CNC Routers like the ShopBot are extremely capable tools. They can make amazingly precise cuts. They can repeat parts flawlessly and they help fabricate shapes that would be nearly impossible to cut by hand. One of the most exciting things about CNC routers is the opportunities they can offer to folks who have the knack, creativity, and savvy to capitalize on their unique strengths.
My dad taught me woodworking and I’ve always enjoyed it. Throughout my years as a maker, I’ve added finishing, welding, digital fabrication, and computer aided drafting to my skill set.
I have been a Shopbotter for two years now, and I have become very fond of my blue friend. I have taught a few people the ropes to get started on their own projects. I have been running my own fabrication business from my garage shop (which includes a ShopBot Buddy) for the past year. I’m fairly comfortable on the machine and use it almost daily. I have a few clients and have a couple of potential jobs in the works, although I am not making enough with my business to support my future daughter’s diaper habit. I need to figure out a way to generate more profit or I may have to give up the dream of working for myself.
The truth is, I thought that the novelty of the tool was enough to build a business around. It’s got enough wiz-bang and wow factor to attract all sorts of riches, right? I was wrong. Clients didn’t line up around the block to have their prototypes machined. Cabin owner’s didn’t hunt me down for a sign. The internet didn’t explode with requests for impossibly precise cuts from your’s truly. Owning a tool isn’t the same as running a successful business.
I’m going to be writing a series of posts where I’ll share the lessons I’ve learned so far and the lessons I am learning now. I’ll pass on some advice I’ve been given and I’ll share a few strategies you can use to kickstart your business. I’ll share my successes. I’ll also share the mistakes I have made as well as the mistakes I will undoubtedly make in the future.
I’d be glad to get your feedback too. All of us makers are part of unique group and we can help each other. I think digital fabricators are paving the way into the next industrial revolution.