My journey started with a custom fabbed mirror bracket. I saw some random brackets made out of all different types of materials so I thought I'd give it a go. So on to the bar napkin sketch pad, grabbed some scrap aluminum and started building. I individually cut pieces out on the bandsaw, filed, and fit. Then lathe cut custom bullets with threads and finally painstakingly tried to tig weld all of the aluminum together.
I sent the picture to a friend and he wanted to buy some. Ok, so lets start the mass manufacturing. I built 7 brackets which took a couple days and all were slightly different. On the lathe while cutting threads I messed up my measurement and ended up with 1/4 threads instead of 5/16. I didn't notice that until it was welded onto the bracket. Fun. After all of this my friend showed up to pick them up. I felt like that was a lot of work for little pay and they were all one of a kind. One of a kind, this means that if one breaks or someone wants to replace it they might be slightly different, like thrush parts. HAHA sorry thrush people! But its true.
Later on in the year, back at the watering hole I was talking to another friend over a couple busch lattes and he was talking about "Karl" in Minnesota that can make anything. This friend said "I just pick up the phone and say hey Karl can you make this? Karl says "Oh Ya!". A month or two later that part shows up cnc cut on the doorstep. So I said so all I have to do is come up with a drawing and he can make this said drawing in multiples? He says "Oh Ya" in a mocking voice. Back to the drawing board we go, this time equipped with a freebie chemical sales notepad.
These drawings are what I sent via text message to "Karl." Hey Karl can you make this to which he replied "Oh Ya". Great. Onto manufacturing. Three months later still nothing, Karl is no speed demon. I bug him for a while but maybe my project is too small I don't know. Back to square one. After some searching I found that if you had a cad file you could send that into some "on-demand manufacturers" and have whatever you wanted made. But I don't have a cad, I have this slightly more professional drawing than a bar napkin drawing. Where could I get this made into a cad? Finally found someone offering their services. I paid a 1000 dollars for this guy to draw cad file, make a 3d print and "free" edits. I thought it was a little steep but I wanted to see where this went.
A week later this guy delivered. I had a 3d print sitting on my desk. But now I had to have them made. The 3D print was surprisingly strong I thought maybe i could just use plastic? A Flash Forge 3d printer showed up the next week, onto manufacturing. Easy, I thought. Well, due to Covid everyone was printing masks and supplies were low. I had a tough time getting filament to print with. Printing began and it wasn't as user friendly as I had imagined. Anyways I made about 10 and bolted a couple on the plane. The 3d Printed bracket seemed to hold up well, but my ultimate goal was anodized aluminum.
I shopped around for a while to find out manufacturing was not as cheap as I had thought. I called my friends to see if they would buy them and ordered as many as I felt comfortable buying. After all if people didn't buy these, they would be worthless cuts of aluminum no good to anyone.
I found a manufacturer and voila, they showed up on my doorstep. Now, how to market these things and how many of my friends are actually going to buy them now that I have them.
I wasn't done there, I had a lot of ideas but I didn't want to fork out 1,000 dollars to this guy who whipped this out in an hour. Time to learn cad! Ya right! I tried the freecad program and went through hours of youtube, this program was terrible! Was this guy this good? I called the local tech school that taught this type of stuff and he recommended me onto a cad-drawing program that was very much more user friendly. FUSION360! Back in the game! Hours of youtube later I was fairly comfortable with this program and was printing my own 3D parts. Awesome!
I made a small promo video and listed the parts on another unrelated site that my brother and I had come up with for custom merch. My mirrors sold and I finally had a sigh of relief that these weren't going to sit in the garage.
Many months and ideas later I felt like I could put together a website for my products. I went to cropduster brotherhood and asked for some help, I needed some good pictures for my new site. It started slow but at the end I had plenty of pictures that I could use here! Thank you for all who helped!
Now that my site is loaded up with some products I felt like there was no reason I couldn't do what my brother and I did with www.thehoodwink.com which is our merch site. Customers or business owners upload their logos and we put them on electronic mockups for them and their customers to buy. At the end we share profits and the business owner can only make money.
I know that there are plenty of other ideas out there for this industry that are sitting on a bar napkin. Let's work together! Lets take that idea and run with it and share profits! I'll do the work you just collect royalties.
If you have ideas that are being custom made currently and think that they would sell, send me a message. If we come up with something and it sells I'll pay royalties for all sales of that product.
The list of possibilities is long but distinguished.