Prototyping electronics involves multiple facets, including design, manufacturing, packaging, certification, and shipping. A modern day electronics product involved hardware, software, cloud storage, web page, database hosting, and mobile APP. There is really no Hardware or Software companies anymore. All products involve both hardware and software, and the sales and marketing involves both online sales and off line sales.
Without online sales, people would not be able to find you and validate your legitimacy. Even if someone find you off line, they still would likely check online review. Likewise, there is no pure "online" store - an online store alone can never generate enough sales. The brands and sales must be made by offline traditional methods.
For a hardware piece, the device typically involves:
- mechanical parts and packaging
- electronics and circuit boards;
- software and UI design (based on MCU or CPU);
- battery and power management;
- communication such as WiFi and Bluetooth.
Mechanical parts and packaging can be made by molding and 3D printing. The 3D printing method can generate a prototype, but the material cost is high and it does not last very long. Molding design is a complicated balance of aesthetics, cost, material, finish, and mold extraction techniques. Typically a mold part costs $100,000 to design and prototype. If the cost for molding is too low, consumer won't like the finish and quality, and your product won't stand out.
Fancy design house: $6000, 3 month
Economic design house: $1000, 1 week
Mold making and research:
Large part: $120,000
Small part: $60,000
Mold making cost = design labor + research labor + raw materials.
Mechanical CAD drawing involving multiple parts.
Large 3D printed parts. Cost = $200
Making copper EDM (Electron Discharge Machining) parts that will be assembled into mold.