Determining the cost of building a prototype?

Hi there, I am inexperienced in engineering and building things in general, but I am trying to start a tech company anyway. I am currently in the process of determining the budget cost of building a prototype for various designs of ideas. So I am wondering if you can tell me how much commonly used tools and materials of a DIY mechanical/electrical engineering project might cost. If you don't know because estimates can vary, then tell me from your personal experience how much your list of tools and materials costed you on various projects that you've done. Thank you!

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iceng28 days ago

Approach it from the labor standing point..

Say you need two sample models 3 weeks separated in three months... A Pert chart will point out how many people are needed to design build and test each part/ task you have already identified..

When you find the labor cost prohibitive then spread out the time and use less intensive labor cost, less chaos and waste.. Maybe, five or six months allows time to schedule and rent expensive machines you don't want to buy...

Anyway take your median Pert labor cost and multiply it by 2.5 to 3 for a total project estimate...

This is only true If you are smart enough to avoid hiring en egocentric driven manager whose ego would fill a baseball field and ruin your company with a god complex attitude..

DIYDun (author)  iceng27 days ago

Ok, good point. I'll add that to the total costs as well.

ilpug29 days ago

Without any actual specifics of the processes and materials need to make your prototype it's practically impossible to give you a number. A "DIY mechanical/electrical engineering project" could be as simple as a little blinky light made with Harbor Freight components to a fully autonomous drone with freakin' lasers on it. I understand that you may not want to share specifics in order to protect IP, but some kind of data is needed.

DIYDun (author)  ilpug29 days ago
Thanks for your suggestion. Yes, sharing the IP is a problem, but not just that... I have several blueprints, and we haven't finalized it. However, I am somewhat short on time, as the boss of the project wants me to get the material budget in 2 week's time although the blueprints aren't finalized. So I'd have to go with a rough estimation in such case.

One blueprint is like a cell phone. So how much does it take to build a cellphone from scratch, including the tools needed?

The other is like a lamp made of mostly plastic parts. So how much would that take?

I'm trying to figure it out, but kind of lost at the moment.
ilpug DIYDun29 days ago

Building a cellphone from scratch is potentially very expensive, even assuming the most complicated components such as the processors, circuitry, camera, screen, antennas, and sensors were all made by an outside company to your specifications. Even assembling a modern cellphone prototype in a way to ensure that it passes inspections involves very sophisticated machinery like pick and place machines, board testers, etc. Add on to that the cost of labor and engineering costs and you're looking at an astronomical number assuming you don't already have the machinery. Refer to company documentation for past projects, assuming any exists.

Frankly, if your boss is asking you to get a materials cost estimate on a phone in two weeks and gave you nothing more than a few drawings to work from then either you have an incredible, untested reputation for achieving the impossible, or your boss is entirely incompetent. Or some other things.

For a plastic lamp. I would 3D print the prototypes if possible. You can pay a service to do it for you if you don't have the equipment in house. They charge by volume, look into your CAD files and you may be able to find a volume for your parts. Then, look up the fasteners and electrical components on sites like MSC or McMaster Carr. Find the most similar components to the ones specified in the drawings and use those costs. Include Shipping!

+1 Agreed! You can't expect any kind of reasonable answer with a complete lack of specifics.

Are we talking electronics, metals, plastics, wood, carbon fibre, fibreglass?

CNC, lathe, mill, laser cutter, 3d printer, hand tools?

Too many variables, we need more.

Yonatan241 month ago

You posted this twice: https://www.instructables.com/community/Cost-of-co...

A prototype of what for what?