Invention Prototypes | Cost of Prototypes
How much do invention prototypes cost?





$20,000. 
Cost of a mold.  "It's important to build a $500 prototype and test it out and make sure it works before spending $20,000 on a mold," (Brian Miller of PRe Plastics quoted in Thuy-Doan Le, “Entrepreneurial spirit starts to pay off for Sacramento, Calif.-area inventor,” The Sacramento Bee, December 12, 2004)

$2,000 to $100,000.  Range of costs for an invention prototype.  “While inventors would be happy if they could secure orders with just a rough drawing, they soon discover angel and institutional investors, potential licensors, distributors, retailers and manufacturers would like to see a "looks like, works like" prototype before they consider investing time or money in an idea. That's bad news, because those prototypes are a big expense for inventors, requiring that they shell out anywhere from $2,000 to $100,000 to get one made. Fortunately, you may be able to get your prototypes made for a lot less money using the help that's available in your own hometown.”  How much does it cost to get a prototype made?  (Don Debelak, “Molded in Your Image.(how to build a good prototype),” Entrepreneur, August 1, 2001)  Read more about what Don Debelak has to say about prototypes and introducing products into the marketplace.

$1,000 to $14,000.  Estimated cost of designing and building a prototype.  “If you decide to have a product development company design and build your prototype, be aware that the cost will vary depending on your idea. [T-2 Design Corp. of Santa Monica, California]  charges $60 per hour. Berman estimates the cost of designing and building a prototype to be anywhere from $1,000 to $14,000, depending on the complexity of the product. For prototypes with simple electronics, the starting point is approximately $3,500. Sophisticated electronic prototypes usually start at around $7,000.” How much does a prototype cost? What does it cost to produce invention prototype?  (Tomima Edmark, “Know-it-alls: product development companies make getting your invention to market a cinch,” Entrepreneur, December 1, 1997)

$1000.  Cost of a silicone mold used to produce a small production run prototype.  When Joe Robertson, of Fremont, California, came up with a innovative product idea for cleaning his swimming pool filter, he needed to build a prototype.  His first prototype was crude and it would never go anywhere.  He and is partner, Dave Dudley, a mechanical engineer, concluded that they needed a way to make an inexpensive temporary mold to produce a better prototype to show to local stores. “Unsure of exactly how to do it, Robertson and Dudley attended a meeting of a local inventors' club to see whether anyone there could suggest a low-cost solution to their production problem. There they met Ben Ridge, a silicone-mold-making expert…”  [Using silicone molding] Ridge offered to help them make a temporary mold that could be used for a small run on an injection-molding machine.  Ridge was able to create the temporary mold in his shop, providing Robertson and Dudley with enough parts to sell their product, dubbed the Spin Clean, to six or seven local pool-supply stores. According to Dudley, the mold they made ‘ended up costing about $1,000 vs. the cost of up to $20,000 that most mold-makers would have charged.’”  (Don Debelak, “Molded in Your Image - How to build a good prototype,” Entrepreneur, August 1, 2001)

$500.  Target cost for a prototype.  "It's important to build a $500 prototype and test it out and make sure it works before spending $20,000 on a mold," Low cost prototype.  (Brian Miller of PRe Plastics quoted in Thuy-Doan Le, “Entrepreneurial spirit starts to pay off for Sacramento, Calif.-area inventor,” The Sacramento Bee, December 12, 2004)

Less than $100.  Cost of prototype of a rooftop wind turbine developed by inventor Chad Maglaque.  “West Seattle resident Chad Maglaque . . . envisions a small wind turbine on every rooftop. Each would churn out energy to help power homes across Seattle.  ‘For me, so many of these [wind] systems just aren't practical,’ Maglaque said, referring to expenses and inspections needed to install other wind devices. "  …He calls his idea a simple one that combines several everyday parts into a wind-power generator. The 3-foot turbine would be mounted on a rooftop or wind tower and plugged directly into an outdoor electrical socket.  The turbine's variable-speed motor similar to those found in a blender or ceiling fan is then connected directly to the electrical grid.  The turbine is equipped with a device that senses when there is enough wind to operate. That automatically turns the motor on, allowing the wind-driven turbine to generate electricity to be used in the home or fed back to the grid.  A handful of small wind turbines already have been developed, but they require an expensive converter to take variable wind energy and turn it into a uniform current appropriate for the grid.  Maglaque says his design doesn't need a converter and can be plugged directly into the grid. He hopes his prototype, called the Jellyfish wind turbine, will be easy for homeowners to use. . . . The prototype cost Maglaque less than $100 to build, but he expects each turbine would sell for $400 or $500.” (Michelle Ma, The Seattle Times, “Seattle inventor hopes Google contest will help rooftop wind turbine fly,” McClatchy-Tribune Regional News, January 26, 2009)


Only 10% of those who make prototypes end-up making money.  "Brian Miller, PRe Plastics' director of operations, said about 10 percent of inventors who come to him leave with a mold, and about 10 percent of those people make money.  ‘They have to survive the cost of the mold. Very few inventors who come through the door get the mold done, let alone find success.’”  (Brian Miller of PRe Plastics quoted in Thuy-Doan Le, “Entrepreneurial spirit starts to pay off for Sacramento, Calif.-area inventor,” The Sacramento Bee, December 12, 2004)