Kristy WuClarity Expert

Co-Founder of LabX7(your partner turning creative idea to prototype and DFM electronic) at Labx7

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QUESTION: How do you get a product prototype developed in China?

I am looking to develop prototypes for electronic gadgets and prepare design specifications. Ask a few questions to people who make products in China. How do I find a Chinese company that can prototype me? How much does it cost to develop a prototype relative to large-scale actual product costs (such as 1,000 pieces)? How is my IP protected?


This is a very good question and I am very happy to answer it. You asked three questions, and I will try to answer you one-by-one.

Your first question is how to find a Chinese company that can develop prototypes for you? Generally speaking, building a successful product-centric enterprise requires innovation, time and money, and more importantly, a supplier. And it's no surprise why intelligent manufacturing has become an important choice for countries in the context of global value chain restructuring and international division of labor.

Developed countries have now stepped up their efforts to revert manufacturing and enhance the strategic position of manufacturing in the national economy. However, China's intelligent transformation seems to stand out from the competition.

The Chinese government has strengthened the top-level design of intelligent manufacturing by carrying out pilot demonstrations and standard system construction. Chinese enterprises have also accelerated digital transformation and improved system solution capabilities. In case you didn’t know, China has been slowing down from the stereotype of basic manufacturing industry more than a decade ago. The country is slowly entering the high-speed growth period of intelligent manufacturing.

The advantages of working with Chinese companies are quite obvious. China has been the largest consumer of industrial robots for six consecutive years. In fact, according to IFR (International Federation of Robotics), the size of China's industrial robot market is US$4.2 billion in 2017, accounting for 27% of the global market. It is also expected to expand to US$5.9 billion in 2020.

Domestic robot sales will be 16, 19.5, and 238,000 units in 2018-2020, and CAGR will reach 22% in the next three years. The automotive, high-end equipment manufacturing and electronics industries are still major users of industrial robots.

What are the unique advantages of choosing China? Well, the first is the amount of data. The machine learning technology behind the current artificial intelligence boom is extremely dependent on data. Identifying faces, translating languages, and experimenting with driverless cars require a lot of “training data”.

Due to China's large population and huge number of equipment, Chinese companies managed to have a unique, natural advantage in accessing data. Another advantage is that the hardware equipment and factories of Chinese manufacturing enterprises are generally new compared with European and American companies. The result of conversion to products in China likely is low cost and manufacturing speed is fast. No wonder why new technology and good quality become distinguishable traits of Chinese products.

Now, if you are looking for a Chinese supplier, please pay attention to the following points:

Use the Internet to publish and search for information using channels like Alibaba. When looking for a production partner, it's best to use the old-fashioned method. Start by sending an introduction about yourself via the email because, the web is no different from looking for an investor.

In China, Alibaba is a good resource. However, it is almost impossible to distinguish good and bad contract manufacturers. Sometimes, companies on Alibaba sell your products to other companies, even though you may have some patents.

Find an experienced person to introduce. If someone introduces you to some companies, one of the first things you have to do is to confirm that the person who introduced you actually worked with the company introduced to do business.

If that person is currently doing business with a manufacturer in a related field (for example, when you want to make a Wi-Fi sensor, the introducer is a Wi-Fi router), then the company he introduces should be the most effective.

When you evaluate a production partner, the size of the manufacturer's company should match the size of your company. Of course, everyone feels that a large manufacturer like Foxconn may be a good partner as they are able to provide high quality products. However, as a new customer with an annual sales volume of less than 10,000 units, the service they give to your customers may be very different compared to a large customer with an annual sales volume of more than 100,000 units.

Participate in various consumer electronics exhibitions. The participation in various consumer electronics exhibitions can help you meet potential manufacturers. You can set up a booth and display products, which can help you to play a role in the filter. You can introduce the manufacturer according to the degree of success. Many times, they are also looking for new business. If the show is in your country, then you don't need to jump on the plane to go to China.

Pay attention to the culture of the other party. To build a close relationship with your production partners, you must first learn their basic customs and traditions. You also need to understand the holidays of your partners, especially when they are abroad.

Keep close communication. Communication is very important in production because a small detail can either make or break your product. When you choose your partner, make sure their development and project manager speak your native language! The project manager will often contact the manufacturer, and a clear communication between the project manager and the project team is essential to manufacturing your product to your specifications.

Keep up with the progress by having a summary email. This will also help keep up with language communication to make sure everyone understands what is being discussed. Pictures and videos are an important part of the communication process and can also be used to report manufacturing defects in a timely manner. Don't worry about over-communication with partners. It's much better than the lack of communication, which can lead to catastrophic consequences.

The second question is how much does it cost to develop a prototype relative to large-scale actual product costs (such as 1,000 pieces)?

What kind of product do you have in mind? What kind of chip will be used? Do you already have plans regarding storage? These key components need to be identified based on your product capabilities.

For small batches of products, what are your testing requirements? You have to know this to know whether it is necessary to perform functional tests, stress tests, performance tests, anti-interference tests, product life tests, high and low temperature tests and other reliability and performance tests.

You can visit our website (Labx7) or contact our business people, where you can get the best overall performance and cost-optimized solution.

Your last question is about how your IP protected will be protected.

In our case at LABX7, integrity, honesty, openness and reliability are the core concepts of our cooperation with our customers and suppliers. We take the initiative to sign a confidentiality agreement with our customers and intellectual property protection. We fulfill our commitments and protect every labor results. Embracing, openness, transparency, and communication are the criteria for long-term relationships that we have built mutual trust and success, and the goal is to give our customers peace of mind.

Now, let us introduce ourselves to you, hoping to help you with your needs and product requirements. Labx7 is a global technology service innovation company headquartered in Shenzhen, China, and is a national high-tech enterprise.

As the world's leading IoT development and cloud service platform, we focus on product design engineering, development management, supplier resources, intelligent manufacturing, personalization, product distribution and other product management services to help our partners from concept to the product landed. We provide precise service at every step of the project.

LabX7 is committed to helping our partners deliver a superior customer experience, creating innovative, intelligent hardware products that enable them to maintain lasting, solid growth value and added value in the marketplace.

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