Companies that build physical product prototypes of your idea

There are 3D printing services, product development companies, machine shops, manufacturers, & engineering firms that can help you build prototypes, but which one is the right option for you?

Developing a prototype is an essential part of any product development process if you plan to bring a new product idea to market. Whether you are an inventor looking to prototype your invention idea or a startup founder looking to get your product prototype manufactured for crowdfunding and demo purposes, it is important to first understand the different types of prototypes and what type of a prototype development company or service can help you build your prototype.

In this article,


  • Types of companies that build prototypes

  • How to choose the right one for your product

  • How much does it cost to make a prototype


Outdesign Co is a product design and prototyping company working with entrepreneurs & SMEs around the world helping them bring new product ideas to life. 

We have some of the top engineers & designers along with access to world-class manufacturing facilities to turn your ideas into prototypes.
Click here to get in touch to describe your requirements.

Types of Prototyping Companies


There are different types of prototype makers and companies that build prototypes in order to turn your napkin sketch into a physical product. There are 3D printing companies, rapid prototyping services, machine shops, manufacturers, product development companies & engineering firms that can help you build prototypes, but how do you know which one is the right option for you?

Below is a comparison of the different types of services you can use to get your prototype made and the pros & cons of each. This article is tailored to a consumer product prototypes that requires plastic.

1) Rapid Prototyping / 3D Printing Services

Small 3D printing shops that offer rapid prototyping services have become pretty common and you might find several of these near you. Usually they have FDM/FFF, SLS and SLA 3D printers, all of which require 3D CAD files as input.


The major downside is that they don’t have professional product design engineers or designers who can improve your idea and support you all the way to mass production later. This option is best suited when you have an engineer on your team who can develop your idea.


We regularly get inquiries from inventors who want to scale beyond 3D printing but cannot do so without a complete re-design because their parts were not designed keeping in mind high volume processes like injection molding. Therefore, it is better to hire experienced product design engineers who consider DFM (Design for Manufacturing) principles in their design process.



  • Quick turnaround

  • Readily available is most major cities



  • Don’t have professional engineers for the development of your idea from scratch.

  • Cannot assist all the way to mass production/injection molding later

  • Lack DFM(Design for Manufacturability) expertise

  • Cannot take on multi-disciplinary projects involving hardware/electronics

2) Manufacturers


Only rarely do manufacturers help inventors & startups develop a new prototype from scratch as they are more interested in getting larger volume orders to keep their machines running. The most they can do is make very minor adjustments to their existing products and provide you a sample. They are not usually interested in custom development for startups or entrepreneurs.


Also, if you use the manufacturers existing technology or they help you develop the product from scratch, you lose some or all of the ownership and IP rights, especially in Asia and are "locked-in" to manufacture with them.



  • Strong product & industry know-how

  • Ability to rapidly scale from prototype to production



  • Not interested in development of unique new ideas from scratch

  • You lose some or all of the ownership and IP rights



3) Big design firms


Big design firms have a team of engineers & designers on board, along with in-house prototyping abilities that can help you build a prototype of almost any idea. They can assist you through the entire product development process from idea to mass production, but their price keeps them out of the reach of many startups and entrepreneurs.



  • Team of engineers, designers & prototyping under one roof



  • Prototypes can cost a few hundred thousand dollars

  • Suitable for established companies


4) A Better Alternative for Startups – Outdesign Co.


Outdesign Co is a product design & prototyping company helping startups & SMEs around the world bring new products to market. We have an expert team of engineers & designers to help you develop your idea into a prototype along with support for 3D visualization, virtual prototype and animation of your ideas. To learn more, get in touch with us here.



  • IP protection and strict confidentiality

  • Specialized for startups, entrepreneurs & SMEs around the world

  • Access to world-class manufacturing facilities and global partners

  • Additional support with product animation, sell sheets, 3D visualizations and more


  • Some people might prefer a local service


How to choose the right company for your needs?


The answer to this questions depends on various factors like, whether you have engineers or designers on your team, or do you require external engineering resources for the development? What is the purpose of your prototype, is it a proof of concept prototype or does it need to be ready for a crowdfunding campaign, how complex is your product etc.


To understand the various types of prototypes you need to make and an overall roadmap of how to go from idea to mass production while avoiding mistakes, download our new product development roadmap here.



How much does a prototype cost?


If you are making a very rough proof of concept prototype from daily use materials lying around the house, the prototype can cost next to nothing. If you engage the services of a large product development firm, the prototype can cost as much as $500k. There is no simple answer to the question of how much a prototype costs. It depends on the purpose of your prototype, product complexity, materials and more. To get an estimate of how much your prototype would cost, shoot us a message and describe your requirements, we’ll get back to you with an estimate.