02 1 / 2014

Answer by Andrew Eydt:

Degrees are pieces of paper. 
I have done a lot of application and sales engineering in the power systems industry (diesel engines, power generation, OEM industrial equipment). If you have a good mechanical aptitude, It is 80% thinking clearly and pragmatically about the problem, 10% simple calculations, and 10% complex calculations.  A degree in engineering is “a waste” 90% of the time in the job - except for the confidence and mathematical aptitude it gives. 

I would say yes that is very possible.  You just have to strive to understand the product as well as the design engineers.  Call it technical sales, not sales engineer.  The big swinging B2C sales tactics are or no use there though.  It is all about solving a problem for the customer through superior products, better efficiency, less waste/noise/pollution, better uptime reliability, cheaper spare parts, and essentiality more detailed ROI and lifetime cost calculations.  The cheapest upfront capital costs are only for the prospective customers who are aiming to be in the commodity business.

I hope that helps.
-Andrew, www.producracy.com
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01 1 / 2014

Answer by Andrew Eydt:

The stuff that I’ve run across is PTC Windchill, and Autodesk Vault.  A good tool to document calculations is MathCAD. 
Finally, everyone uses Excel and other spreadsheets for a lot of manual document control.  Myself included.
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01 1 / 2014

Answer by Andrew Eydt:

I am unsure of a freeware software, or anything automatic for that matter.
But it you only have two models to combine, maybe finding a program and doing it yourself isn’t the right way to do this.  Odesk has a number of inexpensive freelance designers. 
Or get in touch with me - I can have one of mine do it very fast and cheap.  Then you can have dent rendering images and 2D drawings as well if you want.
-Andrew, http://www.producracy.com
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01 1 / 2014

Answer by Andrew Eydt:

I’ll assume you are just looking to contract manufacture products and then inventory, market, sell, ship, and provide customer service yourself.

In that case, the product simply has to be manufacturable.  Even a cursory amount of research on materials and manufacturing processes will drastically help.
Also, if you are doing a 3D model of the product yourself, I would suggest making it as if you were machining it.  That is, start with a solid block of material and make cuts to remove material.  Of course, you should think to yourself how this would be done on a machine.  This can be difficult, but could save you a lot of grief in the long run.

The manufacturer is the expert at manufacturing, you are the expert on the function that your product performs.  Have a design review meeting with them - they will make invaluable suggestions on how to tweak your design to reduce the cost and time for manufacture.  Be sure to convey which surfaces and dimensions are necessary to function, and which ones are not as critical. 

Best of luck, let me know if you need any of this answered more in depth.
-Andrew, http://www.producracy.com
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01 1 / 2014

3D printing is a technology that greatly interests me and I’m excited to see this technology evolve in the next years

Answer by Andrew Eydt:

First, I would begin to learn the CAD design process by downloading a package and running through the tutorials.  Many have trial periods in the 30 day range - you should also qualify for a student package.  The specific software package shouldn’t matter, but stick with one of the major ones to start: Autodesk Inventor, SolidWorks, Pro/Engineer Creo, and Solidedge.  The mental process is essentially the same for all packages, even though the mouse clicking syntax and menu structures are different.

After that, I would suggest gaining an understanding of material properties.  This will help you to know the capabilities and limitations of the 3D printed parts. 

Finally, a working understanding of traditional manufacturing techniques will allow you to appreciate the flexibility of 3D printing.  Also, in the case that a design does go to metal and is machined, cast, forged, etc. then you will be better able to tweak the design to allow for this manufacture.
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31 3 / 2013

Answer by Andrew Eydt:

Hi, if you’re talking about sharing drawings, screenshots, and 3D models - I’ve had success in using GrabCAD and Dropbox. 
Yes, keeping track of numerous design files, sales call notes, emails, invoices, etc. is certainly a task in organization.

Is this the direction you were heading in?
-Andrew, http://producracy.com
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03 3 / 2013

Answer by Andrew Eydt:

By startup, do you mean VC funded trying to get to 1-billion valuation stuff?
Sure there’s some, Quirky and OXO come to mind.
However, in physical products, there are many more people doing it as a bootstrapped lifestyle business thing.  Whether to replace their income, or just supplement it to make the Lexus payment, lots of people have their own product business - these are exactly the people I help out with my products, services, and contacts.

As another answer said, may of these appear on Kickstarter or Indiegogo these days: iPad accessories, Kindle covers, cat toys, coffee makers, watches, multi-tools, earbuds, wine racks, dog beds, water bottles, razors, travel clothes, etc.  If you’re part of the demographic and see a need or pain point in the market, then you can fill it with your own product.

-Andrew, www.producracy.com
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03 3 / 2013

Answer by Andrew Eydt:

The ‘Anon User’ has good points.
To continue; once you have determined a market gap or need, you have to get your idea roughly sketched out (napkin, paper, envelope - something simple).
Find a freelance designer, engineering student, Odesk contractor, or a web firm specializing in physical products.  HAve them convert your idea into a 3D solid CAD model.

Next, once you have checked and had the model modified, send to a 3D printing company - getting the product in had will allow you to further refine your design, take into meetings with customers, investors, manufacturers, etc.
Now the designer can also work on 2D manufacturing drawings to go along with  the 3D model and prototype.  Drawings, models, renderings, and photos/videos of the physical prototype can be used to crowdsource or presell your product - this helps to pay for tooling or mould costs up front.

Finally, approach manufactures (could be machine shops for initial small runs).  Whether you manufacture domestically (always try to do this) or offshore will depend on the material, manufacturing process, quality requirements, size, and predicted volume.  If this is your first time going off-shore for manufacturing, a broker is likely of value.

Definitely set up an ecommerce website to sell the products online.

Please let me know if you have specific questions I can help with.

-Andrew, Producracy - The Democratization of Production - Helping you create the product business lifestyle of your dreams
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02 3 / 2013

Answer by Andrew Eydt:

I agree with the above, for small runs a broker is likely worth the additional cost.
Do you have a model, or more importantly: manufacturing drawings for your product?
Be sure to clearly specify quality requirements, tolerances, and what qualifies as an acceptable part.
Do you have a contact in China to visit factories?
What is your expected volume?
3rd party quality inspection of the goods in the factory can be beneficial.
Finally, an agreement with the vendor that they will not sell your design out the back door is a good idea.
Also, will you be ordering full container loads, or shipping less-than-container orders?

Be sure to be clear and firm on your expectations - and shop around at first.
Start your search on Alibaba or Made in China. 
Contact me if you want an introduction to broker or manufacturer.

Good luck,
-Andrew www.producracy.com
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02 2 / 2013

Answer by Andrew Eydt:

Either handmake a prototype (or close friend since this takes sewing skills) or approach a bag factory.
Also, a professional baggage designer should take a look at some time as well.  This would likely pay off in spades in terms of usability, styling, durability, and marketability.
Finally, start talking with manufacturers, you have to have an idea of costs before approaching prospective customers.  Domestic manufacture is likely possible - otherwise, many bags are made in China, the Philippines, Vietnam, etc.  Offshore manufacturing is possibly key to getting off the ground, unless a selling point for your product is domestic manufacture.
Don’t limit yourself to just selling on campus.  Set up an e-commerce website.
Going through this process with a buddy now - I could help if this looks different to his.
Good luck,
-Andrew, http://www.producracy.com
Titter: @producracy
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