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Thread: Finish Preference for 3D Work

  1. #16
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    I put "employee" in quotes relative to the CNC for a reason. Clearly, it's not a person. But if you don't count its time running jobs for both cost and profit aspects...you're going to take a long, long time to pay off the machine. It's also running profitable work while the human is doing other things at the same time, so it's very much like having a second person in my shop.

    BTW, I'm a retired guy with a retirement business and I charge for my CNC's time. Folks pay it and cheerfully, because I'm saving them time which lowers their costs. In fact, a large percentage of the work I've run for others was almost pure time using their materials. That works for me! And there is no owner's salary going to happen for a long time here...I am getting small amounts back against my owner's investment starting this past quarter, however. The rest is purely tax advantage if and until revenue pays out my investment and remains profitable after that. I price out stuff I make to sell independently the same way, albeit having to adjust downward simply because too many folks give their work and time away.
    Last edited by Jim Becker; 06-02-2019 at 5:14 PM.
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  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    I put "employee" in quotes relative to the CNC for a reason. Clearly, it's not a person. But if you don't count its time running jobs for both cost and profit aspects...you're going to take a long, long time to pay off the machine. It's also running profitable work while the human is doing other things at the same time, so it's very much like having a second person in my shop.

    BTW, I'm a retired guy with a retirement business and I charge for my CNC's time. Folks pay it and cheerfully, because I'm saving them time which lowers their costs. In fact, a large percentage of the work I've run for others was almost pure time using their materials. That works for me! And there is no owner's salary going to happen for a long time here...I am getting small amounts back against my owner's investment starting this past quarter, however. The rest is purely tax advantage if and until revenue pays out my investment and remains profitable after that. I price out stuff I make to sell independently the same way, albeit having to adjust downward simply because too many folks give their work and time away.
    What I figured out about all of this is that trying to make things that every Tom, Dick and Harriet can do (like purchased 3D models) is a very competitive endeavor and does not pay well. What does work well is having a product that is not easy for someone else to copy and fills a niche market. I did that for a while a few years ago, had a nice small product that was very useful, easy to ship, required no finishing and the user assembled it. Without much of an effort on my part I did very well with that product. But then it started to feel like work. I did not retire so I could work, work. A person purchased my design and he is still doing quite well with it. Something to think about.

  3. #18
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    Yes, I have my limits as to how far I'm willing to push things, too, and I'm not inclined to do much "commodity" work. I've been building a small cadre of "more regular" customers for repeat subcontract work (both production and one-off) and grab other interesting opportunities when I can. Otherwise, I'm focusing more on projects that actually interest me. I don't "need" money from the business because I "did the right thing" all those years prior to retirement but like being able to get paid for rewarding work in my shop. If that retires my investment, particularly in my CNC setup, in a few years, I'll be a happy camper. If not, no biggie...I still have a great shop to enjoy for the rest of my life as long as I'm able to enjoy it. But for those things that I do take on, the machine gets to earn its keep in the pricing.

    I don't use much in the way of purchased 3D models for customer work as I dived right into Aspire after upgrading to it early in the year. When I do use them, it's to speed things up and they generally get changed around for my own purposes. The exception has been some things like animals and shapes I've incorporated into the tops of the small boxes and on holiday ornaments I've produced but they are licensed acceptably for that and I'm not burning time to create something I can't sell for much money. In the past few weeks, I've been working on guitar stuff and incorporating some modeling into that, both for "original" components and to modify existing from some files I purchased to study and understand certain physical dimensions, etc.
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    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  4. #19
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    We are in pretty similar situations Jim.

    Sometimes I will run a purchased model just straight up for the fun of it. But I have been getting very good at modifying purchased models, slicing and dicing if you will. Modeling is interesting but it can really be time consuming creating something from scratch. Talking about organic stuff. I do quite a bit of mechanical type modeling with Aspire but do most of the vector creation in Corel because that is what I have used since V1 about a hundred years ago. Aspire drawing tools just seem weird to me after using Corel that long.

  5. #20
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    I never did the Corel thing...haven't owned it for about three decades and it was a different thing way back when! I find Aspire to be intuitive for drawing and design. More struggles are there with the modeling, but I'm "getting it" slowly but surely. And it's brought in a nice chunk of money so far this year, too. (I charge for design/modeling time which should come as no surprise. )
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  6. #21
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    I am a retired guy, but I worked at skilled trades and union shops all my life. I see the prices both on eBay and Etsy and did the same calculations. When I do take a job its a custom one and I factor in a profit. I have hobbies and grand and great grandkids otherwise.
    Retired Guy- Central Iowa. , LightObject 40w CO2 Laser and Chiller, MakerGear M2 3D Printer. Fine Line Automation 4x4 CNC Router- Mach4 ESS

  7. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Reischl View Post
    But in reality the machine is not "costing" anything.
    This is a complete untruth and the delusion that all too often pervades the converstations that try to bridge the hobby/business world. The machine is most definitely costing you money if its sitting there not working. Thats K-5 math. The machine is cash out of your pocket that would otherwise be either in an interest bearing account (1.5-8% depending on your station in life) OR (if its sitting idle) should have been invested in a profit making machine that is "not" sitting idle and rather making you money.

    The percentage of time your machines sit idle, either in your own shop, or down he road having a beer (I would hope your machine would invite you along for the beer given how much its costing you to sit idle in your shop) is a direct reflection of how much your "operation" is losing. If your "operation" is funded by some retirement income or a pension, then its not really an operation. Ask any profitable shop on the planet if an idled machine "costs them money" and they will show you an auction listing to get rid of said machine.

    A parked machine is most definitely not the same as a flesh and blood employee but they are no different than a spread sheet computation of is that "column" making you money? Or costing you money?

    The machine sitting down the street having a beer is costing you money.
    Last edited by Mark Bolton; 06-11-2019 at 2:47 PM.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Bolton View Post
    This is a complete untruth and the delusion that all too often pervades the converstations that try to bridge the hobby/business world. The machine is most definitely costing you money if its sitting there not working. Thats K-5 math. The machine is cash out of your pocket that would otherwise be either in an interest bearing account (1.5-8% depending on your station in life) OR (if its sitting idle) should have been invested in a profit making machine that is "not" sitting idle and rather making you money.

    The percentage of time your machines sit idle, either in your own shop, or down he road having a beer (I would hope your machine would invite you along for the beer given how much its costing you to sit idle in your shop) is a direct reflection of how much your "operation" is losing. If your "operation" is funded by some retirement income or a pension, then its not really an operation. Ask any profitable shop on the planet if an idled machine "costs them money" and they will show you an auction listing to get rid of said machine.

    A parked machine is most definitely not the same as a flesh and blood employee but they are no different than a spread sheet computation of is that "column" making you money? Or costing you money?

    The machine sitting down the street having a beer is costing you money.
    ROFL. With a philosophy like that I am sure you have exactly one dining room chair because if you bought a full set you could not be earning interest on that money. One chair in the living room for the same reason, right? One fishing rod too? One pair of shoes? One pair of pants?

    Nope, sorry, the fact is that for a hobbyist a machine sitting doing nothing is not costing anything.

    I knew someone would come along and toss in the "investment" angle. It was just a matter of time. I guess I will cut down to one lamp in the house because I have several doing nothing in other rooms and I could have that money invested earning me money.

    BTW, there is no "bridge" between the hobby world and the business world. The biz guys are annoyed because some of them view a hobbyist as driving down their prices, as this thread nicely illustrates.
    Last edited by Ted Reischl; 06-11-2019 at 5:34 PM.

  9. #24
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    Ted, I was more or less making the same point as Mark earlier in this thread. But both of our responses were as business users, not hobby users. But the premise still holds true for part-time businesses if the machine was acquired for the purpose of supporting that business. Of course, it's a little more complicated in a sense for part time businesses who are also pursuing hobby work. So I will agree with you that from the standpoint of hobby use, the machine isn't "costing" anything sitting there unused on an ongoing basis. But once business use is introduced...that is no longer true.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  10. #25
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    The latter part of this thread brings up a good point. The difference between commercial and non commercial users. I specifically do not use the term hobby because over the years, that term has been assigned a negative connotation by some that don't belong to the group. There are differences of use, in both time and frequency, differences in cost, and maybe more importantly, how that cost is "justified".

    The two groups do not work the same way, they do not think the same and in many cases do not "pay" the same. And, since I instruct a good number of both groups each year, explaining those differences to the students often helps them do better in their respective endeavors.

    What is the difference? Simple. If you walk into that room or building where the tool (or tools) is located and that is where virtually all your income is generated, you are a commercial user. If you receive income from another source, most likely you are not. Of course there are some crossover conditions, but for the most part, until a full commercial enterprise has been established, it is non-commercial. There is a distinct difference between lets say a pro golfer and a retired banker that picks up a grand a month on the links. Or between a pro landscape company and a guy with a riding lawnmower that cuts his neighbors lawns for cash. And just like that banker or mower, most non-commercial users execute their hobby for enjoyment.

    Don't get confused, because many noncommercial operations generate good dollars, just as many commercial ones don't generate the funds to support themselves. Its not just about the dollars, its the thought process. The two groups cannot think like. They have virtually nothing in common other than the tools to execute the job at hand. And the big one.... most non-commercial users are not supporting the government and local economy thru a myriad of licenses, fees and taxes. Which makes it easy to assume you actually make money when you are not. There is immensely more pressure on commercial users, which often takes the fun out of it. That fun must be replaced by the euphoria of profits and/or success.

    To a non-commercial user the journey, or the process of completing the project, is the reward. To the commercial user, it is the destination, getting it complete and therefore being paid is the reward. To the former, there is no reason to "push" to completion, just the opposite for the latter.

    The bad part is that commercial users often allude to lesser skills when referring to the other group, which is totally untrue. Don't get me wrong, the untrained from both groups are equally unknowing, so blame that on being new. In many cases commercial users end up being "one trick ponies" and even tho they can run a machine well (due to frequency) they have a limited range of talent that covers the product or products that they mfgr. A good number of non commercial users, especially those that are addicted to the CNC craft, are constantly experimenting and become far better practitioners than most of the commercial guys. Possibly better at more types of bits, more types of materials, more types of toolpath operations. Beyond a shadow of a doubt more time to spend in a given design software.

    The difference is not in the skills, not in the amount spent on the machine or the products cut, it is in the thought process. The two groups simply cannot think alike due to the difference in their goals; the journey vs. the destination. Like liberals vs. conservatives. Different, period. Remember God placed both on this rock to balance each other out by not letting one ideology go too far to an extreme.

    Like a teeter-totter. More one kid moves to an end, the other must move to the other end to balance. Smart kids figure out that it goes smoother, quicker and takes much less effort when we are both close to the middle.
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  11. #26
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    I got what Jim meant by employee without the need to qualify it with quotes. A CNC gives you the ability to multiply yourself. This is how you make a profit, which to the 'employee your whole life' brain doesn't compute. Profit is outside of time/labor exchange, and is a necessary part of growing a business. As an employee working for a business, that business makes a profit off of you. That's why you never get paid what you think you're worth as an employee. You trade your sovereignty for security of a pay check - and there's nothing wrong with that, as long as you realize everything in life has a price.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Reischl View Post
    The biz guys are annoyed because some of them view a hobbyist as driving down their prices, as this thread nicely illustrates.
    That's only partly right. Most, but certainly not all, 'hobbyists' who sell their wares, do poor work and make excuses for their work and offer it at rock bottom prices because it doesn't really matter because they're...retired...part time...just starting out...not my real job...fill in any excuse that absolves them of accountability - as it relates to selling product. I take a look at the work most proudly post (even veterans the herd thinks are on the level) on some of the CNC forums and shudder. I'd be embarrassed to post that stuff. It would be on the firewood pile or hanging on the wall of shame as a reminder not to do that again.

    Customers get the impression that the shoddy junk they offer is the yardstick for CNC work. There are enough horror stories I've heard from customers when they are blown away by the quality a professional shop delivers. Sorry - cutting 3D clipart trinkets just isn't the same as building custom relief models from scratch, interacting with the customer and cutting them to match a blueprint. No professional CNC shop worth their salt sources their material from a big box store. Sorry...shmucky retail prices are for hobbyists and not professionals, who get better material at better prices, and materials you can't get 'in public'.

    There seems to be this progressive idea that money magically comes in on the 1st of every month...It doesn't for those running a shop. An idle machine DOES cost you money when you are in business. How? If nothing else, square footage in a work space that you are paying rent on every month, heating/cooling to keep that equipment from rusting/oxidizing, the minimal electric bill of at least $150 (sometimes more w/3ph), not to mention the nut on the machine (and software licensing) if you bought something that is made for commercial or industrial cutting and not some cobbled together home built machine. Hobby guys can and often do take a cavalier attitude regarding CNC work because they don't have any real overhead and no real skin in the game. The blasé attitude extends to nearly everything they do, since it is just a hobby, so there's always an out for not doing top quality work.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with any hobby, including fooling around with cutting clipart trinkets in your garage...but let's not be delusional by equating the needs and modus operandi of a professional shop with those of these self proclaimed weekend 'warriors'. In the real world, a professional shop is responsible for employee's wages (which means their family), health insurance (only $12k/yr, per person), building/equipment/office maintenance and everything else you get the privilege of shelling out for because you aren't on the federal dole or a pensioner - not to mention doing quality work with NO EXCUSES so the customers actually come back again.

    A hobbyist and a professional are two different things. There's never a situation in a professional shop where you're kicked back drinking a beer by your CNC watching Judge Judy. I might enjoy ripping down the 1/4 with my race car on test and tune or the weekend, as a hobbyist, but I'm not spouting off to people in the pits and thumping my chest that I am on par with a professional race car driver that does this to feed his family. Why? Because they'd laugh straight in your face and call bs. Same with CNC work...or any trade work...but you can't do that on a forum because everyone is so easily offended. It is an insult to say that professionals, who take their work seriously are the same as the guys leaning on glory days, arguing about whether Depot or Lowes has the better pine for cutting out a - imagine this - Harley logo...give me a break. Most professionals are not represented on the forums because they're too busy working or their IQ doesn't go low enough for some of the whacked out discussions going on...or they simply don't have the patience for mob rule stupidity anymore.

    Now, back to the subject at hand - OP, I wouldn't waste your time trying to compete with other places selling relief panels et al. It will be like the cabinet business where you compete for pennies or junk from China drops the bottom out of the market. You need to find a niche, play, play, play in the software, at the machine etc - and carve out a little specialty for yourself. ABOVE ALL - FIND OUT WHAT YOU ARE CAPABLE OF! ~ Nobody knows until you do the work and push your own limits - and break through. It doesn't matter WHAT you do - just be the BEST at it. There is ALWAYS room for the best in ANY market. Even with down-turns, they still sold exotic vehicles, Rolex watches and other luxury items...in some cases breaking sales records. Do what YOU love doing - and be the best at it. The money will follow. Do NOT look at what everyone else is doing - only as an exercise in what not to do.

    There's no set formula for success, other than to do your best and give the customer more than they paid for. Read some Dale Carnegie to get your mind right for success and to erase the damage the school system did to it. Dream big, make a plan...then go get it. Nobody has any more answers regarding your business than you - I know that isn't much consolation, but...you're the expert in that regard. It is YOUR dream/aspiration/projection isn't it? A mentor can be helpful in helping you learn to steer your decisions in the right direction, while being true to your dream. Ask someone who you respect, that is more successful than you, to be your mentor. Make no mistake, running your own gig is hard work, but you can do it at your pace, as the work allows, and it can be very rewarding. The trick is to get paid to play. Feel free to PM or email me if you would like to discuss in private. Either way, I wish you good luck in your pursuit.
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  12. #27
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    Gary and Brady's posts should be required reading for anyone who aspires to get into the business.

  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brady Watson View Post
    .......

    That's only partly right. Most, but certainly not all, 'hobbyists' who sell their wares, do poor work and make excuses for their work and offer it at rock bottom prices because it doesn't really matter because they're...retired...part time...just starting out...not my real job...fill in any excuse that absolves them of accountability - as it relates to selling product. I take a look at the work most proudly post (even veterans the herd thinks are on the level) on some of the CNC forums and shudder. I'd be embarrassed to post that stuff. It would be on the firewood pile or hanging on the wall of shame as a reminder not to do that again.

    Customers get the impression that the shoddy junk they offer is the yardstick for CNC work. There are enough horror stories I've heard from customers when they are blown away by the quality a professional shop delivers. Sorry - cutting 3D clipart trinkets just isn't the same as building custom relief models from scratch, interacting with the customer and cutting them to match a blueprint. No professional CNC shop worth their salt sources their material from a big box store. Sorry...shmucky retail prices are for hobbyists and not professionals, who get better material at better prices, and materials you can't get 'in public'.

    There seems to be this progressive idea that money magically comes in on the 1st of every month...It doesn't for those running a shop. An idle machine DOES cost you money when you are in business. How? If nothing else, square footage in a work space that you are paying rent on every month, heating/cooling to keep that equipment from rusting/oxidizing, the minimal electric bill of at least $150 (sometimes more w/3ph), not to mention the nut on the machine (and software licensing) if you bought something that is made for commercial or industrial cutting and not some cobbled together home built machine. Hobby guys can and often do take a cavalier attitude regarding CNC work because they don't have any real overhead and no real skin in the game. The blasé attitude extends to nearly everything they do, since it is just a hobby, so there's always an out for not doing top quality work.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with any hobby, including fooling around with cutting clipart trinkets in your garage...but let's not be delusional by equating the needs and modus operandi of a professional shop with those of these self proclaimed weekend 'warriors'. In the real world, a professional shop is responsible for employee's wages (which means their family), health insurance (only $12k/yr, per person), building/equipment/office maintenance and everything else you get the privilege of shelling out for because you aren't on the federal dole or a pensioner - not to mention doing quality work with NO EXCUSES so the customers actually come back again.

    A hobbyist and a professional are two different things. There's never a situation in a professional shop where you're kicked back drinking a beer by your CNC watching Judge Judy. I might enjoy ripping down the 1/4 with my race car on test and tune or the weekend, as a hobbyist, but I'm not spouting off to people in the pits and thumping my chest that I am on par with a professional race car driver that does this to feed his family. Why? Because they'd laugh straight in your face and call bs. Same with CNC work...or any trade work...but you can't do that on a forum because everyone is so easily offended. It is an insult to say that professionals, who take their work seriously are the same as the guys leaning on glory days, arguing about whether Depot or Lowes has the better pine for cutting out a - imagine this - Harley logo...give me a break. Most professionals are not represented on the forums because they're too busy working or their IQ doesn't go low enough for some of the whacked out discussions going on...or they simply don't have the patience for mob rule stupidity anymore.

    ........
    Just WOW! Any other group of folks you would like to insult?

  14. #29
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    Ditto wow. I just want to add, being, thinking or calling yourself a professional does not mean you do good work. Charging a lot for what you do does not define you as a professional. I have seen hobby people do much higher quality work than some so called professional doing shoddy work.
    I am a professional electrician and also was a highly paid professional commercial HVAC/R guy working on some multi million dollar jobs, yet I sure do not put down the folks on here who asked questions and I was able to help them out.... yet they were professionals in another trade.

    And this was best of all.. Most professionals are not represented on the forums because they're too busy working or their IQ doesn't go low enough for some of the whacked out discussions going on...or they simply don't have the patience for mob rule stupidity anymore.
    Last edited by Bill George; 06-12-2019 at 12:44 PM.
    Retired Guy- Central Iowa. , LightObject 40w CO2 Laser and Chiller, MakerGear M2 3D Printer. Fine Line Automation 4x4 CNC Router- Mach4 ESS

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    This is something that's plagued my own ETSY store...my prices which are more than fair given premium materials and my time are vastly undercut by so many other folks who are selling for next to nothing. It's frustrating for sure. I've honestly stopped making stuff outside of commissioned work because I don't like spinning my wheels nor will I give my time away. I'd rather make things for myself to enjoy than do that.
    Jim, I think what you and everyone else are seeing, is caused by a couple of generations of people who don’t know what good quality is and don’t appreciate good craftsmanship. All they care about is price.
    “Pay no attention to what you cannot control..” Epictetus, 100 A.D.
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