Before beginning production, a sample should be made to confirm the quality of the manufacturing, flush out potential problems and ensure the factory understands the exact product specifications.
First and foremost, a sample gives a good indication of the quality of the manufacturer’s work. The sample process allows the purchaser to weed out low-quality manufacturers before investing significant time and money in them. A factory unable to produce a quality sample should be immediately dropped.
A sample also ensures the manufacturer understands the purchaser’s exact specifications. Even when a manufacturer and a purchaser feel they have reached an understanding, language, cultural and other differences may hide the fact the two sides actually have very different ideas. A sample significantly decreases the possibility of miscommunication.
The sampling phase often exposes unexpected problems that otherwise might not be noticed until production has started. Even if the manufacturer is 100% certain of the purchaser’s specifications, making a sample can reveal unforeseen difficulties in the manufacturing process.
In the event there are problems with the quality of the order, a sample sets a clear standard of accountability for the factory.
It is therefore critical to have a sample made as precisely as possible to specifications. Even if problems with the sample and changes needed are minor, it is not advisable to simply request the issues be fixed in production. Without another sample which meets all the purchaser’s specifications, there is a greatly increased chance of error, misunderstanding or other problems.
However, it is not always possible to make a sample, and a sample is not a guarantee of the quality of work the manufacturer will perform.
Manufacturers sometimes outsource the making of samples to third parties. Therefore, ask where the sample will be made and take other steps to make sure the manufacturer understands the process.
Also, making an exact sample is not always possible due to the nature of some manufacturing processes (e.g. plastics can only be manufactured in large quantities). Alternatives such as carving a model can sometimes be employed.
Finally, since the exact material that will be used in manufacturing cannot always be purchased in small quantities for samples, alternative materials may sometimes need to be used when making a sample. It is therefore important to specify the exact material to be used in production.
While a good sample will not assure a flawless manufacturing sourcing process, it is a good way to avoid potential problems and set the standard for quality. Therefore, if possible, a sample should be made before an order is placed.