While biomedical firms produce innovative products used by healthcare professionals for diagnosing and treating diseases, some medical advances come from the innovations of entrepreneurs and university students. Even though individual inventors may not have the research and development resources of a biotech firm to test new inventions, they can still demonstrate the functionality of their invention with a low-cost prototype.
If you are a creative individual teeming with ideas for useful medical devices, the following outline of the initial product development process will give you an idea of how to make the move from the idea phase to holding a prototype of your invention in your hand.
Create Realistic Drawings
In order to begin the process of creating a prototype you need to develop detailed images of your invention. You can start out with rough sketches on paper and napkins but you need to go further and create realistic, digital images.
First, make sketches of your invention on grid paper that you can purchase from an office supply store. Grid paper is ideal because it enables you to create scale measurements of your invention. Once you create a preliminary sketch, diagram each part of your invention.
If possible, create drawings of each side of your device. Remember to include scale information using the measurements of the squares on the grid paper.
Make Digital Images
Once you have realistic drawings of your invention, you should transfer that image to a digital file. The first step is to scan the image. You can use free image editing programs and a scanner to the digital representation.
If you are savvy with image editing tools, you can perfect the drawings by smoothing out the image and making more accurate lines and curves. Eventually, your drawing will need to be converted into a CAD (computer-aided design) drawing.
If you have CAD software, you can complete this step on your own. However, a product design firm that specializes in rapid prototyping can also create a CAD drawing for you. CAD images are detailed 2D and 3D images of objects.
It is crucial to create accurate digital images of your invention if you plan to apply for a patent. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) requires that you submit precise images of your invention along with your patent application. Rapid prototyping experts and a patent lawyer can help you make sure that the drawings you create meet the requirements of the PTO.
Accurate drawings can increase your chances of having your patent application approved.
Create a Prototype
Once you have a detailed drawing and specifications of your invention, you need to create a prototype. If you are a graduate student at a university with high-tech rapid prototyping tools, you may be able to use your school's resources to complete this step. However, most people will have to seek the assistance of a product development firm to create a prototype.
When you contact a product development firm, the company can provide you with an estimate of how much it will cost to create a prototype based on your digital images. Industrial designers and CAD experts at the firm can also help you to perfect your design.
Product development companies like EIGERlab create prototypes from a wide variety of materials including different types of rubber, silicone, plastics and biologically safe metals such as titanium. They also have access to implant safe materials and colorants.
Once you receive an estimate and submit your drawings, product developers will begin working to create a prototype of your idea.
If you do not have a prototype you will have a hard time demonstrating your invention. Furthermore, you will not be able to provide tactile proof of its usefulness.
There are many ways to obtain funding to begin testing and perfecting your invention. Many first-time inventors seek out venture capitalists and private investors. Others go the crowd-funding route, setting up websites, email marketing and social media campaigns to raise money.
Many enterprising students and researchers enter contests, competing against other inventors, to secure funding from investors and government agencies. Whatever route you choose to raise money, your road to obtaining financing will be smoother if you have a realistic prototype to show potential funders.