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EXECUTION When to Pivot?

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Doc Brown

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Mar 13, 2019
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Hey all,

I'm hoping to generate some discussion and get some feedback on decision making in the process of product/business system creation.

Currently I have an idea for a gadget call it "The Awesome Machine". I've been learning CAD and trying to build a PoC (proof of concept). One tool I thought would be very helpful is a 3D printer. However, I've spent the last 2 months and several hundred dollars trying to learn the art of 3D printing with no useful results. I'm thinking I should abandon the idea of printing prototype components myself and use a printing service like shapeways.com. Here's my pros/cons:

Pros:
  • Unblock my progress on building The Awesome Machine
  • Get higher quality results for the parts I design
  • Focus on priorities
  • Save time
  • More dependable
Cons:
  • 3D printing is valuable skill and learning experience (especially for the tinkering I'm doing)
  • I have to wait on a service for turnaround on my prototype work
  • I trust some of my IP (intellectual property) to a third party
  • I forgo some potentially valuable learning
What are your thoughts?
 

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Doc Brown

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Mar 13, 2019
7
20
18
Hey all,

I'm hoping to generate some discussion and get some feedback on decision making in the process of product/business system creation.

Currently I have an idea for a gadget call it "The Awesome Machine". I've been learning CAD and trying to build a PoC (proof of concept). One tool I thought would be very helpful is a 3D printer. However, I've spent the last 2 months and several hundred dollars trying to learn the art of 3D printing with no useful results. I'm thinking I should abandon the idea of printing prototype components myself and use a printing service like shapeways.com. Here's my pros/cons:

Pros:
  • Unblock my progress on building The Awesome Machine
  • Get higher quality results for the parts I design
  • Focus on priorities
  • Save time
  • More dependable
Cons:
  • 3D printing is valuable skill and learning experience (especially for the tinkering I'm doing)
  • I have to wait on a service for turnaround on my prototype work
  • I trust some of my IP (intellectual property) to a third party
  • I forgo some potentially valuable learning
What are your thoughts?
It just occurred to me MJ's Weighted Average Decision Matrix would be helpful here. I'll post mine work up of it later today.
 

Ernman

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However, I've spent the last 2 months and several hundred dollars trying to learn the art of 3D printing with no useful results. I'm thinking I should abandon the idea of printing prototype components myself and use a printing service like shapeways.com.
From this I take it you have not invested in the printer itself? I'm a big fan of learning. But this forum has many stories of those who let "learning" become an action fake. Doc Brown has a good idea and I look forward to seeing his example. In the mean time, I'd ask myself if I really need to learn this skill in order to move forward.
 

NMdad

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There's actually a 3rd option, which I think is better: get access to someone else's 3D printer. For example, high schools, community colleges, universities, maker spaces, or even just people in your town--anyone who already has a 3D printer.

Even if you have to pay a small fee to use it, it'll still be less expensive than buying your own. And some of those places will provide training/classes to learn how to design & use it.

And, you'll be able to learn how to use it.

Since you're building a proof-of-concept, you'll probably need to iterate the design (i.e., version 1, 2, 3, etc.). At this stage, learning to do the design & fabrication yourself will give you valuable skills if you decide to have someone else refine & fabricate the components.

If you outsource design & fabrication from the outset, it might be hard to communicate all the details & nuances to the designer, and you may end up having to pay them much more than you initially budgeted, given the multiple iterations you need.
 

Ernman

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There's actually a 3rd option, which I think is better: get access to someone else's 3D printer. For example, high schools, community colleges, universities, maker spaces, or even just people in your town--anyone who already has a 3D printer.
Very good idea
 
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Doc Brown

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Mar 13, 2019
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Thanks for your feedback guys. @NMdad that's a really good idea. FYI @Ernman I bought the 3D printer already. After thinking it over and using WADM here's what I came up with:

Decision Factors & Weights
  • Complete prototype = 10
  • Level of control = 7
  • Cost = 5
  • Knowledge gain = 6
  • Health side effects = 7

DIY Score: (208)
  • Complete prototype = 3
  • Level of control = 10
  • Cost = 4
  • Knowledge gain = 10
  • Health side effects = 4
Outsource Score: (227)
  • Complete prototype = 8
  • Level of control = 5
  • Cost = 5
  • Knowledge gain = 4
  • Health side effects = 9
So outsourcing this work wins with a score of 227. I see DIY as becoming a substantial distraction from the goal of the project and requiring me to be doubled over my workbench breathing stinky molten plastic fumes for hours on end. It would be a great learning experience but not essential to the project. Paying someone else loses control but save me time and likely money in the long term.

@NMdad makes a great point though that I don't have to use a service like Shapeways. In fact here's my path forward. I'm gonna take the printer and equipment I bought to my local Maker Space and offer it to them in return for a free membership and some classes. If they don't want it I'll consider their pricing vs. using some other local entity like the Library.

This would give me some of the learning without all the headache of setting up and running the tools all by myself. It also is a compromise in control because I'm using someone else's tools and training but keeping my hands on my designs/IP. Again, thanks all!!
 

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