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EXECUTION CADa Dia

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Dianne Cohen

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Sep 7, 2018
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CADa Dia. As in CAD a day, "each day."

CAD, as defined by Wikipedia: "Computer-aided design (CAD) is the use of computer systems to assist in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimization of a design."

This is a mental workout regimen intended to hone my skills in 3D modeling and design. You, the Fastlane Forum members, are the accountability partners - my metaphorical clients for whom I must deliver a product, as promised.

I will grab one item from the house each day and do my best to replicate it in a reasonable amount of time. Levels of complexity (size, shape, etc.) will vary. I may change the item's form, or approximate dimensions to exercise my creative freedom. Accuracy and precision is not the goal. Daily execution, completion and consistency IS. I will provide notes and comments on each work as necessary.

I am open to answer any questions you may have. Feedback is always welcome.

- Marc
Hi Marc, CAD design can be super lucrative when you get fast and niche it correctly.
 

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Marc B.

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Maybe very few guys in this forum are interested in mechanical engineering. Kindly share your experience further. Anyway, I'm feeling grateful that I found this thread.
You're too kind, and I'm surprised you found this thread. What drew you to it? Do you have any questions?

The products and brand still exist, and I work on it every day. Per my last post in this thread, I accepted a 9-5 to relieve some financial burden. That allowed (and still allows) me to parlay earnings from one project into the next without having to cash out--I also supplement the business if needed with income from work, so that plan played out too. I'm certainly feeling the squeeze on my free time, but I'll only elaborate if needed. Work-life balance could be a chapter on its own in one of MJ's books. Full disclosure: imbalance created by dedicating more time and resources to your business help it grow quickly, but there can be a personal opportunity cost. More on that later...maybe.

Meaningful things for readers:
CAD, CAM, and CNC is more trendy today than it was when I started the project. Manufacturing is more accessible than ever with free software like Fusion 360 and affordable, compact machines (lasers, water jets, CNC mills/lathes, sticker plotters). People are creating protrotype labs in their garages. YouTube is flooded with tutorials and folks showing you (for free!) how they built and run their businesses. It's incredible how much lower the barrier to entry is compared to where it was when I started.
 

metallon

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I'm surprised you found this thread. What drew you to it?
I'm a CNC machinist from India and I could relate to how you started out doing a design per day. I followed the same principle while starting out. Learning CAD, CAM and CNC gave me tremendous potential. Thanks to the Internet. I'm building a start-up to bridge small machine shops and global customers. I was looking for people from this industry who shared their experience and I landed on this thread.

Meaningful things for readers:
CAD, CAM, and CNC is more trendy today than it was when I started the project. Manufacturing is more accessible than ever with free software like Fusion 360 and affordable, compact machines (lasers, water jets, CNC mills/lathes, sticker plotters). People are creating protrotype labs in their garages. YouTube is flooded with tutorials and folks showing you (for free!) how they built and run their businesses. It's incredible how much lower the barrier to entry is compared to where it was when I started.
So true. Though my co-workers were hesitant to share their knowledge, I learned mostly online and practicing in the machine shop during night shifts.

Can you share your experience with your manufacturers? What were your pains dealing with them? Did you try overseas manufacturers?

(These questions might sound like I'm trying to pull you as my customer. But I want to understand things from the customers' perspective and build my start-up around that.)
 

Marc B.

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Can you share your experience with your manufacturers? What were your pains dealing with them? Did you try overseas manufacturers?
Sure. It's difficult for me to distill my complete experience into a few sentences, so I'll answer questions as they're asked.

I prefer working with domestic manufacturers whenever possible. The cost is higher, but lead times are shorter, there are no customs charges, material quality is often better, and language barriers are almost nonexistent.

One of my headaches from few years back: Our [outsourced] manufacturer was trying to cut costs by using non-certified metal. For anyone not in the know, different alloys have different material properties that affect qualities like machinability, hardness, strength, and corrosion resistance. "Certified" materials have been vetted by a third party to meet the specifications required by the design. This can be critical to quality and safety as it was for us. When we received our finished goods something didn't feel right, and I mean that literally.

Quick aside: This is why it's important to put your hands on product and familiarize yourself with what you're making. I'm not a fan of drop-shipping for this reason. Nobody should know more about your product than you (just my opinion).


We requested copies of the material certification, which we later found out were forged-- multiple destructive tests proved that the parts were not meeting spec. I've never had any trouble with forgery when working with domestic manufacturers. I assume there's more fear of legal consequences here. We immediately fired the manufacturer, and this put a bad taste in our mouths for outsourcing. Before that, a few little goofs slipped through the cracks. Poor packaging, QC forgotten...just a lot of cut corners that I let slide, which resulted in lost/damaged product that could never be sold. I ate those costs and learned lessons. Looking back, I think it was due to a management change and the company is no longer in business. No surprise.

I'll caution anyone not to make generalizations or reject the idea of outsourcing based on the experience above. Regardless who performs the work, be clear about what you're expecting from your manufacturers. Ask for samples before you commit to a production order. Short runs of prototypes are more expensive but worth it. Understand their capabilities. What machines do they have? What finishing services are available? What is done in-house, and what do they outsource? What does their quality control process look like? What tolerances can they reliably hold? Check quality frequently and communicate with your manufacturer ASAP if something is wrong. Most are willing to make it right for customers that provide them consistent business.
 

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