWINGS
PATENT DRAWINGS

A patent drawing typically accompanies a patent application. Patent drawings must include illustrations of the invention, aspects of its construction, features and inner workings if there are any. The USPTO requires patent drawings to show every detail of the invention and dictates the size and type of paper the drawing has to be on, the size of the margins around the paper, as well as acceptable line types, preferred line weights and many other factors.

PMI is a product development firm based in Miami, Florida that specializes in developing ideas from their infancy all the way to full fledged commercialization and beyond. As part of the product development process, we have a strong emphasis on IP acquisition and have the expertise and knowledge required to efficiently guide projects through this complex task in an organized manner.

Patent drawings are created by a team of Engineers, Mechanical Designers, Industrial Designers and Illustrators under the guidance of Tony Suarez. Our methodology for creating patent drawings includes the use of cutting-edge technology and 3D software. This software allows us to create all the required views of a product in any number of configurations required. Our team of fine artists and illustrators can add hand-drawn features such as human limbs, human outlines or anatomical features that 3D software cannot embody.

Our experience with patents and patent drawings allows our partners to leverage their ideas and inventions to reach milestones on time and within budget. Contact us today to review your hand drawn patent drawings. Whether we need to simply redraw them by hand, redraw them using vector software, or develop them in 3D modeling CAD software, we are confident we can produce excellent patent drawings guaranteed to satisfy the strictest USPTO examiners.

LICENSING
LICENSING

There is nothing that compares to the feeling you get when your invention hits the production line and starts to hit store shelves. It is typically a long road to get to this point and once you enter the production phase your journey from idea to reality is far from over. In fact, probably the most intense part of the process is at the point where you have to consider product licensing.

The idea of product licensing is that you essentially give a manufacturing company the ‘license’ to produce your product on your behalf. What this does is save you the cost of manufacturing yourself which would severely impact your profit line. So, by licensing your product you bring another party into your invention creation process.

But how do you do it?
At Prototype Monster we will guide you through the intricate details that result in product licensing. Things you will have to complete prior to licensing that we will assist you with include:

Patent filing
Prototype production
Market testing/analysis
Documentation on how your product works
Goals you wish to reach with your product
One of the major licensing decisions you will face is whether or not to utilize exclusive or non-exclusive licensing. This is the direction you will have to explore and decide upon as it will determine whether or not you will license your product and have it manufactured by another company or not. In addition to these very important decisions, you will also have to determine what your product is worth. This process includes comparisons with similar products in the marketplace to yours and the profit margin that can come from manufacturing yours.

Then there’s more paperwork. But don’t worry, at Prototype Monster we can assist with the design of your professional information packet that will be distributed to various manufacturing companies. We’ll also help you to protect your design and product concept with non-disclosure agreements and confidentiality agreements. In other words, we can give you all the tools you need to keep your product safe and sound as your seek a manufacturing partner.

Imagine trying to do all of that on your own. It’s a huge task but we can save you a lot of time and effort with our licensing department.

We understand how protective inventors can become when they are this close to having their product manufactured. This is why it is so important to have the correct product licensing agreements in place. See us at Prototype Monster for all of your licensing requirements.

At Prototype Monster we can take your idea along that journey to reality. Licensing is an important step along that route. Prototype Monster is based in South Florida. We are a design and engineering firm that provides service to clients across the United States and Caribbean.