You have an idea for a new product, and you would like to start the product development and testing process, but don’t possess the necessary facilities or expertise yourself. Most startups and entrepreneurs in that situation secure investors and grants to fund their work with an outside laboratory capable of manufacturing and testing their product. However, finding a manufacturing-specific laboratory might be more difficult than you realize. We hope that this blog will help demystify the manufacturing laboratory landscape, and put you on the path towards making the most of your product development budget.
Where to Find a Manufacturing Laboratory
Manufacturing laboratories properly outfitted with the technology required to both manufacture and test your concept are uncommon, but not impossible to find. One of the best places to look is at universities. For example, MIT’s Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity (LMP) is a longstanding and robust program, staffed by Department of Engineering faculty and researchers who routinely collaborate with, “Representatives of industrial firms associated with the laboratory’s research and education.” For companies seeking to make use of university laboratories, it certainly helps to have a product in mind that already compliments the existing research being conducted at that particular institution. Like MIT, most universities want to facilitate innovation that benefits their own research projects, rather than spend inordinate resources on projects that require equipment and expertise they don’t currently possess. If you’re unable to find a university program that suits your manufacturing application, we suggest having a Plan B for finding the right research and development laboratory.
For most, that Plan B will likely be a private laboratory. There are several options for private laboratories that focus on a myriad of manufacturing applications. Private labs routinely rent out their spaces and sometimes their expertise to companies looking to conduct their research and development process. Finding the right one for you depends entirely on your specific area of manufacturing, and how lucrative private laboratories find outfitting that particular niche.
The final option for securing a product development space is of course, building your own laboratory. Depending on the amount of funding your project has, this option has significant benefits. Building your own space and purchasing your own equipment, though having a large upfront cost, allows you to conduct your research according to your own schedule and refine the space according to your specific needs. Although, it’s important to consider that the start date of your testing and development process is contingent on the laboratory’s construction, making this option more ideal for business with substantial research and development budgets and longer timelines.
Time is Money: The Logistics of R&D
Securing laboratory space is unfortunately not the only hurdle in beginning the process of research and development. Filling that space with competent scientists, engineers, researchers, technicians, and machine operators well-versed in developing your concept is no small task. Some companies choose to directly hire their research and development staff in order to ensure that those with the right expertise are at the helm of their product design, however, that particular option can be a lengthy and expensive process. As an alternative, some laboratories provide you with their own staff as part of their contract fees. Though this secondary option reduces the amount of direct control your company has on the hiring process, working with a well-established manufacturing laboratory that already specializes in your concept’s manufacturing requirements can help lessen any anxiety.
At Faustel, our Technology Center focuses on developing coating technology with a wide range of industry applications. Like manufacturing laboratories, we provide the skilled technical staff to run the experiment, however, the difference is we also offer extensive experience in machine design and development, which provides a unique perspective on which process will work best as the transition is made to actual production. Our view of the research and development process is one of collaboration. The more communication that passes between our customers and our engineering and technical staff, the smoother the process of R&D becomes. For our customers, the ability to leverage the experience of our manufacturing laboratory staff is a major benefit, because real-time seamless collaboration keeps their project on time, all while keeping to a manageable budget.
For more information on how Faustel can help with your next product development project, please contact our team via the Contact portal at www.faustel.com.