How do you go about getting an electronic product manufactured in China? What steps are involved?
The single most important step you need to take to design a product that can actually be manufactured in China is : buy a ticket to Shenzhen.
Many people nowadays think that they should 1) imagine a great product 2) design an awesome game-changing prototype in their local fablab or techshop 3) go on Kickstarter and raise money 4) go to China and get it produced. This is wrong and it won ‘t work for many reasons, main one being that you need to understand how China works first. Even if you reach step 3 and have lots of money, you will keep pushing back the delivery because you still have to build your supply chain. You may end up paying some expensive guys to source people in China for you. The end of this is that you will run out of cash before you have even manufactured the first unit.
What you should do is 1) build a cool prototype 2) go to China and learn about the reality of manufacturing by yourself 3) design a product according to this reality 4) run on Kickstarter and ship something that actually exists. The first day you will put a feet in China you will find out that all what you thought about the ways should be doing things were wrong. Then you will keep learning more every day than you ever learnt before : process, prices, sourcing, emerging markets, raw materials, lean design, certifications, export regulations, etc. Even if you are a very poor designer, knowing all this will give you a ridiculously high competitive advantage in your own country. And if you are good, you could just try to become the new Apple :)
Good luck !
This text was originally published in quora.