Producing and Marketing Electronic Inventions

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Michael Vickers
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Producing and Marketing Electronic Inventions

Post by Michael Vickers » Sat Mar 01, 2003 4:24 pm

I have a number of electronic inventions that I'd like to market to a certain niche market. Obviously, doing so involves more than stuffing the electronics to a project enclosure as I have done with some prototypes.<p>How does one normally go about packaging their electronics to sell to the public?<p>Also for those of you with experience with doing so, what are the possible pitfalls that I should ready for?

russlk
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Re: Producing and Marketing Electronic Inventions

Post by russlk » Sat Mar 01, 2003 8:11 pm

I will put in my 2 cents, even tho I have not been successful in selling my projects.<p>The external package should have the look and feel of simular items that are on the market. For small quantities, this will be very expensive, so you may want to go with a high quality ready-made enclosure which will cost $50-$100. To reduce cost, put everything on the PC board, and design for minimum assembly labor.<p>If you are planning any quantity, say 100 or more, you will need to contract with an assembly house. They will want money up front, or else they don't know what they are doing.<p>The big stumbling block, in many cases, is developing a distribution channel. You can try selling yourself, on line, or a local dealer may agree to display your items. In any case, you need to advertise. Once you get a flow going, you can try to get a national mail-order house to carry your items.

Michael Vickers
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Re: Producing and Marketing Electronic Inventions

Post by Michael Vickers » Sat Mar 01, 2003 10:12 pm

Up until volumes would make things too restrictive I would be prepared to handle the assembly between myself and other friends who are skilled in the business, and believe in my vision. The problem is, I need to develop an enclosure that has "the look and feel of simular items that are on the market." <p>How does an electronic business develop its packaging?<p>PS: The distribution channel would not be a problem for me.

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Re: Producing and Marketing Electronic Inventions

Post by haklesup » Sat Mar 01, 2003 11:28 pm

For packaging, you have a few choices. Easiest and most attractive for low volume are off the shelf enclosures from any number of manufacturers (Bud, Hammond, Oki etc.)Add a custom silkscreened faceplate and metalic sticker or nameplate with your info/logo and you have it. <p>Without knowing anything about your invention I cannot recommend any specific boxes but there are many to choose from that look quite professional. Give me some hint of the basic size and shape (Computer sized, handheld instrument, rack mount, table top box) and I may have a suggestion.<p>For a custom look you would either go plastic which requires expensive molds and very high volume to be cost effective or you could go with custom bent/punched sheet-metal and/or machined parts with custom paint and silkscreen. You can control the design costs by learning AutoCAD but the per piece price could be moderately high. <p>An expensive box may be ok though. Some niche markets will put up with high prices if you are giving them something unique and useful. On the other hand I have seen a few electronic instruments selling in some very basic boxes.<p>In addition to silkscreening there are other technologies for labeling. selective electroplating, anodized patterns and etched surfaces all look great when done right.<p>Make sure that you pay attention to "ease of assembly" even if you plan to make the first thousand yourself, once your volume increases, you may have to go into another design phase so that it is easier to make by assembly companies.<p>Also be aware if you get quotes for manufacturing (pcb fab, metal work etc) they are low right now and shops are very competitive due to the economy. In a few years those costs could double.

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Re: Producing and Marketing Electronic Inventions

Post by Michael Vickers » Sun Mar 02, 2003 9:17 am

The packaging I have in mind would be similar to a tobacco can, maybe a bit smaller. I was also thinking of going metal (aluminum) for better heat dissipation.<p>Also, the enclosure should be water-tight.

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Externet
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Re: Producing and Marketing Electronic Inventions

Post by Externet » Sun Mar 02, 2003 10:46 am

Hi Michael.
There is plenty of metal enclosure manufacturing plants.
Start with the Thomas register publication or internet search for the ones in your neighborhood; they can make it deep drawn or stamped.
If small quantities are in mind, go to several stores like HomeDepot and look for gadgets whose cost is low enough to canibalize the item for the enclosure. Be ready to spend many hours looking carefully at many types of supplies stores; kitchen, toys, industrial, jewelry, automotive (even wreck yards), sport equipment, multitude of spare parts suppliers, even supermarket packaging (I was thinking of those nylon stockings eggs just to give an unusual source example)
Also, a nice (plastic) housing for many small gadgets are the beeper enclosures available for fancy color fans; their price and finish can never beat a custom fabrication.
And you will find MANY more. Good luck,<p>Miguel
- Abolish the deciBel ! -

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Re: Producing and Marketing Electronic Inventions

Post by russlk » Sun Mar 02, 2003 5:36 pm

A cast aluminium case with O-ring may be just what you need. Check out the 1590Z series made by Hammond Manufacuring and sold by Digi-Key. The size you want costs about $20.

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Re: Producing and Marketing Electronic Inventions

Post by Michael Vickers » Tue Mar 04, 2003 2:30 pm

Thanks for all the help guys.<p>Those 1590Z cases look good for low-volume productions. But I can't seem to figure out a good way to drop in a pot, two push buttons and a small LCD display, while keeping the watertightness.<p>Any ideas?

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Re: Producing and Marketing Electronic Inventions

Post by Externet » Tue Mar 04, 2003 3:43 pm

Hi Michael.
A potentiometer and two pushbuttons are enemies of watertightness. (There are watertight available too)<p>If you replace the pushbuttons with reed switches, and the potentiometer with an up/down digital potentiometer using two more reed switches, everything can go in a clear plexiglas pipe (threaded and capped at ends) to show the display; external sliding magnets will do the contact. (Like a diver flashlight power switch)<p>Or,<p>Use the clear threaded-ends plexiglas pipe with removable gasketed end-caps; you remove one end to access the switches/pot flush panel and screw back the cap tight after set.
Same with the other end; gives you access to replace the battery.<p>Miguel
-scuba diver- ... when my belly was not with me...
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Re: Producing and Marketing Electronic Inventions

Post by bodgy » Tue Mar 04, 2003 7:37 pm

Michael, <p>I know it's off at a tangent, there is a German or Swedish company that do stick on tactile switches in various shapes soem if I recall with cutouts. If I remember correctly they can do custom made and have some stock ones with display overlays inlcuded. <p>I just can't recall the company's name, the minimum order for al la carte was 10 pieces.<p>Colin
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Michael Vickers
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Re: Producing and Marketing Electronic Inventions

Post by Michael Vickers » Tue Mar 04, 2003 8:45 pm

Externet,
I love the idea of the clear pipe, but do you think the plastic would dissipate heat properly? I wonder if I could mate a clear lid on a metal pipe?<p>I also like your idea with the reed switches. Though I wonder if a 4 key membrane pad mounted on the outside would do the trick as well. I'd have to drill a small hole for the wires, but it could be easily sealed and hidden. <p>I also forgot to mention that there would be another plug that would be mounted on the device. This would be used for battery charging and I/O. I've already got a waterproof plug picked out for this, but it brings up another problem.<p>I'd like to keep the battery permanently mounted in the unit (well, until the battery needs replacement). However as I said, the unit is to be waterproof (i.e. airtight). The problem is that the battery manufacturers' OEM data sheets don't recommend this. Is this a serious concern?I've this in other similar equipment. How do they get away with it?<p>On an unrelated topic, I'd like to say that in my limited opinion, the Nuts and Volts forum is the class of the internet. All you regular posters should be proud of maintaining this informative resource.

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Re: Producing and Marketing Electronic Inventions

Post by chessman » Tue Mar 04, 2003 9:34 pm

Colin,<p>I know the company you are talking about, fits the description, I actually have a sample of their work, and it's killer quality, I'll work on finding the literature I have so I can inform the board....<p>On the topic of watertightness, there is a company called Hi-Tech Controls, Inc. that specializes in a line of "Liquid Tight Industrial Enclosures". These are all impact-resistant, watertight, and the have hole guides in the sides to open with a knockout punch. Some of the enclosures even have a clear lid to see inside, and the LCD could be mounted in the enclosure.<p>With heat dissipation, you might not have to worry about it. If the enclosure is meant to be underwater, then the water around it will naturally cool the air inside the box, in turn dissipating the heat. If it's not to be underwater, I don't have any ideas, but how much heat could it really generate? I mean, to be a problem we're talking quite a bit of heat, and that's a big task for a battery to produce. Unless of course, the time between charges is to be short.<p>The same company mentioned above has liquid tight pushbuttons that drop right into their enclosures, as well as strain reliefs. I suggest you take a look at them.<p>
<a href="http://www.hitechcontrols.com
" target="_blank">http://www.hitechcontrols.com[/URL]</a><p>Their number is 1-303-680-5159, and they are located in Centennial, CO, USA<p>Keep us posted, sounds interesting!
~Kyle

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Re: Producing and Marketing Electronic Inventions

Post by Bernius1 » Wed Mar 05, 2003 4:45 am

Another interesting site is http://www.peerlesselectronics.com
Mostly industrial electro-automation,including the membrane keypads such.
Can't we end all posts with a comical quip?

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Externet
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Re: Producing and Marketing Electronic Inventions

Post by Externet » Wed Mar 05, 2003 8:34 am

Hi Michael...<p>"I love the idea of the clear pipe, but do you think the plastic would dissipate heat properly?" <p>===> In my opinion, a battery operated device smaller than the size of -a pack of cigarettes I guess- would hardly need a substantial heat sinking, or your battery would last only ~5 minutes.
I would not be concerned with heat dissipation. (I am in guess mode without knowing voltages and currents on your device, I would not consider need for metal) <p>
"I wonder if I could mate a clear lid on a metal pipe?"<p>====> Anything is possible... in my neighborhood, there is a place called 'TAP plastics' where they custom make anything that you can come up with.<p>Or check for threaded cap petri dishes in chemistry/biology laboratory supplies... or cosmetics packaging.<p>"I also forgot to mention that there would be another plug that would be mounted on the device. This would be used for battery charging and I/O. I've already got a waterproof plug picked out for this, but it brings up another problem."<p>====> Go hi-tech... Make an induction coupled charger, you will have no need for fancy costly connectors. Now, I/O is another story... that would have to be accesible during wet operation... hmmm... I will stay away on that...<p>"I'd like to keep the battery permanently mounted in the unit (well, until the battery needs replacement). However as I said, the unit is to be waterproof (i.e. airtight). The problem is that the battery manufacturers' OEM data sheets don't recommend this. Is this a serious concern?I've this in other similar equipment. How do they get away with it? "<p>====> Check if using Li-ion instead you do not have the venting problem; anyway, NiCd's are garbage, have always been, will always be.<p>I could send you pictures of a device made inside the clear pipe to the address you may supply. I get confused on how to insert pictures within text in this forum.<p>Miguel
- Abolish the deciBel ! -

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