My inspiration, my future?

So I made myself a lumenlabs projector, forever ago. I’ll put up a picture if I can find one. This thing was awesome. I filled up a whole living room wall at 1080P in the daytime for under $200 if I remember correctly. Giant ballast, giant metal halogen bulb, giant box, frensel lens, a dissected LCD monitor, and a projector lens. The thing was awesome, and it heated up the room! Seriously looked as good 12 years ago (ballpark) as a projector I tried a year ago that cost more than $700.

Then these guys came up with the micro, it was sexy. I had to have one. They were back ordered from the beginning, I never put up my money because I didn’t want to be on a waiting list, this might be why I only take back orders when the parts are less than a week out.

These guys were my inspiration for sure, then I saw and used the big Hass mills at school and really had to have one.

That linked article scares the crap out of me. I am kinda right at that point, I keep adding printers. Maybe it’s time I make a version for injection molding or easy milling. I have actually wanted to stay away from these mass production lanes because it slows progression. Simple changes cost a ton of money and time. Maybe I’m different because I sell mostly kits not print farm plastic? But if I got sick, things would stop. I hope this guy was wrong with all his assumptions, maybe I need to raise my price?

Anybody that knows money have any insight, I just like to build things…

I’m no money expert, but I think as long as you identify and hold onto a niche, you’ll be doing well. Your niche right now I guess is largely tinkerers, many of whom are happy to… or want to… print their own parts.

By employing mass production you might end up with a higher gross margin, but you’re potentially changing the above proposition… perhaps to focus on more mass market, cheaper-end kits. It’s up to you to determine if you’d do well in that market.

Keeping good accounts that include an honest price on your labour and production costs will help you decide, by forcing you to make the above decisions before it’s too late. If you’re in a space where you don’t need to make those decisions yet, then don’t sweat it too hard – enjoy the niche you’ve carved out while it lasts.

Thanks, so far so good. If the TAZ printers can survive by printing there own parts I think I can as well.

I think you are doing just fine. Reading that article initially scared the crap out of me because it sounded just like the company I work for (a 1-3 nice machines, an idea, and an engineer). But then I kept reading and it sounded like every company like that made false promises. Something that is just not acceptable. You are very realistic about things and don’t accept orders if stuff isn’t in stock or wont be in for a while.

Honestly, as long as the website stays running I think the machine will continue to evolve with or without you. The shop may go away, but there are so many services where you can get 3d printed parts. Now many public libraries even have a few printers for people to use (though usually at way over material cost). All of the other materials are easy enough to find, and the firmware is publicly available. That is another key reason that other companies fail. Your design is totally open and there are CAD files available online (though stls are hard to work with).

This is a kind of relating example:
The robotics team that I am on just finished up with a contracted project for one of our sponsors. In the end the customer suggested a few basic changes due to things they failed to communicate to us in the initial stages, but they loved it none the less and are planning on having many more professionally made. We gave them the cad files and they are just having the parts printed on nice machines because the number of parts they need does not justify the costs of having molds made for injection molding.

I personally would NOT invest in injection molding parts because they are going to grow over time and change. For instance, as 3d printers evolve in to different planes, or resin because better, or we can all printer steel cheaply etc, then your entire process will change. Stay small, stay nimble, adapt to where the market goes and try to be proactive.
I work for a startup enterprise storage (IT) company and we need to be 1-2 steps ahead of the market to anticipate where our products need to be etc.
DONT sit back and expect to keep selling the same product for a year, or 2 or more. You are doing the right thing by looking at V2. Look beyond V2 to V5.
Look at extruded rails, etc like the X carve. I know that adds price, but let us deal with that. Make it an option. If i had the option to build my own MPCNC with those rails and a different system I would. There are a LOT of hobbyists like me who do this for FUN, not for profit, and quite frankly the money doesnt matter.
Id have paid double for your kit if the value was there (and it largely is). Offer a V2 for 2x cost or 3x with options etc.

Congrats on the success so far, keep it up.

Thanks, that all makes sense to me. V1 was going to be different, the original idea might be V3 if I can figure out how to ship large rails. I don’t want to mess with injection molding, the volume would need to be way too high, I am pretty happy with our tight knit little user group we have. Everyone is very positive and supportive, get too big and the creeps come out! I would like to make my own extruded rails though, that cost is actually pretty low, but right now I could only feasibly ship 23.5in lengths, shipping is always the bummer.