You Don’t Have To be Young To Be A Maker

While I was making breakfast a story was running on the local news. It was about this.

I thought that the story was interesting  for a variety of reasons. One, was that the ladies were dealing with a problem and came up with an innovative solution. Two, they did the prototyping in the Westport CT library, right next door to me, but perhaps more significantly was that the product development was done in the library at all.  Third, the people doing this are dedicated to getting their product made here, in the US.  The very thing that so many say cannot be done.  They managed to do it though. Here is their vendor, I think.[ Corrected the vendor was not Marlborough plastics.]

Instead it was these folks.


This company is typical of the many small manufacturers here in Connecticut.  I like to say that I can throw a stone and get just about anything I want made. Getting stuff made is not impossible, just hidden.  You have to know where to go to find the vendors you need. The best place to start to find vendors in your area is the Thomas Register.

You can also look for local trade shows for manufacturing–manufacturing

You can also check for the local Small Manufacturers Association a try.

The fact is that here in the US there is no reason why you can’t fulfill a kickstarter right here in the states. It can also be a very good thing to do.  American manufacturers are far more likely to maintain quality and much less likely to turn around and manufacture their product for themselves. In my experience, American vendors would rather build a relationship with you than go for the quick buck by stealing your product.  They will also work hard to maintain that relationship because they have to look you in the eye and you will be talking about them, good and bad.

As for the Negg, this is a perfect example of how to do it.  It’s also just how powerful the technologies that are available to just about everybody and how to leverage those technologies to create and innovate.  How this will disrupt how things are done is going to be exciting.



Working In Clay

How a car is created. One would think that designing a car would be a process of creating drawings and then transferring the drawings to sheet metal.  Which is. But there are some intermediate steps to the process and the best way that car designers have found over the century or so of designing cars is to first create the car in clay.

Read More

Dimensioning And Detailing Your Parts, A Lets Build Resource

This is a follow up on the designing machined parts post. The drawings that I did are for examples and not to be taken as the proper practice for doing drawing.

I’m going to start off with this image.

This is a drawing sent to a jobshop in England( that I ran into on Linked in  and as far as simple goes, it has just about everything needed to make a simple part like this. Well almost, there are a couple of missing dimensions and there needs to be a material and expected finish.  But something like this will get the job done.

Read More

Boomtown, part 3

This is the third of Wired UK’s important series on Shenzhen.

Back when I was researching electrical technology back in the late 19th Century I found that the same sort pooling that Bunnie is talking about. As did the early radio types. In fact, the same sort of tension between patent holders who, for whatever reason have stopped innovating and innovators who want to continue to come up with new things has existed since the beginning of the industrial revolution.

More links:


Boomtown Part 1.


For more on the dysfunctional economy click Here or on the tag below.


This is Shenzhen.

In 1980 this was fishing shacks, rice paddies  and economic freedom and opportunity. Think about that when you hit the booth in November.

Designing machined Parts. A “Let’s Build” Resource

Ran into this excellent post on designing machined parts for manufacturing. the excellent post is from OMW Corp, a job shop in California. The link is below.  If you need some machining work done in CA, they look like a good place to go.  It’s a good guide to how to design parts for machining. There’s no great rocket science here, just common sense and understanding the tools and how they work.

Read More

Making Micro Stuff In Micro Factories

A revolution in manufacturing is coming. The power of automation and the dropping of the costs of tools is going to change the landscape of how thing get made.  How this going to happen and what the impact will be will probably have as large an impact as the industrial revolution did back in the late 18th Century.

Read More

Observations From A Trade Show

I didn’t get out to the trade shows, but it looks like the trends are familiar. David Hunt walked through one recently and here are his observations.

Give-Aways and Other Attention-Draws

My personal take on what give-aways are available at trade shows is this: the better the stuff, the better the economy is doing.

This year it was candy, pens, and letter openers. Pretty thin gruel. Sure there were a few contests to win things, for example a four-rotor drone, but these require giving your business card – for future marketing campaigns. And it’s not like they were giving away a slew of them, but one… so it doesn’t count. (So, now I have some new pens.)

Another economic indicator is the attention-getters; for example, what gimmicks are present to draw people in, and so on. For example, some years ago at – if I recall correctly – an Exxon display at an SPE event they were touting their new impact-resistant plastic, and thus had an actual net-enclosed pitching area where you were invited to throw balls at plaques of the material… plus they had a retired baseball pitcher signing autographs and giving throwing tips. At another show, upon entering the booth you’d pose for a picture and chose between a mug or a keychain fob with your picture – which was ready at the exit some minutes later. Of course the company’s name and logo were right under your picture, but it was still a really memorable gimmick.

In parallel with the above is how lavishly the booths are decorated. I remember one stand-alone booth at a heavily-male-dominated show specifically because it was done up as a tropical island replete with – ahem!– grass-skirted-and-bikini-topped women (whom were from a local modeling agency; yes, I asked) handing out corporate literature. I thought it was cheesy even back then; I would opine that such a gimmick would not fly today. But, nevertheless, it was doubtless not cheap to do.

How you set up a booth relies on ROI.  If the return isn’t seen as being large, the investment in time and expense can’t be seen as being justified.

Read More

A Quick Guide To Product Development, Lets Build


Ben Einstein goes through the process for a relatively simple product. This is a good study how his company Bolt, has a process for product development.  Is his process perfect? No, I would approach things a little differently, but his techniques certainly lay out how a well developed process works.  In my experience, no matter how good you are, always have your hair fire extinguisher ready.

Read More