Keep your laser cutting costs down with the Ponoko Product Recipe
Product Recipe #1
Jill is a graphic designer from Oakland, CA. While riding her bike to work, she was inspired to create a set of custom-made bike gear-themed coasters to sell at local bike shops and in her Etsy Store.
Here Jill takes you step-by-step through the process she used to turn her idea into a profitable product with Ponoko. Making her coasters at the lowest price possible means she pockets a healthy margin selling to stores and direct to customers.
You can apply these steps to your own project, or you can download all the files here.
Laser Cutting Cost Saving Guide Part 1: Imagine It
First up, I needed a plan. A clear idea of my product, who it would appeal to and how much I needed to make and sell it for in order to turn a profit.
Your Product User
Take a moment to consider who will be using your product, and why. I had bicycle enthusiasts and their thirsty friends in mind.
Your Product Design
Rough out your design. I mostly tried to get a few ideas I had floating around in my head onto paper.
Your Product Materials
My coasters needed to look good, but also stand up to repeated use. I was thinking materials like black acrylic or natural cork. So I bought a few $2.50 material samples. I kinda liked the cork:
Your Target Price, Cost & Profit
Some basic research showed a set of 4 custom-made coasters retails for between $15 and $50 – with many sitting around $30. Working backwards, I calculated my ideal price points.
Your Design Challenge
Now you have your design challenge. Mine was to design a set of 4 bicycle themed coasters at less than $7.50 for making, materials and shipping from my Personal Factory. That’s a target production cost of $1.88 per coaster (75% less than a retail price of $7.50 each).
To summarise Part 1; Jill has identified her market, roughed out a design, investigated material options and worked out her design challenge based on a realistic retail price point.
In the next instalment for this Ponoko Product Recipe, we take a look at the digital design process for making a laser cut bike gear coaster. Jill talks us through preparing a file that is ready to send to the laser cutter.
Have you used Ponoko material samples to help in the early stages of your own design process? Tell us about it in the comments below.