Eventually, you will place an order for goods from a manufacturer by issuing a Purchase Order. A purchase order is an official written order issued by a buyer (you) to a seller (manufacturer) for goods. The purchase order will specify the quantity you are ordering, the price you are paying, and what – aka the goods – you are ordering. The goods are defined in the purchase order by referring to an approved prototype. A prototype, often called the golden sample, is a physical replica of the thing which it is you seek to order from the manufacturer. A prototype ensures that you and the manufacturer are exactly on the same page as to what is being ordered. A prototype, unlike written words, leaves very little room for misinterpretation.

So, in order to get manufacturer pricing, or to eventually place an order for your product, you will need a physical prototype of your product. Often, you’ll approach your manufacturer with both a physical prototype AND relevant instructions, patterns, or engineering documentation. These next posts are about how you go about translating an idea into a physical prototype and any necessary written instructions.