When considering the production of a new product in China, it’s important to plan 9 to 12 months in advance. Whether it’s apparel or electronics, manufacturing a product internationally is an extensive process, and it will take some time before you’re holding the finished version in your hands. While the first (and perhaps most important) step in manufacturing a product is having a great idea, that idea will never become anything without a plan. We’ve created this basic timeline to give you a step-by-step understanding of the manufacturing process and set you up for success.

It is important to remember that this timeline will be faster or slower depending on your specific production cycle. A product that has never been manufactured before will take more longer than an established brand. Also keep in mind that design and sample revisions will make your production cycle longer.

Step 1: Design
5 to 45 Days
  • Submit Intake Docs
  • Tech Pack Development
    • Spec Sheet / CAD Drawings
    • Approve Bill of Materials
    • Tech Pack edits before production, if necessary

The first step in turning an idea into a product is creating the design. For the purpose of manufacturing, this design needs to be fully fleshed out (think of a blueprint, not a doodle on a napkin). This blueprint is called a tech pack. Tech packs exist to create clear communication between you and the manufacturer, ensuring that the final product meets your expectations.

Creating a tech pack is an extremely important and meticulous part of the process that should not be rushed. The more details and specifications you provide, the more likely you’ll be satisfied with the product. Depending on how complicated your product is and where you are in the development process, this step could take as long as 5 to 45 days.

Turning your idea into a tech pack can be intimidating, but Blacksmith is here to help. Download our free guide 4 Steps To The Perfect Tech Pack for a step-by-step walk through of the process. We’ve even included a template to get you started!

Step 2: Sourcing
10 to 30 Days
  • Provide desired order quantities, target unit price, and reference samples/prototypes
  • Review order quote and production timeline
  • Approve sampling costs

Once the design has been finalized, we can move on to the sourcing process. During the sourcing process, we will quote multiple factories and suppliers for your project. It may take as long as 10 to 30 days to finalize these decisions. At this point in time, you will also have a better understanding of how much your project will cost.  Rest assured that we are committed to working with factories that adhere to strict safety and ethical standards and sourcing only high-quality materials.

Sourcing can be daunting, but Blacksmith has the necessary experience to help you through every step of this process. We are dedicated to finding a factory and supplier perfect for you, your product, and your budget.

Step 3: Sampling/Prototyping
15 to 60 Days
  • Begin sample production
  • Create Mold (if needed)
  • Review and test sample
  • Make tech pack adjustments
  • Re-sample if needed
  • Approve sample

Before starting a full production run, it’s important to have a sample product/prototype manufactured and shipped to you, to ensure that you’ll be satisfied with the quality and workmanship. The time frame for this step can vary significantly depending on the complexity of your product and if you need to sample more than once. Most clients can expect 15 to 30 days. However, if your product requires a mold, then it could longer than 60 days to create the mold and sample.

This is an exciting part of the process—you will finally get to hold a manufactured version of your product in your hands. However, it is important to keep in mind that your first sample/prototype may not be the last, and that a sample may still differ slightly from your finished product due to material availability and changes with machinery and processes between the sample room and bulk production.

Step 4: Production
30 to 90 Days
  • Submit Purchase Order (Begin production AFTER PO deposit is paid)
  • Material production & delivery to factory
  • Arrange Pre-Production Sample (PPS)
  • Review, Test, and Approve PPS
  • Bulk Production
  • Review TOP samples
  • Arrange Freight Forwarder
  • Approve freight and duties estimates
  • Quality Control (Schedule, receive report, re-work / re-inspect if needed)
  • Pay PO final balance BEFORE product leaves factory

When you’re ready to place the order, the production process can finally begin. The first step is approving the Pre-Production Sample (PPS) – your perfect product unit made from the bulk production materials. Once approved, bulk production can begin, followed by a review of units pulled from the top of the production line (TOPS). Again, the expected time frame with this step will vary based on the size of your order, complexity of your product, weather, and the holiday season. On average, production time is estimated to take 30 to 90 days.

Unlike other sourcing companies, Blacksmith provides quality control during the entire production process. Blacksmith has a highly qualified team based in China whose sole purpose is to verify the quality of your products before they’re shipped to you.

Step 5: Shipping
10 to 30 Days
  • Exit Factory date (after final QC inspection)
  • Freight shipped to port
  • Freight collected by freight forwarder
  • Depart from port (AIR or SEA)
  • Arrive at US port – Customs Inspection
  • Ship to delivery location­

Once production and the quality control inspection are complete, the only step left is getting your product from the factory into your hands. While shipping overseas can be time and cost intensive, we can help you arrange freight forwarding so that you receive your product in a timely manner. Keep in mind that you have a choice between air or sea shipping, which vary in cost and delivery time. Depending on your decision, it will only be another 10 to 35 days before you finally hold the finished product in your hands.