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

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!

You May Also Like

About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. Yah! But people today have learned the hard way some lessons in life and restart by living very minimal. So therefore there isn't no use of making things.

  2. Excellent video. Thank you for sharing your experience; wins & failures.
    For 3D modeling Fusion 360 is great. A better option, in my opinion, is Blender. A completely free, open source program. If you start making money using Fusion 360 you'll have to pay for the program based off the income made from it. Not with Blender : -)

  3. Hey guys..First and foremost, Great videol 😉 well thought out, concisely delivered,. Totally logical, Refreshingly honest… (New Subscriber)..

  4. Please do a video on how to get your products out there for potential buyers, that want to order in bulk, to see. Hope I said that right.

  5. Evan and Katelyn, will you make custom one off pieces for subscribers? If so I'd like to get communication on a very small scale 1 of 1 item. let me know and thank you in advance.

  6. 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

  7. Great video. As someone that is at the very beginning stages of all of this, your information is very useful. You seem to be a great team. Wish you continued success and thank you.

  8. Hi Have you ever though of setting up service for small item maanufacturing……where people can contact you to resource field specialists say …..cnc companies or mold makers or 3d printers…or marketers or fund raising sources and how to ask for money lol….I would be your first customer for most of that info….

  9. Or I could just send my table design to you guys and let you make it for me SIGGGGGH I wish

  10. Great video!! I have a remodeling business but like to make things with wood and put a beautiful finish on it. I also like to take old furniture and refinish them. I really like the fact that you mentioned the 3D printer and C&C machine being affordable. I thought about putting some of my things online for sale. Thank you

  11. Hi Evan and Katelyn! You are just awesome! Let me ask you something: what's up if I have the machines, the materials but Im struggling with the design part? I have many good ideas , and I spent the last year to buy all the neccessary things to start my own little business, but I just have no idea how to use coreldraw so I cannot design my products… I have been searching designers lately, but I just dont find anybody.. :/ If you would have any suggestions I would be grateful… thanks, have a good day

  12. Hey, great movie – you're an inspiration for me and my wife. It's nice to watch you – passion, the desire to constantly work on products – in the simplest way, but with a very satisfying end result.

  13. Thanks Great video if you upload the complete manufacturing process from beginning to end of any any single product it would be more useful……

  14. I have been wanting to starting making some products that I have come up with, but I have this fear looming over me that someone will steal one of my ideas. How do you guys deal with that, or does it not bother you?

  15. HI, Yeah you guys are great. The last video that blew me away was about 3D printing with material that can be used as a casting mold. They coat with layers, then bake the plastic out.

  16. I went to their merch site and only see clothing. Did they give up on the other machined products and go full time DIY YouTubers?

  17. Do you find that crafts sell better? Have you done any utility (i.e. tableware, cups, book ends…. )
    Second question: Do you find that resin or wood items sell better?

  18. #1 Buy Chinese illegals
    #2 Lay materials and tools on garage floor
    #3 Show food
    #4 Take food and lock door
    #5 Check back in 2 days

  19. thank you evan and katelyn . you have the mission in helping poor people to build things as their livelihood. you can stop poverty, maybe you can travel sometimes.

  20. comforting video to stumble on as I'm in my start up phase and have just gone all in and more on my first cnc router. What you were saying about good design, max machine work and min human input are my objectives also. Marketing is what I'm worried about as my main product will be to big for international shipping but easily outsourced. A lot of learning and financial uncertainty ahead. Should have my router by the end of May.!!

    Cheers keep up the good video's!

  21. Former tool & die maker / engineer / tech-ed instructor in another life…and I 100% verify Evan's point of view of "bringing it all home" with a small-scale manufacturing. My morning commute consists of walking down 13 stairs to get to the shop. Kudos E&K for such an inspirational video.

  22. Yeah, I'm 8 months late to this video but now I can't get it out of my mind…I keep obsessing over who the mysterious "N" is who apparently predated Evan by 3 years.

  23. There is more… as you grow you have to think about technology requirements with suppliers, distributors, and most importantly, your Customers!

  24. I just saw your video. Real great stuff. You’re pushing me in a direction I want to go. Tomorrow I file for my DBA. I’ve been building tactical shelves and boxes and have about 2k under my belt now (my investment thus far is a bit higher… a lot a bit higher. )

    I need a website but I am clueless on code or setting one up. Anyone have any thoughts?

  25. Hi E&K, this video was great. I'm a teenager with a long summer holiday. I have purchased a CNC and I am trying to earn $1200 for a camera. I know that goal is probably a little ambitious for my age, and considering what I be doing might not actually gain traction, I am starting to stress. Any tips on how to gain traction within weeks, and achieve my goal of $1200 in 3 months? Thanks (EDIT: Any suggestions for what market I should try and enter would be much appreciated!)

  26. Thank you for this informative video. Did you need to get special permits to work and make your products at home? Did you have any zoning issues?

  27. I thought getting a decent 3d printer and pring industrial grade poly carbonate parts .. now you inspired me even more , nice 👍

  28. Three reasons why should start this business:
    1. SMALL investment, BIG potential
    2. FEW competitors
    3. She's so fucking CUTE 🙂

  29. شكرا لكم استاذ على الافكار الجميلة العقيق
    تحية من الجزائر

  30. Hi, you hand a stamp that you used to put your name on the product in the beginning if the video, did you buy it or make it? I would like something like that to mark the back of my jewelry I make. Business name is customtreatz on Instagram and fb. Thank you

  31. You guys tripped up on your words a lot and it's honestly the most adorable thing in the video. It's so relatable.

  32. I'm really glad I recently stumbled across your guys' channel—I don't know how I haven't found it earlier—but I'm working towards a mechanical engineering degree specializing in design with the hopes of either going into something related to product design or starting my own business (preferably the latter), so I found this video very encouraging (and your channel as a whole very inspiring). Thank you for your beautiful content!

  33. So now you make your living off of YouTube videos and patron and the manufacturing is just a side business?

  34. Hey EK
    I know that something inside me which wants to come out in future but I don't know to how to make this early

  35. Do you have a suggestion on how to create an idea? I know it's a silly question, but I would really like to have a small online shop on Etsy, thought I do not have a precise talent or a good amount of time. To be honnest, I took a class for a futur dream job, but it turned out to be on a minimal wage job. This is discouraging and I would eventually need a side job to be able to raise kids in comfort

  36. 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

  37. 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….

  38. 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.

  39. 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. …

  40. 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!

  41. 👋 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *