Small-Scale Product Manufacturing From Your Desk
As technology improves and manufacturing equipment becomes more accessible ecommerce to everyday business owners, desktop machinery for prototyping and initial product runs becomes integral throughout the startup process.
Manufacturing Ecommerce Products with Desktop Equipment
As we enter into the next industrial boom of the cyber age, the feasibility of small-scale manufacturing is becoming increasingly more attainable to those seeking higher margins for their Ecommerce stores. Desktop machinery can prototype, design, and make manufacturing of small runs easily achievable on shoestring startups. This guide will delve into the various opportunities that exist for at-home manufacturers and the types of machinery available to ecommerce entrepreneurs. Explore the many capabilities of these desktop factories and create an assortment of extremely high-quality merchandise that can be customized on a whim.
Desktop Laser Cutting and Engraving
As technology drives prices down, machinery like laser cutters and engravers become available to the mass market for their own production operations. Laser cutters can be found online with optimal cutting capabilities that cost less than $1,000. Prices range from low tier to high end, but it’s imperative to understand what materials you will be cutting in order to know how strong of a laser you will need. High megawatt lasers can cut through would, and you can expect a higher quality engraving from a higher power output. Here are a few ideas for products you can produce with you desktop lasers;
Premium Quality Leather Products
Enter the game with a high quality product. Leather, whether it be faux or real, provides a premium feel and is optimal for creating great consumer accessories. When combined with a simple sewing machine, a laser cutter can be used to create items like wallets, belts, handbags, gun holsters, and other highly lucrative products to display in your ecommerce stores.
Edge-Lit Acrylic Signs
Signs manufactured from acrylic are highly sought after for exhibit displays, physical stores, and business awards. By taking these ideas a step further, acrylic signs can be something even more. By adding a simple LED lighting assembly you can make visually appealing signs that light up in the dark. The shapes can be laser cut, and the designs laser-engraved into the acrylic to give it that edge lighting effect. (P1)
Desktop CNC Machining
A great alternative for those with a smaller starting budget, CNC machines are not to be looked past – especially as we enter into 2021. Even doing a quick search on Ebay will reveal a list of easy-to-assemble desktop CNCs with a quick setup in your home or workshop. (P2) These affordable little units may not be able to mass-produce on the scale of a laser machine, but when doing prototypes and initial product runs is all you need, consider CNC as an alternative.
Creating Memorial Plaques
The customizability and practical applications of a desktop manufacturing machine like a CNC mill will enable its users to manufacture goods like wooden sign reliefs and custom clock faces. An evergreen niche market for signs and memorial plaques can utilize the application of your CNC machine to create beautiful wooden signs for your customers and their loved ones. Your buyers will admire the craftsmanship and handcrafted workmanship of your products and you can feel great knowing your customers are receiving quality products.
Desktop Vinyl Decal Cutters
Even more affordable than the laser engravers and CNC mills, desktop vinyl cutters range in the $250-800 range and can be quite affordable considering they can be used to mass produce vinyl and paper products for sale on your ecommerce shop. Consider researching machines like the Silhouette Cameo or the Cricut Vinyl Cutter as machines when starting out. Vinyl cutters can open the floodgates to an assortment manufacturing possibilities which are not just limited to vinyl. Materials like paper, cardboard, stock, felt, fabric, and foam, can all be cut using a desktop cutting machine. Let’s go over a few popular products that you can begin making right now with the aid of a vinyl cutter machine.
Car Window Decals
How many times have you been outside and seen drivers with a political or sports decal on their window. Typically cut from vinyl, decals such as these are seen as a commodity to enthusiasts every trying to get their message out – even if that be a silly window decal on their car window. Using a desktop cutter like the Silhouette or Cricut cutter, vinyl stick-on decals can be cut from rolls of raw material to product magnificent designs for sale in your website or etsy store. Whether you’re making the designs yourself or outsourcing to a graphic designer, you’ll need to come up with highly aesthetic designs to appeal to your audience. Be safe with a niche like politics, humor, sports, and gaming as these are always sought after by a broad audience.
Narrow down your niche to remain unique from your competition and focus on quality while simultaneously providing a multitude of decals to choose from. They can make great conversation pieces and people are sure to spread the word of where they bought their favorite decals.
Birthday and Holiday Greeting Cards
It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but we’re all familiar with the traditional pastime of giving greeting cards for the holidays and birthday parties. Fortunately for the entrepreneurial-minded, this tradition creates a huge opportunity as the demand for new, creative, and fun cards rises as we adhere to our celebratory routines as a society. Desktop vinyl cutting machines open up the possibilities of a host of new product ideas and inspiration. Consider 3D pop-up cards, colorful multi-layered cards, and unique materials when designing your cards. Being unique and standing out from the rest will ensure better chances for more sales. Craft-good platforms like Etsy are great for gauging the demand for your ideas and driving traffic to view your products.
Manufacturing with 3D Printing
As the quality of 3D printed goods improves, the time isn’t long before we’ll have the capability to print our own guns and power tools in our own homes. Perhaps we can 3D print ourselves more 3D printers. Nonetheless, the 3D printing industry has only grown since it was first popularized around 2010. Now, as we enter 2021, you may be surprised that many are making a living from selling their 3D-printed merchandise online.
3D Printed Custom Gaming Pieces
Ever lose a gaming piece? If you’ve ever played any board games, you may have run into this problem before. With the advent of 3D printing and the possibility for unlimited design capabilities, gaming pieces are all the rage these days for those seeking to spice up their board games with an extra flare. Custom 3D printed gaming pieces will always naturally remain relevant as board games continue to thrive.
Hydrodipping and Water Transfer Printing
It’s time to get your hands wet because hydrodipping requires a setup involving a large tub of water. Ink is printed and transferred onto the surface of the water from which and material that’s dipped into it will have the ink applied to its surface. Also known as water transfer printing, this product customization technique will surely set you apart from the competition. As not many are prepared to set up this process for scaling in their own homes, this opportunity is still ripe for interested hydrodippers to try their hands at a unique approach to creating cool products for their store.
Electrolysis Machine For Jewelry
Don’t stop with plastic, wood, or acrylic. Working with valuable metals such as copper, silver, and gold can be great for those with a jewelry-focused store. The jewelry niche comes with high margins and ample customization, perfect for those with a creative mindset willing to push their way into a competitive market. Great quality handcrafted jewelry can be done on the cheap, and utilizing the capabilities of an electrolysis pen plater can make that a real possibility.
Electroplated Coin Jewelry
Coin jewelry is something anyone can do at home with a pen plating machine. By taking old silver coins and polishing them, you can then apply a gold plating to miraculously enhance the piece. Sellers on eBay show their craftsmanship by selling their own gold-plated silver coin jewelry which can be seen below in this recently sold ebay list; (P)
Desktop Machinery Final Overview
Hopefully this list machines and their uses will provide you with some ideas to take with you while you configure your own products in your online store. If you’re selling on Etsy or your own website, make sure you’re prepared to manufacture the merchandise you plan to offer. Always consider material options, costs, and even other manufacturing options like outsourcing, depending on the volume of your sales and types of products you’ll be producing. Desktop laser cutters, engravers, 3D printers, and other small-scale manufacturing machines will continue to become more accessible to the everyday webstore owner, proving even greater quality and capabilities as the technology improves.