Kids Double Desk wireframe

CAD Engineer

It’s been way too long since my last blog update. The combination of summer vacation, a family, remodeling project, visiting family, ….life happens. And to be honest, I was a bit frustrated. Every time I had reached out to a manufacturer, it seemed that they did not want to work with me. A manufacturer wants to produce a product, not sit down with a start-up and finish a CAD drawing.

I was frustrated, but I still wasn’t going to give up. Far from it. So I spent several months trying to catch up on other projects around the house and spend time with family while thinking about my next approach. I knew I needed to shift my approach. I knew that if I wanted to make it easier on a manufacturer to provide me some quotes, I needed to have a 100% perfect CAD drawing and parts list. This is where I fell short. I needed a CAD Engineer to help me discuss design options and produce a CAD file.

I had tried to hire someone from Odesk. My experience was not great. His english was relatively poor and what I discovered was that he had a hard time understanding me. In addition, he was young and lacked experience. I could have just moved on to someone else, but I guess I lacked the patience.

Not long ago, I received an email from Curt, a marketing professor at UCM. He introduced me to a local guy in town, Nathan Epp from ,a href=””>Three Trees Workshop, who has an engineering background, has a CNC, and is starting his own wood working business. What a combination of skills. Exactly what I needed! It didn’t take long for us to meet up at his shop. Since both of us are “engineer types”, we found ourselves immediately on the same page. He quickly recognized where I was and what it was that I needed. We hit it off and he’s already done so much for me. He has re-created the autocad drawings in 5/8th inch material and assembled a BOM (Bill of Materials). A BOM is a list of parts for the thing being made. A manufacturer will use a BOM to produce a quote for a customer.

He went on to nest the parts onto a 5×5 sheet and also a 4×8 sheet. Nesting parts is to arrange them on a piece of material in a way to minimize the waste and run time and maximize productivity. Oftentimes, the software running the CNC machine will do this for the operator, but sometimes this needs to be done manually.

The next step is to cut out a prototype. My engineer and I have an idea that we want to try which will help to reduce the number of pieces in the desk. So our first prototype will actually be a change in design from the desks that I have built. But, if I do not like it, we will go back to my current design. This may mean that we build a few additional models until we get the one that we like.

I need to make sure that I maintain a balance somewhere between producing a great product and producing a perfect product. How much extra time, cost and energy do I spend to eek out another little tweak or change here or there? How much value does it return to both the end customer and to the company? I need to know when to declare a good design that is ready for the market.

One of my challenges with the design of the desk has opened my eyes to product development. I have come to fully appreciate why sometimes a product is designed in a certain way. I have identified several factors that will sometimes affect a product’s design and I’ll talk about this in my next post.

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Regular family guy working to change his stars for his kids.

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