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Finding Skilled Labor for Making Hardware Prototypes

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Chibbs

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Does anyone have experience finding someone to machine, weld, etc. for making physical prototypes?

I'm currently looking for an experienced machinist who can help me makes some cuts for a prototype I am working on. My product is a piece of exercise equipment that I am hoping to make in a more portable and cheaper fashion than what is currently available on the market. I have already had some success with some very basic product but this one require much more precise tolerances and for difficult patterns. I really need someone that can help with how to machine the desired pattern, etc.

My game plan for this is to make some prototypes in the US and then have the product components manufactured in China (open to other countries), as it's made mostly of steel. The margins on this product are significant but it is much more complicated than any of the previous projects I've worked on.

What do you guys typically do when searching for people with these special skills? If it were digital I would look for someone on fiverr, etc but since I need to have the part physically machined, that won't work. Any advice would be appreciated!
 

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Walter Hay

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I would contact a small (ish) engineeriing workshop.

Don't ignore the possibility that they might even be suitable to manufacture larger quantities for you.

Walter
 
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Lsm87

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Does anyone have experience finding someone to machine, weld, etc. for making physical prototypes?
Engineer here with some experience in this field - it really depends on the design of your product parts! What method do you need?

CNC milling? Do you have the 3D files already (like *.DXF)? Have you simulated the CNC milling process with software like RhinoCAM or Fusion360 to see if it is feasible? Because waisting a big block of steel is very expensive.

How complex is your part? Milling something directly from steel is still very expensive. Can you modifiy your parts so they can be made with other manufacturing methods, like laser cutting etc? Or why make it from steel? Why not aluminium or even plastics? Why does it have to be so rugged?

Ask local CNC milling workshops or metal workshop, if they can help you. When they have some free slots in their calender, they are happy to fulfill your request, IF you prepared all necessary files and specifications (maybe also bring your own material) - but imho if you were already at this step, you would not ask such questions, because I think you would already figured out what to do by yourself.

Have you tried 3D printing your part already? Much cheaper and PLA can also be very strong (at least for prototyping purposes). Then you can print it at a 3D printing hub in your area.

And if you plan to scale it, it would be better to cast the parts - then you need to make a mould for some couple thousand USD and can reuse it. Again, cheaper than having all the parts milled.

I have already had some success with some very basic product but this one require much more precise tolerances and for difficult patterns. I really need someone that can help with how to machine the desired pattern, etc.
But I think you are looking for a mechanical product designer / engineer and not for a workshop first.


Like I said, not enough info to help you. So many questions open. In which prototype phase are you? Already close to market product or still at the beginning ? Maybe you can give us a rough sketch of the complexity of your part. Is it a tube, a gear, a solid part, a hollow part, a shell etc.




Greetings from Germany
 
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