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Small Scale Manufacturing Machines

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jpanarra

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Hey all! JP HERE!


A bit about myself, I am a department head in a manufacturing plant and I’m responsible for a few large scale manufacturing lines for bolts. I’ve been exposed to a number of manufacturing machines.

If there’s a way to ‘print’ money it's having a machine make something of value that people want.





Are those the machines you’re thinking of?


You’re not alone and that most people tend to think of machines people tend to think of hundreds of thousands even millions to start up.


The reality is that today it’s much cheaper and accessible for someone to even start a small scale manufacturing business in your garage. I wanted to share with you a few machines so you can start designing, developing, and selling your idea right out of your garage instead of spending wads of cash for a manufacturer.


So the machines I’ll be posting will be under 2k and small enough to start a manufacturing operation in your garage.


3d Printer -


I’ve made a post earlier about 3d printing and this is one of the most versatile machines out there and you can literally think near of anything in a 12”x12” cube. Even better if you know how to play with led lights and soldering, you can get some transparent PLA plastic and have some cool decor lighting.


I currently love my 3d printer I got on amazon for less than 250$. Plastic usually costs 20-25 dollars for a 1k roll.


The printer - Comgrow Creality Ender 3 Pro 3D Printer with Removable Build Surface Plate and UL Certified Power Supply 220x220x250mm: Amazon.com: Industrial & Scientific


The Brand I would reccomend you to use - (hatchbox)

Amazon.com: HATCHBOX PLA 3D Printer Filament, Dimensional Accuracy +/- 0.03 mm, 1 kg Spool, 1.75 mm, Black, Pack of 1: Industrial & Scientific


CNC Machine/Router -


There is quite a range of selections for a CNC machine. They can be small enough to sit on your desktop to the size of a small house.


They can do small things such as engravings and ranging up to metalwork. Although the choices for a smaller business such as the inventables X-Carve is basically plug and play and is priced a little over 1k for a carving space of 1 meter x 1 meter which is massive for woodworking projects like signs, small bowls, and other projects.


You can find them here - Inventables


Laser Cutter/etch -


Now keep in mind, Laser cutters are dangerous with fumes so you should keep a good ventilated space or have it blown outside from your garage. That being said, laser cutters and etchers are very versatile machines that can do awesome custom work on metal, wood, plastic etc…

The plug and play version is a bit pricy my experience with laser cutters is pretty limited but the Glowforge was very impressive but it boasts a price tag of almost 4k and my understanding it can’t cut through material greater than 2 inches.

There are hundreds of laser etchers that are out there that are significantly less and can do the same work. The machine is just not as attractive - you can drop a good 2k and get the same capacity for an ‘industrial-looking’ machine. Like this one https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BKWP0A2/?tag=tff-amazonparser-20


Now if you have all 3 of those - you can virtually come up with a cutting edge product in your garage to start selling right off the back.

All it takes is some time invested on Fusion 360 Cloud Powered 3D CAD/CAM Software for Product Design | Fusion 360

(which is free for hobbyists up to a year i believe) and a ton of youtube tutorials!


You are literally limited to your own imagination and elbow grease, no more excuses and now get your a$$ to work!
 

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alexkuzmov

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Hey all! JP HERE!


A bit about myself, I am a department head in a manufacturing plant and I’m responsible for a few large scale manufacturing lines for bolts. I’ve been exposed to a number of manufacturing machines.

If there’s a way to ‘print’ money it's having a machine make something of value that people want.





Are those the machines you’re thinking of?


You’re not alone and that most people tend to think of machines people tend to think of hundreds of thousands even millions to start up.


The reality is that today it’s much cheaper and accessible for someone to even start a small scale manufacturing business in your garage. I wanted to share with you a few machines so you can start designing, developing, and selling your idea right out of your garage instead of spending wads of cash for a manufacturer.


So the machines I’ll be posting will be under 2k and small enough to start a manufacturing operation in your garage.


3d Printer -


I’ve made a post earlier about 3d printing and this is one of the most versatile machines out there and you can literally think near of anything in a 12”x12” cube. Even better if you know how to play with led lights and soldering, you can get some transparent PLA plastic and have some cool decor lighting.


I currently love my 3d printer I got on amazon for less than 250$. Plastic usually costs 20-25 dollars for a 1k roll.


The printer - Comgrow Creality Ender 3 Pro 3D Printer with Removable Build Surface Plate and UL Certified Power Supply 220x220x250mm: Amazon.com: Industrial & Scientific


The Brand I would reccomend you to use - (hatchbox)

Amazon.com: HATCHBOX PLA 3D Printer Filament, Dimensional Accuracy +/- 0.03 mm, 1 kg Spool, 1.75 mm, Black, Pack of 1: Industrial & Scientific


CNC Machine/Router -


There is quite a range of selections for a CNC machine. They can be small enough to sit on your desktop to the size of a small house.


They can do small things such as engravings and ranging up to metalwork. Although the choices for a smaller business such as the inventables X-Carve is basically plug and play and is priced a little over 1k for a carving space of 1 meter x 1 meter which is massive for woodworking projects like signs, small bowls, and other projects.


You can find them here - Inventables


Laser Cutter/etch -


Now keep in mind, Laser cutters are dangerous with fumes so you should keep a good ventilated space or have it blown outside from your garage. That being said, laser cutters and etchers are very versatile machines that can do awesome custom work on metal, wood, plastic etc…

The plug and play version is a bit pricy my experience with laser cutters is pretty limited but the Glowforge was very impressive but it boasts a price tag of almost 4k and my understanding it can’t cut through material greater than 2 inches.

There are hundreds of laser etchers that are out there that are significantly less and can do the same work. The machine is just not as attractive - you can drop a good 2k and get the same capacity for an ‘industrial-looking’ machine. Like this one https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BKWP0A2/?tag=tff-amazonparser-20


Now if you have all 3 of those - you can virtually come up with a cutting edge product in your garage to start selling right off the back.

All it takes is some time invested on Fusion 360 Cloud Powered 3D CAD/CAM Software for Product Design | Fusion 360

(which is free for hobbyists up to a year i believe) and a ton of youtube tutorials!


You are literally limited to your own imagination and elbow grease, no more excuses and now get your a$$ to work!
Awesome post.

Can you tell me a little bit more about the noise levels for these machines?
Since I dont have a garage(yet) I`m a bit limited on the space where I can have such a machine.
 

broswoodwork

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Yup!

I've been eyeing this one for a while now.

I'm kind of a scaredy cat at about pulling the trigger though. Poverty mindset spendthrift habits linger on as ghosts for quite a while.
 

MTBnamja

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Great thread!

I design and program automation and manufacturing equipment, so I also see a lot of the same opportunity in this area.

I really enjoy designing machines and making manufacturing processes more efficient, so I would love to set up my own small manufacturing facility for a product.

I feel like this is the direction I will be heading in the next couple years, as I also have full access to a machine shop, so I see a lot of opportunity here for a fastlane venture. The hardest part for me is deciding what to make.
 

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I didn t know the prices are so low!
What can these cheap machines actually do?
 
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Awesome post.

Can you tell me a little bit more about the noise levels for these machines?
Since I dont have a garage(yet) I`m a bit limited on the space where I can have such a machine.
Well, this would be a very difficult question for me to answer... haha I'm deaf so I wouldn't be be the best person to ask but I'll try my best. The loudest one would probably be the CNC machines especially if you're going to mill metal because you're constantly spinning a high speed bit and chipping away a medium. The 3d printers I can't imagine being too loud besides for the fans and stepper motors. The Laser is probably loud due to the fans to ventilate the fumes.

I couldn't really tell you the sound levels but I hope that helps...

Yup!

I've been eyeing this one for a while now.

I'm kind of a scaredy cat at about pulling the trigger though. Poverty mindset spendthrift habits linger on as ghosts for quite a while.
If you're nervous about pulling the trigger and want to learn how to use the machines first.. look for a local makerspace if you're in the US and the majority of first world cities have them. You can search here.


I didn t know the prices are so low!
What can these cheap machines actually do?
Well.. thats a very broad question.. It would depend on the circumstances. 3d printing can vitrually make anything out of plastic within a 1'x1' cube. CNC can chip away at a media such as acrylic, wood, etc. Laser can cut through wood sheets or etch anodized surfaces to make personalizations or brand a product.
 

NMdad

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Yup!

I've been eyeing this one for a while now.

I'm kind of a scaredy cat at about pulling the trigger though. Poverty mindset spendthrift habits linger on as ghosts for quite a while.
I feel this.

Another limiting belief for me was the time required to learn 3D modeling & printing, combined with microelectronics, since I have a couple product ideas that combine both the 3D & electronics. I know a teensy bit, but not enough to make prototypes. So, I hired a high-school student who has that expertise, and he's helping tutor me.
 

BrianLateStart

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I'll agree that being able to manufacture your own product could really cut down on the cost of producing your product, but I don't think these kind of machines are intended for manufacturing products at volume.

3D printing and CNC milling are very slow. CNC milling has added complexity that comes with trying to hold and accurately locate your work piece, especially if you need to machine both sides. Not to mention the fixtures and different size bits you'll need. There's a lot more learning required to make an accurately milled part than there is to 3D printing. 3D printing isn't just push a button and the part comes out. There's a lot of tweaking to get temperatures right, speeds, materials, work surface temperature, drying filament (nylons) and building/removing support structures in order to get a usable parts. It's a lot of time to get this right.

These machines are great for making prototypes and small runs to test your market, but do you need to make these parts yourself? Your time might be better spent having small runs made at a makerspace or places like Shapeways that can get you accurate, quality parts without you spending countless hours learning how to run the machines. I've used Shapeways for many, many 3D printed parts and it's fairly cheap. If you do manage to get a CNC part milled, how accurate is it? Do you have a good way to inspect it? Places that make CNC prototypes almost almost always inspect them if you provide a drawing with tolerances you want met.

Just my $.02
 

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I'll agree that being able to manufacture your own product could really cut down on the cost of producing your product, but I don't think these kind of machines are intended for manufacturing products at volume.

3D printing and CNC milling are very slow. CNC milling has added complexity that comes with trying to hold and accurately locate your work piece, especially if you need to machine both sides. Not to mention the fixtures and different size bits you'll need. There's a lot more learning required to make an accurately milled part than there is to 3D printing. 3D printing isn't just push a button and the part comes out. There's a lot of tweaking to get temperatures right, speeds, materials, work surface temperature, drying filament (nylons) and building/removing support structures in order to get a usable parts. It's a lot of time to get this right.

These machines are great for making prototypes and small runs to test your market, but do you need to make these parts yourself? Your time might be better spent having small runs made at a makerspace or places like Shapeways that can get you accurate, quality parts without you spending countless hours learning how to run the machines. I've used Shapeways for many, many 3D printed parts and it's fairly cheap. If you do manage to get a CNC part milled, how accurate is it? Do you have a good way to inspect it? Places that make CNC prototypes almost almost always inspect them if you provide a drawing with tolerances you want met.

Just my $.02
3d printer:
I thought about making prototypes and small runs for testing the market. That would be a great thing.
But I realld dont have a clear idea, how my thoughts get into a plan for printing a part 3d.
Do you need a computer connected to the printer?
Can you make a classic technical plan for a part and a programm makes tha data for the part?
 

broswoodwork

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Haha. I always assume, incorrectly, that I'll just learn technical things, like programming vectors and all that, on the fly like I'm still a 14 year old banging around on the c:\> prompt.

That's a good tip though. Thank you! I would've killed for a rad first job like that when I was a kid.
 

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@jpanarra the machine I can't believe doesn't exist is a desktop box maker that I can feed small sheets of corrugate into.
 

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In my "down" time lately I'm working on lost wax/PLA casting (bronze or other metals) with my 3d printer. There's a whole lot of stuff you can make out of a garage, if you're willing to iterate process a bit.
 

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@Ing if you're designing your own stuff, you need to draw it with a 3D CAD program. Or have someone do it. Blender, FreeCAD, TinkerCAD, Fusion360, etc.

Export your 3D design to .stl. Then load it into a program that outputs .gcode instructions for the 3D printer (Cura, PrusaSlicer, Simplify3D, etc).

You can connect a laptop to the 3D printer, but most printers have an SD card slot, so you just load designs onto the card, put it in the printer, select the one you wanna print.
 

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I'll agree that being able to manufacture your own product could really cut down on the cost of producing your product, but I don't think these kind of machines are intended for manufacturing products at volume.

3D printing and CNC milling are very slow. CNC milling has added complexity that comes with trying to hold and accurately locate your work piece, especially if you need to machine both sides. Not to mention the fixtures and different size bits you'll need. There's a lot more learning required to make an accurately milled part than there is to 3D printing. 3D printing isn't just push a button and the part comes out. There's a lot of tweaking to get temperatures right, speeds, materials, work surface temperature, drying filament (nylons) and building/removing support structures in order to get a usable parts. It's a lot of time to get this right.

These machines are great for making prototypes and small runs to test your market, but do you need to make these parts yourself? Your time might be better spent having small runs made at a makerspace or places like Shapeways that can get you accurate, quality parts without you spending countless hours learning how to run the machines. I've used Shapeways for many, many 3D printed parts and it's fairly cheap. If you do manage to get a CNC part milled, how accurate is it? Do you have a good way to inspect it? Places that make CNC prototypes almost almost always inspect them if you provide a drawing with tolerances you want met.

Just my $.02
That might be true now, but over time the market will synthesize the deep learning of the individual users into hardware and software that becomes more powerful and user friendly. Now in 2020 a novice computer user can accomplish things that took a professional hours of toil as recently as 10 years ago. Think about how easy it is to create a Shopify store and run an ad campaign.

I wouldn’t be surprised if in 10 years when you take your car to the mechanic... I mean when your car drives itself to the mechanic :), a trainee technician will be able to fabricate the part you need in 20 minutes on a kiosk that anyone that can use a mobile phone can operate.

You’ll still have to stand in line to get your drivers (passengers?) license renewed though probably. ;)
 

roguehillbilly

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3d printing is a hell of a lot of fun. I got into it ~2014 and wish I stuck with the community.
Thinking about getting back in. What could you make that could make money? Or how could you brainstorm things to make?

The lost wax thing is really interesting too...I could see some kind of custom jewelry or something on etsy, etc succeeding.
 
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@jpanarra the machine I can't believe doesn't exist is a desktop box maker that I can feed small sheets of corrugate into.
There is one, its called a CNC haha... The only thing is instead of using a spindle and bit. You'll put on a dragknife and it'll cut in a designed pattern or boxes as you will. Drag Knifes are really handy for cutting soft materials like vinyl, cardboard, mat board, foam, wood veneer, leather, and many others.

Check it!
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2LTp0xdSTE


In my "down" time lately I'm working on lost wax/PLA casting (bronze or other metals) with my 3d printer. There's a whole lot of stuff you can make out of a garage, if you're willing to iterate process a bit.
Thats awesome, tbh i think printing molds is the best way to go to create a small scale manufacturing process bc molds have a expiration date and you can make as many as you need based on the demand.


3d printing is a hell of a lot of fun. I got into it ~2014 and wish I stuck with the community.
Thinking about getting back in. What could you make that could make money? Or how could you brainstorm things to make?

The lost wax thing is really interesting too...I could see some kind of custom jewelry or something on etsy, etc succeeding.
The limit is really you, I do this little exercise for myself. Once a week I'll make a list of 10 things to sell or improvements of something i could try and make on a 3-d printer. Then every week it gets easier to come up even more creative ideas.
 

roguehillbilly

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The limit is really you, I do this little exercise for myself. Once a week I'll make a list of 10 things to sell or improvements of something i could try and make on a 3-d printer. Then every week it gets easier to come up even more creative ideas.
I'm probably picking up a printer today :)
It's been too long.
I don't expect to get rich though, printing takes forever...how could you ever scale if you needed to crank out a lot of stuff?
get more hardware I guess.
Maybe custom design or selling the files would scale a lot better.

on the topic of CNC -- I have been tuning my car lately and there are some really niche parts that could be CNC'd and sold. Tuners and car enthusiasts would be interested. Definitely takes some work there, though.
 

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Yup!

I've been eyeing this one for a while now.

I'm kind of a scaredy cat at about pulling the trigger though. Poverty mindset spendthrift habits linger on as ghosts for quite a while.
It's a simple calculation:

1. How many hours will it save you per week?
2. Multiply that by 48. Assuming that's how many weeks you'll be working.
3. Then multiply that by 2, assuming that machine will last at least two years.
4. Next, take your hourly income, and multiply it by the number you got in #3.
5. If #4 is greater than the machine cost, then buy the machine.

Here's an example.
1. It saves 3 hours per week.
2. 3* 48 = 144
3. 2* 144 = 288
4. $20 an hour. So $20 * 288 = $5,760.
5. Because #4 is less than the $6,000 machine, don't buy it.

Of course these numbers are adjusted. Especially #3 - that's how long you expect the machine to last. A lot of machines will last 10+ years, or have maintenance contracts, etc.

Obviously these numbers are heavily situation dependent, however, there's your framework. If the numbers work, and you're 95%+ confident in your numbers, then pull the trigger.
 
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jpanarra

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Another thing I'll like to add,

I took a quick search for a tutorials for beginners on you-tube to learn how to use the fusion 360 software and there are a number of tutorials available across the board so if you do one video tutorial per day you'll be able to virtually be an 'expert' in 3d modeling for 3d printing or wood working.

I took a short look on youtube and i found this awesome channel and it seems like it'll be a good place to start -


It's a simple calculation:

1. How many hours will it save you per week?
2. Multiply that by 48. Assuming that's how many weeks you'll be working.
3. Then multiply that by 2, assuming that machine will last at least two years.
4. Next, take your hourly income, and multiply it by the number you got in #3.
5. If #4 is greater than the machine cost, then buy the machine.

Here's an example.
1. It saves 3 hours per week.
2. 3* 48 = 144
3. 2* 144 = 288
4. $20 an hour. So $20 * 288 = $5,760.
5. Because #4 is less than the $6,000 machine, don't buy it.

Of course these numbers are adjusted. Especially #3 - that's how long you expect the machine to last. A lot of machines will last 10+ years, or have maintenance contracts, etc.

Obviously these numbers are heavily situation dependent, however, there's your framework. If the numbers work, and you're 95%+ confident in your numbers, then pull the trigger.
Thanks for the example! Also, keep in mind if you use the 3-d printer to support the manufacturing process instead of being THE manufacturing process you'll have a better chance of scaling it quickly. I know I sound like a broken record but I'll say it again because its the perfect example such as Molds for softer mediums such as candles, Soap, silicone, soft plastics etc.. Or even to use the printer to make another printer and this is exactly what PRUSA is doing... check this video out...

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjoQw5fGk6Q
 

EVMaso

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Thanks for the example! Also, keep in mind if you use the 3-d printer to support the manufacturing process instead of being THE manufacturing process you'll have a better chance of scaling it quickly. I know I sound like a broken record but I'll say it again because its the perfect example such as Molds for softer mediums such as candles, Soap, silicone, soft plastics etc.. Or even to use the printer to make another printer and this is exactly what PRUSA is doing... check this video out...

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjoQw5fGk6Q
That video was great, and so was the recommended video "Road to 100,000 Printers".

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xX3pDDi9PeU
 

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Worth noting too that Joseph Prusa's company is valued in the hundreds of millions... and they use 3D printers to make 3D printers. Not that I would copy that exactly, but it shows the technology can be used to build something big, if you do all the other things that are required to build a company. I bet somewhere there's a $300mm company where they use keyboards to do their jobs. Maybe even pencils!
 

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@Ing if you're designing your own stuff, you need to draw it with a 3D CAD program. Or have someone do it. Blender, FreeCAD, TinkerCAD, Fusion360, etc.

Export your 3D design to .stl. Then load it into a program that outputs .gcode instructions for the 3D printer (Cura, PrusaSlicer, Simplify3D, etc).

You can connect a laptop to the 3D printer, but most printers have an SD card slot, so you just load designs onto the card, put it in the printer, select the one you wanna print.
Thank you! That was exactly what I needed.100%value!
 

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I bought a Creality Ender 3 for $170 last fall to make a small part that I had spent way too long trying to find. So I designed it in Sketchup and printed them. I'm impressed with the tech and quality of the ender3 for such an affordable price. I wish I had more ideas of things worth building.
 

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Just make a CENTS check for this small "manufacturing on your knees" with toy machines and you'll realize the chances to become rich are very low. The above mentioned Prusa sells shovels for amateur gold diggers and he could do better using plastic injection molding...
I am guilty too with this small thinking. I started building hobby CNC and SMT Pick and Place machine but if I think about it's just a waste of my time and doing it only for fun and because I have the parts lying around (I am selling industrial automation parts). I know someone who has professional SMT machines and he will be more than happy to make me PCB boards for my "secret" project. But in the end this self-started self-funded small manufacturing does not conform to CENTS so I'll try to avoid this like plague. It's hard because of years of small thinking.
 

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Just make a CENTS check for this small "manufacturing on your knees" with toy machines and you'll realize the chances to become rich are very low. The above mentioned Prusa sells shovels for amateur gold diggers and he could do better using plastic injection molding...
I am guilty too with this small thinking. I started building hobby CNC and SMT Pick and Place machine but if I think about it's just a waste of my time and doing it only for fun and because I have the parts lying around (I am selling industrial automation parts). I know someone who has professional SMT machines and he will be more than happy to make me PCB boards for my "secret" project. But in the end this self-started self-funded small manufacturing does not conform to CENTS so I'll try to avoid this like plague. It's hard because of years of small thinking.
3D Printing really isn't scalable at high volume, however, nothing is better to quickly make prototypes if you have the skill to make and adjust your CAD files.

It's just a tool to high volume manufacturing once you have a good prototype.
 

Redwolf

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I recently met one of the founders from GSG Audio Design, Kevin, super cool guy and very smart who does exactly this as a side gig. They started up about a year ago to help fill the need of audiophiles (bass heads) who want a DIY home theater subwoofer, but don't want to design and build from scratch or pay huge prices for off the shelf products that aren't as good.

They use CNC machines (expensive ones) to make flat pack subwoofers - kinda like putting together furniture from Ikea. The customer supplies their own driver and external amp and assembles the kit at home. They have been very busy, apparently they found a good niche. I got their "full marty" design that uses an 18 inch subwoofer. It's pretty bonkers.

These guys are totally becoming Fastlane, I told him to join this forum asap.

If you're curious:
 

LightningHelix

Contributor
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Mar 26, 2015
32
45
109
33
I recently met one of the founders from GSG Audio Design, Kevin, super cool guy and very smart who does exactly this as a side gig. They started up about a year ago to help fill the need of audiophiles (bass heads) who want a DIY home theater subwoofer, but don't want to design and build from scratch or pay huge prices for off the shelf products that aren't as good.

They use CNC machines (expensive ones) to make flat pack subwoofers - kinda like putting together furniture from Ikea. The customer supplies their own driver and external amp and assembles the kit at home. They have been very busy, apparently they found a good niche. I got their "full marty" design that uses an 18 inch subwoofer. It's pretty bonkers.

These guys are totally becoming Fastlane, I told him to join this forum asap.

If you're curious:
I love this!

Imagine how many other industries this approach could have!

Great stuff
 

KodoKaizen

New Contributor
Nov 28, 2019
1
1
12
United States
I love this thread! Just a small note on cheaper FDM printers: Hobby level 3D printers are the most versatile prototyping tool you can get. However, they don't perform well for all types of small scale manufacturing. Parts which need to be aesthetically pleasing, dimensionally accurate (ex. threads), durable (physically, chemically, extended use etc.), and large volume enclosures (think thin walls, long walls) are usually poor candidates for this type of 3D printing. On the other hand there are commercial grade printers which can perform very well in all scenarios from prototyping to beautiful, robust products like the Markforged Onyx printer (Onyx One Professional Desktop 3D Printer: Plastic & Carbon | Markforged). If you're primarly interested in aesthetics, I would recommend resin based printers like the prusa SL1 (Original Prusa SL1 - Prusa3D - 3D Printers from Josef Průša).

If you're looking for great implementations of low cost 3d prints into small scale manufacturing check out (Relio's diffusers and mounts - Relio² - Natural lighting in the palm of your hands and Prusa's 3D printers Original Prusa i3 MK3S - Prusa3D - 3D Printers from Josef Průša all orange parts of this printer are 3D printed).
 

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