7 Tips to Start Small Scale Manufacturing | Business Ideas for Product Makers

do we know how we’re starting this one? not at all! Hey guys we’re Evan and Katelyn today we’re
gonna be talking about how to start a small scale business based around products that
are designed for small scale manufacturing did I say the things I think you said the
things there were a lot of words in that sentence basically this means starting small without
the risk of a big financial investment but at the same time being ready to scale up big
if the opportunity presents itself and how to scale your business beyond what you can
produce in your own shop we’ve made a video on how to sell handmade products which we’re
gonna link below but I feel like this is a big topic that we didn’t really cover in that
last video so we kinda wanna do a little bit more of a deep dive into that here and we
do’t just wanna go through saying general tips so we’re gonna include some of our personal
experiences and walk through how we apply these tips to one of our own products and
the first thing that we’re gonna talk about is kind of this new startup type company that
seems to be developing I feel like it needs a theme song new startup company that seems
to be developing it seems like in the past if you were gonna start a business you kinda
fell into one of two categories you were a big company making big products and that requires
a lot of money or you were kind of on the smaller side you were making handmade things
and you kind of stay a little bit of a smaller company now there seems to be sort of a middle
path developing as small scale manufacturing is becoming more accessible to more people
another thing that really opens up product design to a whole bunch of new people are
digital design tools there are great tutorials out there it’s really accessible some of them
are free or cheap designing things in 3D is a lot cheaper when you don’t actually have
to spend any money at all yeah it is free the cheapest of cheap haha so with less capital
needed there’s less pressure to hit that homerun with your very first product idea you can
test it out in the market see if people buy it see if they don’t you can do iterations
and there’s not that huge loss if you invest a ton of money in machines or casting and
the product doesn’t work and then you’re left with all that capital wasted we went through
a whole bunch of product ideas before figuring out what we wanted to make our very first
idea was terrible it was good it was good it’s a good thing just the idea of trying
to make it at any sort of scale was terrible yeah it was our marquee letters they’re really
pretty people love them people wanted them we got inquiries a lot about renting or borrowing
or buying them but they’re massive and delicate and they would not ship well and they take
a really long time to make but that was ok it didn’t hurt us we kept going and kept moving
and kept trying out other types of products we started on our computers in our garage
we came up with what we thought was yes same garage we are in now we came up with what
we thought would be a good design and we invested in one 3D printer once that printer had paid
for itself and we had enough orders to start getting more things and start expanding our
product line we got we’re up to 4 3D printers and 2 CNCs so you can start with just that
one small investment you don’t have to buy your entire robot army all at once although
it is cool having a robot army and you can grow from there yeah so I’ve worked in traditional
manufacturing before as an engineer and product designer and these big machines that companies
have to make their parts are really impressive but along with those impressive capabilities
comes this huge price tag and ever since we’ve been working on products at home I honestly
haven’t really missed those you can accomplish so much now with a small shop with limited
budgets we recommend starting with just the design of what you wanna make before you ever
start making cuts you can do that free design software we use Fusion 360 and once you have
that design ready you can make it yourself for not that much expense you can go to a
local makerspace and if you don’t have a local makerspace nearby there is the internet and
on the internet there are people who want to make money with machines who will help
you out who will help you out yeah once you have that proof of concept with your product
if you wanna start making it in house you can setup a whole little shop for yourself
like we’ve done here you can have your CNC, 3D printer, power tools, hand tools whatever
it is you need it seems expensive if you’re looking at the prices now but if you compare
it what you’re pulling in with your products it’s a reasonable business cost and I think
that’s really cool that it’s actually within reach now and I love that like if I come up
with an idea I can just come out here and realize it using stuff that we have at home
it’s like Evan’s dream ever since we started buying tools it’s literally my dream I’ve
been dreaming of this since I was a little kid I love it and these machines are a lot
more affordable now the cost of 3D printers and CNCs over the past few years has gone
down so much and there’s even payment plans now where you can pay you know per month and
it’s a lot easier to tackle as you’re making profits instead of a big upfront cost you
know if you’re trying to run a business so I think that’s super awesome and hopefully
by the time that you buy the CNC you have products designed you’re selling some and
you can use that profit from those sales to pay for the machines that are making the money
yes yeah so to give you guys a real world example we’re
gonna use this CNC ring dish that we designed we did all of the design work in CAD then
we did all of the computer aided manufacturing work to plan out how long it would take how
much material it’d use so we knew all of the variables of this product before we spent
any money at all and we have a whole video on that which is that process is called CAM
on our channel so we’ll link to that too but after we did all of that digital design work
it was time to test the program and figure out all of the bugs and kinks so we ran it
on our X-Carve right over there and went through 4 iterations of the design of the g-code and
that took the machining time from 30 minutes to about 15 minutes and we probably could
push it further and having all of that figured out at the small scale really helps you grow
and scale it if your product succeeds and starts going and selling really big. these smell good they smell real good haha
do they smell like pecan cuz these are pecan just just like insert like 30 seconds of Katelyn
sniffing it right now hahaha so now that everything with this design is figured out if we need
to hire help to make more of these or outsource this outside of our shop we can do that because
we know that this design works and we’ve optimized it so we’ve talked a lot about manufacturing
it but it is very important good product design I think is the key to selling things because
without the thing you can’t sell it man that’s some wise words right there anyways while
we’re designing things we try to keep two things in mind the function and the manufacturability
so we often design things with small scale manufacturing in mind if it’s something that
we want to become a product so for us that means CNC work it means 3D printing or sometimes
it’s molding and casting each of these works with some types of designs and not other types
of designs and you want your design to work with manufacturing method and not against
it there was once a product I was designing and I happened to add a curve to it I don’t
actually know why probably trying to be fancy I might have been trying to be fancy but I
was talking with a machinist later that day he was looking at it like this is gonna be
really hard and I was like no it should be really simple he’s like well this curve right
there that’s gonna like make it take a long time like oh just take out the curve that
doesn’t need to be there at all he’s like oh we can get that done real quick and it
probably saved us it cut the time down by 1/5th so keeping that manufacturability in
mind is really important for scaling and growth and your profit margins for example with these
ring dishes if you look close there’s kind of a spiral design and it looks kinda cool
that’s actually the cut lines from the bit it’s something that in a lot of designs you
might have to sand out because it wouldn’t look very nice but we came up with a design
where it actually kind of becomes a feature and it means less work for us another thing
is when we’re 3D printing we try to keep those layer minds in mind layer minds did I say
layer minds yes we try to keep the layer lines that are part of the 3D printing process in
mind and maybe even make them a feature we came up with a topographical Texas where each
layer was like a layer of the topography a layer of the topography so it was better that
it was 3D printed instead of worse or when we’re doing molding and casting we try to
keep it like a one part mold so we don’t have to sand down the seam line this is kind of
tied to it but we try to keep human intervention down as much as possible so avoiding things
that have to be hand painted or hand stitched or hand anything really I mean we still do
put a little bit of work into it but we try to minimize it so going back to this for example
we have this bottom rounded over and that’s because we can take this over to the router
table it’s a way to remove tabs it polishes up it makes it look finished and it’s all
part of optimizing our process tied to keeping human time down we try to keep robot time
as high as possible so that while they’re working we can work on prepping stock setting
up jigs coming up with new designs working with cusomwers 🙂 coming up with marketing
material there’s so much that you can do to help your business besides making things like
come up design things in your mind and let robots make them that’s what I like you sound
like an evil genius but yes another thing to keep in mind is cost wise it’s gonna be
hard to beat a big company that has huge econ- econ- economies of scale it’s just it’s a
losing game but there are other things that you can do that big companies can’t do one
of those is customizable products or coming up with products that respond to trends or
seasons you can be a lot more flexible than a big company can be another way to set yourself
apart from big companies is customizing we started I kinda said that but you can go into
the details haha we’ve started engraving initials and dates on to the back of our ring dishes
for weddings and stuff like that yeah it takes what literally 2 minutes actually 1 minute
and it makes it so much more special and more meaningful to the people you’re selling it
to and it’s something that big companies can’t do yeah as easily I mean well yeah they probably
can but they wouldn’t bother yeah haha alright so what’s next let’s say you have a product
it’s selling really well and you can’t keep up with the demand ahhhh oh you want me to
finish that yeah I thought I was the example we haven’t had one of our products go big
like that yet but I have had a lot of experience dealing with this in my past job when you’re
selling volumes that large you can start with with local companies or overseas partners
to increase the amount of products you can produce if you come to them with a proven
sales record a projection for how much products you’re gonna make they’re gonna say yeah we
wanna do that they’ll work with you they’ll bring down their price and they’ll make it
more accessible they don’t like people coming to them saying I have an idea well no it’d
be like I have an idea it doesn’t exist yet but it’s gonna be great they’re not gonna
be interested and that’s where everything that we’ve been talking about the well designed
product with a proven track record that is able to be scaled that’s potentially based
in digital means so you can just send them a file and they can make the same thing that
you’ve been making the whole time you can have your standards in place you can have
a quality policy and you can grow without really too much downsides you can also take
it a step further and even outsource some of the fulfillment so you can work with your
manufacturing partner, your packaging suppliers and have all of them send everything to a
fulfillment center and they ship it out for you and that allows you to spend more time
working on your next product your next design and just continuing to grow which takes us
to our outro yay I really hope that this video was useful to you guys and helped give you
guys some confidence to start your own business it’s a little bit scary I think the thing
that we struggled with the most is when to start and how to start and I think the tipping
point for us was when we were more afraid not to do it than we were afraid to do it
and then we made the jump and then we made the jump and started doing it and that’s the
end of our story haha good story actually that was just the beginning and then we started
doing YouTube yeah haha but we still do products on the side still doing it on the side it’s
fun to keep a finger in that world a little bit where is it alright if you guys have any
questions we’d love to chat with you guys in the comments below and if you wanna help
us make more videos you can support us by checking out our awesome merch which is at
Shop Evan and Katelyn dot com and if you want more content sneak peeks behind the scenes
the aftershow we’re about to record the aftershow you can head over you can head over to patreon
dot com slash evan and katelyn and see you that there hope to see you next time bye did
you say see you that there I dunno hahaha words are hard and today we’re gonna- bleh
opport- mlehele still had done all this reshearch reshearch reshearch another thing about sca-
scall you can stay even keeper keep hahaha woo yay!

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24 thoughts on “7 Tips to Start Small Scale Manufacturing | Business Ideas for Product Makers

  1. We wanted to tell the story of how we started selling products in more detail, and why we eventually stopped (AKA… going full time on YouTube) but didn't have the right place to tell the story till we started a podcast! Get the full scoop in episode 009, available on your favorite podcast app or: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsVBPraUOFE

  2. ever seen that tv show where (chineese) manufacturers made products slightly different to get out from under the patent and brought the original inventors to bankrupty by selling the product cheaper then they could
    remember some stretching gardenhose , a grip all nuts and bolts type tool , the goped with the small rollerblade wheels and a roller pull along type suitcase

  3. I will probably never become sure if I just watched a movie, or a youtube video on product design and manufacturing process, both are Tom Cruise and Moira Kelly material….

  4. Hey guys. As a manufacturing/production engineer who has come a long way in starting my own manufacturing business, I must say that your video is spot-on. Great work!!! Especially the part about designing for manufacturability is extremely pertinent.

  5. You guys are so adorable … the spark in the eyes are so genuine …. wow keep marching … I'm of track but still I wanted to say it. …

  6. Excellent break down on how to get started! I love making crafts, never thought about a "robot army" lol I finally have the workspace to expand and build now thanks for the ideas!

  7. 👋 thank you so much for your video about carpenter craft very 👌 beautiful items you have made it by using machine fine finishing and small businesses can developed.

  8. U guys look awesome!! How's u guys meet? In a course? Or university? Or childhood friends? Jealous of u guys. Hahahahaha

  9. Thank you for this, but I still need help! I am looking everywhere for a manufacturer who can simply precut steel wires or thin metal bars that are a consistent size/shape. It sounds so obvious and simple but everywhere I look, there are 3d models, or cnc or laser engravings/cutting which are tools I already have. Just can't find anyone making something like wire parts that would allow me to finish some dimensional sculptures. Cutting them and looping or twisting them myself is so time consuming. ANY advice out there?!

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