ETM Manufacturing Offers Five Questions to Ask Potential Prototyping Partners

In the Race to Market, the Right Prototyping Partner Makes All the Difference

LITTLETON,  Mass. (June 24, 2014) – Shifting market dynamics, constant margin pressure and insatiable consumer demand for new and innovative products are just some of the forces behind what seems to be the constant acceleration of new product introduction. The caveat though is that while first-to-market can be the differentiator between market leader and also-ran,  the product needs to perform as marketed; if not, recovery may cost more than the company can afford. What is the prescription for getting product to market fast and right? A good prototyping partner.

            ETM Manufacturing, one of New England’s most trusted sheet metal fabricators, has seen a significant rise in demand for prototyping and expects the trend to continue, as the stakes for expedient and excellent new product introduction remain high. At last count, the company had launched 1000+ new designs – not variations, but completely different parts – every year for the past seven years.

Based on its experience in helping New England-based original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) navigate the prototyping process, the team at ETM has identified five critical questions that OEMs should ask before engaging in a prototyping project:

  1. What technical strengths does the supplier bring to the process?  Will it enhance your  competitive advantage?
  2. How much capacity do they have to handle your work? More than equipment capacity, you need engineering capacity.
  3. What do you bring to them?  How will your product launch benefit them so you get more than your fair share of their resources?
  4. What do other customers say about how they handle the inherent difficulties in the sheet metal NPI process?
  5. Are you credit worthy and will paying early benefit your product launch? Suppliers want collections to be easy; difficult customers get less attention.

“With so many potential pitfalls in the path between design and delivery, finding the right prototyping partner is becoming a critical differentiator in new product introduction,” said Rob Olney, president of ETM Manufacturing. “At no other time in the supply chain, is trust more important, making a good vetting process paramount to the decision.”

85 Part Numbers, 24 days: A Prototyping Success Story

            Earlier this quarter, the ETM team was presented with a challenge they’d never seen before. A long-time customer in the food service field was getting ready for a major trade show, and need to launch the prototype of a new design. The customer had just over three weeks to produce 450 parts from 85 different part numbers, with little room for delays or errors. Quoting, planning production and building a closed loop feedback process ensured near real-time modification for the job to be done, on-time, on budget and at the level of quality required.

“The extra effort applied to meet our very short deadlines ensured that the show was a success for us,” said the customer’s product manager. “Even under the tightest of turnaround times, the parts and components from ETM fit very well—quality we’ve come to rely on.”


About ETM Manufacturing

For more than 40 years, ETM Manufacturing has been providing custom, precision sheet metal and machined components to some of the best New England-based original equipment manufacturers in computing, energy, telecommunications, medical/lab, printing and other industrial equipment.  ETM offers creative solutions to customer’s complex supply chain issues, helping them save money and reducing time to market. For more information, please visit or call (978) 486-9050.