Product Development Specialist @ Aire Plastics. Creator of the 12 Step Product Development Process.
I work for a Injection Molding company. Injection molded grades of plastic will behave differently than Blow Molding Grades, sheet plastic or extruded grades.
I could write an encyclopedia here on this subject as it is very complicated and there are a lot of different types of plastics and grades of each one of them.
As far as Injection molded plastics goes, the easiest to recycle are also (luckily) the most common. Polyethylene (HDPE, PE, LDPE), Polypropylene (PP, homo or copolymers) ABS, Poly-carbonate (PC), PVC and Nylon.
All of these materials will lose strength and other properties when recycled. It is always recommended to mix virgin material with the recycled material (known as regrind). What percentage would depend on the material and the molded part.
For HDPE and PP you could use up to 70% regrind, depending on the barrel size of the machine. Virgin material is in round pellets but regrind will have rough edges and won't flow down the hopper as easily.
ABS and PC can be mixed together in many cases and can be used in mixes up to 50% without any major property loss.
Nylon 10%-20% but it is hydroscopic so it will absorb or lose moisture when recycled. This will change it's flexibility and strength. This may be remedied by adding an impact modifying additive or glass.
As far as recycling companies go, there are a lot and I can't just recommend one. The key will not be so much the recycling company but the source of the material that that company has.
- How consistent is the material type? Is it mixed with other material types, colors or grades (e.g. melt flow).
- How consistently clean is the material? You would be surprised to know that it is very common to find metal and paper in recycled plastics which is a major headache for molders.
As far as a waterproof enclosure goes. You could easily use recycled material in large quantities, no problem. Just don't use recycled seals! :D Hehehe...
I hope this helps! I apologize for the delay in answering. There are very few plastics questions here on Clarity!
Feel free to contact me or schedule a call if you have any more questions and I would be glad to help with material selection!
If this is a physical product that you're talking about, for the prototype, hire a mechanical engineer. I know several which specialize in startups and prototyping.
A quality engineer will not only have experience in the processes your product will need to be prototyped AND mass produced, after you have proved your concept, they will be able to provide you with REAL DFM (Design For Manufacturing), a BOM (Bill of Materials) and a PRD (Product Requirements Document).
In other words, everything you need to contact manufacturers and produce your product. Even if you are planning on licensing your idea or just looking for funding, actually knowing a little about how to make your product will go a long way.
Most mechanical engineers know and can present you to independent electrical engineers and other experts to help bring your idea to life.
This does require an investment but, if you have done your preliminary market research you should have a feel if the benefits are worth the risk.
Before even thinking about a patent, consult an IP lawyer. Just Google some in your area and call for an initial interview. You may be surprised to find that maybe you don't need to worry about a patent right away. I've done some eye opening interviews with IP lawyers on this subject.
Ask them the question, "when am I not ready for a patent?"
Here are a few links to articles I've written on both of these subjects...
I hope these help!
Validating your ideas is an important step in developing products that people want and will pay for.
Before validating a product idea, validate a need for a solution in your niche. Simply set up face to face interviews with people you believe are in need for your idea.
In the first phase of validation, don't talk about your product or present prototypes. I have an article with step-by-step instructions to guide you through the process and even a downloadable pdf with an interview questions template.
Use these answers to adjust you product idea to address the pain points of potential customers.
In phase two, you will present test your prototypes. Here's another step-by-step guide to doing this efficiently and correctly.
These interviews won't cost money but you will have to invest time. Any investment in time will save you 10x time and money in the future of your product.
As stated in all of the other answers here, you need to find the right person to pitch to (duh).
Many companies have divisions setup just to evaluate external product development. Sometimes it's best to go around all of this and find someone in the sales department with the vision to see that your product concept could potentially be a real money maker for the company.
If you haven't read it already, check out "One Simple Idea" by Steven Keys. It's essentially the bible of licensing product ideas. The book is well layed out and can easily be skimmed as a reference without having to read the whole book.
There is a whole chapter dedicated to finding the right person to pitch your idea to. He even includes e-mail and cold calling templates.
I hope this helps!
I wouldn't develop the prototype in China for the very reason that you are worried about IP protection.
Producing products has it's benifits but it isn't always the best option, especially for product development.
I would develop the prototype here in the U.S. While protecting myself with a simple NDA.
Here's a quick article about NDA's and a free NDA template.
Next, I would hire an independent electrical engineer. I know, your probably saying that it's expensive and you're not there, etc. etc.
This will cost less than you think. Hiring an engineer will give you some VERY important things right from the beginning: A BOM (Bill of Material) and DFM (Design for Manufacturing).
A quality engineer will have experience working on projects like yours and will know the components and processes needed to efficiently produce your product. With a BOM you will know EXACTLY what materials and components your project will need and easily know how much they will cost in different quantities. Note: most of these components are produced in China so connecting the dots to a Chinese Manufacturer won't be time consuming also your manufacturer will know where to purchase quality components.
With DFM you have an exact roadmap to mass producing your product. You won't have to take the Chinese manufacturers word for it. You will present them with precise guidelines for production when sending an RFQ request for quote.
Many times your engineer will help build or point you in the right direction about building your prototype.
Even if your not ready to hire an engineer, just going through the interview process of hiring one will tell you a WHOLE LOT about your product idea.
Here's step-by-step guide to hiring design engineers and a free downloadable pdf interview template.
I would also take a look at John Teel's blog for more recommendations.
One other thing to think about is certifications for an electronics product. You will have to test the product for electronic interference, etc. at an approved lab and then apply for the FCC or EU certs.
This is a whole lot easier when your engineer knows local, compentent labs and how the process works.
After going through this process you are ready to move into manufacturing. Having all of your ducks in a row before contacting manufacturers will save a TON of time and money.
As you can see there is a lot to think about before thinking about reaching out to overseas suppliers and manufacturers.
I hope this helps.