You are an entrepreneur, an inventor, a doer, a maker of things. If you are making something out of plastic it is likely that you will have to invest in tooling at some point. The timing of this investment may very well determine if you ultimately succeed or fail. In the past when I have developed a plastic product the one area that I have always invested in early is injection mold tooling, both low-volume and high-volume.
Don’t mess about, invest quicker in low-volume or high-volume production tooling, you have to spend the dollars eventually anyway, so spend early to impress investors. Who are the investors you are impressing? Every project is different but I like to think of investors in 3 main categories.
First, investors who are potential partners in your venture, capital injectors who may just be won over by your ability to sell them on real products and not just prototypes. Your prior investment in tooling tells them that you are serious and can fulfil sales goals fast which means they can get a faster ROI.
Second, retail and distribution investors (buyers). This investor invests in your project by giving you orders. You might be able to land an order without production tooling, but don’t count on it. Also, buyers change all the time, as such your window of opportunity is short with them. When buyers know you have production tooling (low-volume or high-volume) they are more likely to bet on you.
Third, your end-user customer is your biggest investor for the longevity of your project. Without them believing in the quality of your product you won’t get very far. Being able to deliver them production quality products as early as possible will give your product the chance it needs to survive in a highly competitive marketplace.
A simpler way of looking at it is, you have to spend the money on tooling anyway to succeed, so spend it earlier to give all investor groups the confidence to invest in your product and more importantly, to invest in you.
TIP: Remember that low-volume tooling can be tooling that produces parts up to about 100,000 pieces. Talk to your tooling supplier and find the right balance between low-volume tooling cost and tooling part run capacity. There should be a good solution that can be tailored to your project and budget needs.