Types of Companies that Build Physical Product Prototypes

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 their invention idea or a startup founder looking to get your first product prototype manufactured for crowdfunding, it is important to first understand what type of a prototype development company will be best suited for your particular needs before you go looking around for companies that can help you build your prototype. 

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.

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 a few FDM 3D printers and SLA printers. For plastic prototypes they can offer competitive prices and offer a decent selection of materials. A major downside is that they don't have engineers to help you with the 3D CAD / engineering development of your idea from scratch. Some shops may have technicians who can model simple, low complexity parts. 



  • Competitive pricing

  • Quick turnaround

  • Readily available is most major cities




  • Don’t have professional engineers or designers for product development

  • Usually limited to plastic prototyping

  • Limited manufacturing processes available

2) Manufacturers

Sometimes manufacturers can help you develop a prototype if you manage to convince them of the future prospects of your idea. But usually that’s not the case since manufacturers 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. If you have a product idea that is a slight variation of an existing product, you might have luck working directly with a manufacturer.



  • Strong product & industry know-how

  • Ability to rapidly scale from prototype to production



  • Not interested in design & development of new ideas from scratch

  • Interested in high volume orders

3) Big Design & Engineering 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. But their price keeps them out of the reach of many startups and entrepreneurs. The big firms are more suitable for established businesses that can afford to hire them and still make a positive ROI.



  • Experienced team of engineers & designers

  • In-house rapid prototyping 



  • Prototypes can cost as much as $500k

  • Suitable for established companies

4) A Better Alternative for Startups - Outdesign Co.

Outdesign is a product design & development company in India, we help startups & SMEs around the world bring new products to market affordably. We have an expert team of engineers & designers along with in-house prototyping to help you develop your idea into a prototype. We also have a network of trustworthy manufacturers & partners in India, China & Taiwan through which help you seamlessly scale your prototype into mass production. To learn more, visit our website here.



  • Expert engineers & designers at affordable rates

  • Specialized for startups, entrepreneurs & SMEs around the world

  • Product design, engineering & prototyping, all at one place

  • Network of trustworthy manufacturers & service providers

  • IP protection & strict confidentiality of your idea

  • Quick turnaround & communication



  • Some people might prefer a local service

Get a quick estimate for your project.

Tell us about your requirements in as much detail as possible and we'll get back to you with an estimate. 

How much does it cost to get a prototype made?

The cost of prototype development depends on the complexity of what you’re trying to develop and the quality of prototype. Since this cost varies widely from project to project, we recommend you get a quick quote from us to better understand the costs.

About Us

Outdesign is a product design & development company. We help startups & SMEs create innovate, easy to manufacture products that stand out. Our Portfolio >

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