How do you go from tinkering with a CNC machine in your garage or basement to owning a successful CNC business? It might seem daunting now, but remember that every successful entrepreneur started in the exact same place. Building a brand won’t happen overnight, but the satisfaction that comes with creating something unique will be very rewarding down the road. Read on for more information on how to turn your CNC hobby into a functional business.
Where to Start
Purchase a CNC router: Choosing the right CNC router will be the first step in building your business. There are a lot of CNC routers on the market, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Some CNC routers require assembly, others don’t. Some are more expensive, but include larger work areas. Still, many offer payment-plan options that make them more affordable. Consider the size of the projects you’re making, the complexity of your template designs, and whether your router can work with your selected materials. Also note that while most CNC routers can cut along the X and Y axis, some require additional spindle attachments for Z axis cutting. If you’re planning on doing a lot of deep cuts, make sure to pick up a Z axis CNC router.
A few Common models:
Carbide 3D Shapeoko 4
- Materials: This machine is able to cut through medium density fiberboard and soft metals (such as aluminum).
- Work area: This machine comes in three different cutting area sizes: Standard (444 x 444 x 101 mm), XL (838 x 444 x 101 mm), and XXL (838 x 838 x 101 mm).
- Price: $1,700
- Materials: This machine is able to cut through wood, plastics, acrylics, corian, urethane foam, wax, and aluminum.
- Work area: The machine is 1,250 x 1,000 x 350 mm in size, with a cutting area of 750 x 750 x 65 mm.
- Price: $1,842
- Materials: This machine cuts through plastics, soft aluminum, woods, MDF, and acrylics.
- Work area: This machine has a 300 x 180 mm work area, plus a spindle that can cut a depth of 45 mm.
- Price: $316
Software options: Once you’ve found the CNC router that’s right for you, you’ll want to start thinking about which CNC software you’ll be using. Some come with built-in routing software, but if your CNC router doesn’t, check out the ones below.
Decide on your First Project
Once you’ve got your equipment ready, you’ll want to start validating your product ideas to make sure there’s a market for the types of products you plan on selling. There are a couple of ways you can do so listed below.
- Conduct a competitive analysis – Explore the current market and research your competitors. What are they selling? What types of audiences are attracted to their products?
- Perform keyword research – Having a good keyword research strategy is great for unearthing customer pain-points, spotting available niches, and gaining hard knowledge about how interested audiences might be in your brand.
- Meet customers directly – Go to trade shows and events where potential customers are likely to gather. Meeting customers in person might provide crucial clues as to what products are especially popular.
Build your Online Store & Marketing your Products
Once you have your business plan nailed down, you’ll have a much better idea of what products you’ll be selling, the characteristics of your brand, and how to target the right audiences. At this point, you should have all the information you need to start building your online store. Here you’ll be able to add your DIY CNC products, sort them into collections, and begin developing the visual aspects of your brand.
Since you’ll be selling CNC products, you need to strategically market them. Selling on platforms such as Etsy or Instagram might be perfect for an upstart CNC brand. Also be sure you’re directing potential customers to an email marketing list or social media profile so they have the opportunity to keep up with your brand.
Contact Custom Tool & Grinding
At custom tool and grinding we always make sure we learn new methods and so we can continue to grow as the industry does. This ensures that our customers receive the quality services and products they need. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you.