5 Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Product Designer or 3D CAD Freelancer.

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So you want to hire a product designer or 3D CAD freelancer to develop your new product idea, easy right? Just search for someone online with an affordable rate, explain what you want and voila! you’re off to make your millions. Nice vision, but it’s not that simple. Even with the multitude of freelancer websites, pirated copies of CAD software connected to 3D printers on every desktop from here to east Asia, a market saturated with engineering post grads all combined with nearly zero liability financing options via portals like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, it’s still not that easy. Since you’re looking at freelancers online then it might be safe to assume that you’re working with a limited budget otherwise you might be seeking a legitimate product design firm closer to home.

The internet has created a global workplace and opened the services industry to cheap labor but it’s still mission critical for a budget minded entrepreneur to choose freelancers wisely even if many of them are now cheap enough that you can hire several before reaching any kind of meaningful milestone. But why go through the pain of having to hire a product designer several times at rates of $15 to $20/hr due to non-performance when there’s experienced talent priced in at just under $50 or $60? A career professional WILL SAVE YOU MONEY and guarantee a quality deliverable without dragging the process and schedule out with endless revisions. So how do you spot the real value in this growing online digital heap of self titled “freelancers” and “product designers?

Ask the following 5 questions before you hire a Product Designer or 3D CAD Freelancer, in order assess whether that freelancer being evaluated is the best fit to meet or exceed your specific goals and expectations:

1. Is the candidate a legitimate product designer / 3D CAD freelancer and what is their area of specialty? Historically, the title “freelancer” had a qualitative meaning which implied the person had considerable and practical knowledge within their field. Most engineering and technical freelancers working in product design came from company backgrounds, had real world experience and understood the complexities of several process areas in development and manufacturing. The freelancer of today could be little more than someone with a spotty internet connection, a pirated copy of Solidworks or Pro Engineer and three hours of YouTube tutorial. In many cases, freelancers claim to be experts in product design when in reality they have degrees as architectural or civil engineers and have no experience with injection molded parts design and assemblies for example.

2. Is the candidate Full or Part Time? Many of the self-titled freelancers now might be just out of school or worse, still in school. Many are brand new on the job but wanting to escape the 9 to 5 or are looking for some “extra cash” while some are just plain “weekend warriors”, “hobbyists” or “enthusiasts”. If there’s any desired level of professionalism or a schedule requirement for your project then consider working with a legitimate full time freelancer that’s been in it for some time.

3. Does the candidate have actual products in the market? The best way to assess skill is by evaluating finished works. If you hire a product designer who has a gallery comprised mostly of non-photographed or 3D CAD rendered examples that clearly came from the back of a Solidworks training manual then don’t expect good results. It’s likely that this person has little or no real world experience developing actual consumer products.

4. Does the candidate have team capability? Many of the new consumer products require more than simple 3D / 2D CAD. Industrial Design, Mechanical Engineering, Electronics and printed circuit board design along with firmware, software and mobile apps are becoming increasingly prevalent. The main problem here is that clients often attempt to cobble together loosely knit and ultimately incompatible teams for the development of these system level products. Ask if your freelancer has experience working with a team or better yet, has team capability already to go.

5. Will the candidate implement quality prototyping and production? Product backers or investors aren’t overly impressed by low quality 3D printed prototypes, THEY WANT THE REAL THING. It’s important to design your product for the manufacturing processes that are going to be used to mass produce it, so what’s the point in having to dumb down a design with a 3D printed version of the product when you can have production quality in hand just as fast and for a similar price? Ask your freelancer if they can suggest the best strategy for prototyping and production that fits your short and long term objectives.

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