August 11, 2022

Prototyping in China: How To Find a Company & Build a Team

China, just like most other marketplaces, is a huge and diverse assembly of companies. It’s a common misconception that China has become the manufacturing arm of the planet by sheer volume because that’s not even close to the truth. Here we’ll look at the rising demand for prototype manufacturers, why Chinese companies are stepping into that role so successfully, and the benefits for developers in taking projects to China.

As anyone who ever had a great idea can tell you, making it a reality can test the resolve of the strongest among us! Prototyping is one of those fields of human endeavor that doesn’t necessarily reward careful preparation, because everything is new with a prototype, after all.

Why then is prototyping becoming the first port of call for so many developers? Innovation and the succession of goods, from the legacy paradigm to the automated or otherwise digitized future, are driving the current rise in demand for making ideas concrete. The human imagination is expanding as the human species’ technological development grows. It’s a symbiosis.

From a rich corporate indulgence (or a scary expense, depending on whether or not you’re signing off on the financing!), prototyping today has become more of standard business wisdom for developers of any size.

Prototype developers can be well-established companies or green entrepreneurs, but the essential benefits of prototyping are part and parcel of the new model leading to successful manufacturing and sales.

Also Read About: Electronics manufacturers & companies in China

For those who prefer video content, here’s a video summary of what you’re about to read below.


Why is prototyping on the rise?

Far from an indulgence, developing your first prototype allows you to:

  • Save on overall costs. Before incurring expansive, storage, or other costs by jumping the gun, a prototype allows you to focus time and money on a legitimate validation of your core business concept.
  • Building the prototype will also bring resolution to a host of issues most developers worry over; there’s nothing like the clarity gained by building a working model. Project planning improves, and you’ll be able to scale costs with valid business intelligence.
  • It allows you to quickly and inexpensively start to glean marketplace feedback as others work with your design.
  • It defines the visual impact of your marketing.
  • It generates the kind of trust the B2B arena recognizes because you’re putting your money where your mouth is. That’s still really hard to beat for credibility when looking for sales outlets.
  • It elevates stakeholder confidence and commitment. Everyone starts to think about marketing and sales once they look at a proven concept.

Why Chinese concerns are claiming the prototyping arena

Firstly, yes indeed, why China? It’s difficult to depict a proactive economy in words, but the West had one once. Today, both the Eurozone and the United States are shadows of their former dominance, more “ticking over” than leading the world. China’s growing and proactive economy makes anything possible, and there’s a fundamental optimism that stems from leading the way in the field.

That’s the sentiment part of it. There’s also the fact that on-demand prototyping has been massively impacted by the digital age. From having engineers create a physical model of a new product to scale (something laborious and expensive), modern prototyping can lean on better tools. Computer-aided design (CAD) and 3-D printing make for faster turnaround times at far lower costs than the legacy methodology.

Rapidly developing, multifaceted China has more direct legitimacy too. Labor and production costs are lower, quick prototype completions are the norm, and the country has truly global exposure. The simple fact is that no other destination has the ethos and assembled benefits of China, which is why global business often opts to run with Chinese companies, especially when it comes to prototype building.

While it might remain unknown to many in other industries, the electronics industry, as a classic example, is currently growing across the world. This is one happening example of macro drivers that are logically forcing businesses to seek out effective solutions as they innovate and expand. If you offer diverse, quality manufacturing in electronics as China does it’s no wonder Chinese companies will be top of the list to meet industry demands.

Ten years ago, there were initial concerns over IP loss and the faraway nature of China, especially for US companies, but the fundamental truths of business are always apparent. Most obvious for global business is that the expected loss of IP never materialized, and the fact that Chinese prototyping and manufacturing results in a far higher point of departure. 

Put differently, by prototyping in China, you’re far more likely to succeed. The numbers don’t lie. 

What’s essential when prototyping in China?

For those who think China has muscled its way into leading global manufacturing simply by bringing the numbers, any seasoned manufacturer or developer can tell you otherwise. It takes more than a lot of industry to become entrusted with the idea of global entrepreneurs and corporations alike. 

China does a great job of things. That’s for many an obvious statement, but for at least as many others from the legacy arena, it’s hard to imagine. China has always been associated with “cheap” goods, but that perception today is thoroughly naive. Some of the highest-tech goods of American and European companies are made in China. 

These companies have realized that to glean the benefits and avoid the headaches when prototyping and indeed manufacturing in China, they need a local partner. That local partner is operating a business geared towards high prototyping standards and great customer liaison. That’s half the angst eliminated right there.

Such a partner is up to speed with global business and boasts a well-developed, diverse supply chain. Moreover, they’ve correctly interpreted their client’s needs and done all of the dog work to be able to step professionally through an arena like prototyping in China.

It’s no mean feat!

Finding a great supplier in the sea of faces

Prototyping in China works best when you’re partnering with a company that specializes in prototyping. Making up your prototype is different from setting up machines and running off a few thousand items. The manifestation of raw ideation is a task best performed by those who understand its complexities, and have built a supplier solution for every imaginable hiccup.

In the case of MorphoMFG, for example, CEO Josh Fairbairn spent two years visiting factories that would become component suppliers, before being satisfied that he had built a network of manufacturers and suppliers who were all running at the same pace, and with the same quality standards in play.

Also Read About: What is Industrial Internet of Things and its benefits?

Genesis of MorphoMFG

From the genesis of MorphoMFG sprang a China-hybrid company of Mandarin Fluent Westerners and English-savvy local facilitators the best of both worlds!

Having a single appointee on the ground who brings everything together is essential. The best prototyping experience hinges on finding one company that knows the space, and that has the supplier goods and expertise to put your project together as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. 

That’s a common arena for many perhaps, but throw in the fact that it’s all geared towards something completely novel, and a whole new level opens up. Prototypes are taxing and frequently disheartening in construction, no matter how much legacy IP has gone into them. 

The real dynamite prototypers massage those moments to keep spirits high, solutions flowing, and the project on track. That is the dividing line between having a surprisingly pleasant and productive experience and exasperation.

The part they never tell you about…

Sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Just get the design to a company and have them mock up a prototype. Everything’s in China and they no doubt have many other supplier connections, so, what could go wrong? 

Well, the thing that really dominates prototype building, is client service. Its quality, its legitimacy, or its absence. That, and agility. The service you had a better experience, and the agility your prototyper had better manifest.

China has everything, it’s true, but that’s as good as sea shells on a seashore! Someone has to pick them up. Someone has to put it together.

Exemplary service comes in the prototype company smoothing over the inevitable supply. So, build issues encountered with any prototype so that your project stays on time and within budget.

Bringing it back to a budget and a time frame corroborates how essential it is that your nominated prototyper in China has done their homework, made their affiliations, and can assemble the prototype without ghastly gaps or stalling.

In order to capitalize on the labor and component costs being lower than elsewhere, you need to be able to find the best of what you need at arm’s length in China. That’s where your nominated prototyper provides all the value, and the way it works in China runs along a unique architecture too. At MorphoMFG, we call it the Component Control Method.

The right approach for success

What the Component Control Method really is, is the logical extrapolation of all needed inputs for the most successful prototype build. It’s the MorphoMFG methodology, and it’s been years in the making.

What is it, and what does it mean? The Component Control Method means that the prototype principal will have sifted through literally hundreds of local suppliers who provide the fastest turnaround and the best quality and price, on a component basis.

It’s this string of nominated suppliers who will supply the necessary components piece by piece so that the prototype is built in a single location, fed timeously by needed supplies of the right quality and characteristics. 

Building A Prototype

Why split a prototype build into myriad fragments? Because every one of those fragments needs to be perfect if the prototype is to come together as planned. Rather than push a company with a handful of specialty items to assemble a complete prototype, the best prototypes stem from a diverse supply from myriad suppliers, vetted for quality and consistent service. 

The Component Control Method is the strategy MorphoMFG employs to safeguard clients’ IP, as well as step through every one of the inevitable issues prototyping demands, are resolved.

It might seem like an unnecessary complication to the uninitiated, but the method is nothing but a logical prerequisite when drawing on the best inputs from such a massive and still growing region of commerce and industry.

Many foreign companies come into China and find one of these companies, those that are component specialists, and not really prototype builders at heart. This has resulted in a huge amount of confusion, heartache, and no doubt billions of dollars down the drain.

MorphoMFG’s Component Control Methodology shelters clients from the horrors of that learning curve, shields their IP and proof-of-concept because it’s never parceled out wholesale from our premises, and also ensures a quality consistency Iron Man might take for granted in the movies, but which is very hard to nail down in real life.

Prototyping with MorphoMFG ends up cheaper, faster, and with better results. Basically, all of the expected benefits, and none of the risks.

It’s the only way to do prototypes in China!

Also Read About: Morpho MFG customers service lessons for users


What exactly does MorphoMFG do?

MorphoMFG builds prototypes and manufactures goods. The way we do it is by employing the Component Control Method, drawing on dozens of specialist suppliers, but we are the point of call, the responsible party, the company to the client. We safeguard your IP by parceling out component manufacture, and we get it done as quickly and efficiently as possible.

We don’t like to wait either. Any decent accountant would tell you that in comparison to the legacy method of in-house prototyping, MorphoMFG’s approach to prototyping is a smart, cost-effective solution. You throw your prototype project in our lap, and we’ll literally make it take form, start to finish.

OK, but then you’re an agent, right? You’re a middleman. You’re going to cost me more, no?

Nope. We build prototypes! That we present as your “agents on the ground” in China is just the smarts of the Component Control Method. Put simply, we’re a Chinese prototyping company that will build your prototype on our premises. We’ll save you both time and money, and your product will enjoy the greatest possible global exposure.

Is the promise of powerhouse China really true? Can you honestly tell me I’m going to save on costs?

The numbers don’t lie. MorphoMFG can point to literally dozens of projects where developers demonstrably saved money by using our studio workshop. Apples for apples. The reason why we’re not charged millions for a car is that most cars are mass-produced.

If every car was handmade from scratch, it’d cost a fortune! So too by drawing on quality, specialist manufacturers, does MorphoMFG assemble your prototype most cost-effectively?

Moreover, labor costs are already lower than elsewhere. Yes, you’re going to be happy with the costs, especially if you’ve shopped around first.

Do you have binding paperwork around IP? I’m throwing my idea into the vast ocean of China. Frankly, it makes me nervous.

We completely understand your hesitation, because we’ve lived it! More than that, MorphoMFG’s CEO saw his first prototype flop in China! This is Thomas J. Watson’s path of “success lying on the far side of failure.” We are a legitimate, tax-paying business.

Having been there, we absolutely have watertight protection for your IP, and that manifests in our production model too, not just on paper. The quickest way to go out of business as a prototyper is to expose clients’ IP. Not on our watch. We stake our business on it. Please do look at our customer reviews they’re an honest sample of happy people.

What do I need to have on file to get started? Actually, I don’t know if I’m finished designing yet…!

Call us. Mail us. Why? Because there are companies who race ahead in any emerging, specialist field, and we are already an experienced prototyping crew. Having that experience and the expertise, alongside the ability to nonetheless treat every client’s prototype as something brand new, has value.

In conversation with us, you’ll already be able to glean valuable feedback about the design, materials, processes, and final finishes. We’re not a hard sell, we’re a service and a finished product. Chat with us, no strings attached, and we guarantee you’ll gain greater clarity and optimism for the way forward!

About the author

Josh Fairbairn

CEO of MorphoMFG, fluent in Mandarin, Blogger, and Youtuber. Josh loves interesting materials and the craftsmanship that goes into creating innovative products - watches, tech, games, whisky, leather, wood, blockchain & electronics. Josh and his team in Guangzhou, China are striving to create (& consume) the world’s highest quality products. Partnering with entrepreneurs globally to help solve the world's problems - whether small or large.

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