Product Development

What to expect – steps, costs, time lines

The following outlines the typical phases of product development including steps, costs, and timelines.  The purpose of this document is to prepare new or potential MicroTools’ customers with a high-level view of how an idea becomes a professionally manufactured product.

While the costs will vary based on project-specific needs, the ranges listed should provide a guideline to the order of magnitude development costs.  Note that not all product aspects shown are needed for all projects.


  • Who we are, what we do, how can we help you with your project

Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)

  • Protects your ideas before sharing them with us
  • MicroTools has an NDA or we can use one of yours

Initial product meeting

  • General scope of your project, your goals, and your product time frames
  • Definitions of the general product requirements
  • Explanation of the MicroTools’ Agile Methodology
  • Presentation of topics included in this document
  • Mutual Product Development Agreement
  • Planning of next steps

Kick-off meeting

  • Changes to overall project budget or timeline
  • Discussion of resources and working locations (at MicroTools or onsite)
  • Review the proposal
  • Review payment plans and invoicing
  • Mutual Product Development Agreement
  • Plan for initial iteration of development

Product Conceptual Design ($20k – $50k, 2-4wks)

  • Produce industrial design concepts (drawing / sketches)
  • Create user story boards
  • Create user experience profiles
  • Market placement / competition analysis

Software/Firmware development iterations ($7.5k/wk for developer & tester, up to $20k – $500k, 3-50wks)

  • Prioritize a list of features you want for this product
  • Group the top features for this iteration’s release
  • Define timeframe
  • Development, testing, documentation, release
  • Customer feedback, refinements
  • Repeat as needed to add desired complexity and features

Circuit board build iterations ($6k/wk for designer, up to $10k – $100k, 2-16wks)

  • Part / component selection
  • Design schematics
  • Design review
  • Board layout ($1k – $4k)
  • Build x boards ($1k – $4k, 1-6wks)
  • Check-out / Test boards
  • Make board modifications and/or update schematics or layout
  • Repeat as needed (at least 2 board iterations are typical)

Mobile App Development  ($20k – $300k, 3-50wks)

  • Design screens, GUI, look-and-feel
  • Determine supported platforms (i.e. iOS, Android)
  • Specify features and functionality
  • Present mock-up screens for review
  • Development, testing, release


  • Internet access fees (e.g. cellular data plans, $1-2/month per device)
  • Provisioning / Setup device accounts with network carrier

Hosted server (Internet Cloud server)

  • Server-side software development ($9k/wk per developer & tester, up to $50k – $500k, 3-50wks))
    • Back-end database
    • Front-end web browser access
    • Interfacing with other packages
  • Server hosting with maintenance (recurring monthly charges, $500 – $1000)


  • Industrial designs (e.g. concept drawings) ($20k – $50k)
  • Product prototype model (3D printing)  ($5k – $20k)
  • Iterative process
  • Low –volume injection prototype “soft” mold  ($5k – $20k)
  • Production-volume injection mold  ($50k – $100k)
  • Production part costs
  • Wiring / cables / external connections


  • Safety (UL) ($20k – $50k)
  • RF (FCC) ($5k – $20k)
  • Cell carrier  ($1k – $50k)
  • Medical (i.e. FDA) ($50k – $250k)
  • Make necessary board/software changes per testing results

Final Testing

  • Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V)  ($10k – $250k, 4-12wks)


  • Device assembly (contract manufacturer)
  • Board-level tests (software)
  • Test harnesses / fixtures (hardware)
  • System level testing

Future Phases/Efforts

  • Hardware cost reduction
  • Hardware component replacement (end-of-life)
  • New technologies
  • New product features
  • Spin-off products

NOTE: all costs typically double for Medical Devices due to regulatory specifications and documentation.