I’ve been custom designing toys (and not other things) for almost two decades now, as I slowly update the videos on CNCROi.com, I thought it would be fun to see some of the lessons I learned along the way.
Although you see lots of videos of me here at CNCROi.com doing everything from engraving lamacoids through annealing stainless steel and literally everything in-between, all this is rather simple compared to what I taught myself to do before I even started this company.
My first CNC was our ShopBot Desktop that, years later, still works just as well now as it did when I first got it.
Before that, I spent all my time custom designing toys and other items for people around the world without actually cutting and creating my own stuff.
For me, custom designing something like the architectural frame below is a “break” from doing all the 3D modeling and animations I do.
I started in the reverse order than the traditional approach people takes towards custom designing toys and other items, I went full into 3D THEN moved into 2D.
Not only that, I want from CNC router, which is endlessly more complex to design and work from that laser, to learn how to properly optimize and design patterns.
Without knowing any better, being entirely self-taught, I did the equivalent of running a full marathon before learning how to walk and wow did it take time to learn to run!
When I first started CNCROi.com, I literally knew next to nothing about metal, from raw material options through fabrication and guess what, I took the same approach as I did earlier custom designing toys.
I learned from industry experts, customers and fabricators and threw myself right into the field. The results speak for themselves, about half of what CNCROi.com does today is “metal related”!
Learning how to model in 3D is tough, the learning curve is incredibly steep, again, I taught myself, and it has played huge dividends for CNCROi.com and not only that, it means I can just as easily design for any CNC application, start to finish.
I’m not just a self-taught designer but also fabricator and finisher! Custom designing toys for 3D printers instead? Yep, I taught myself that too!
There is a MASSIVE advantage towards following your passions in life, for me, learning a new approach towards accomplishing the desires of my clients if FUN.
When something is fun, you put an extra effort in it, you take time to do the job right and you follow-through with the lessons you learned onto next projects down the pipeline.
Custom designing toys is where I began, not because it was easy, it really isn’t, but because the scale was right for the projects I wanted to build and there is an endless market for people wanting toys, hobby through corporate.
Toys aren’t just for kids, they are for adults who are young at heart as well!
To me, there is no difference between making custom anodized aluminium machine plates and business cards for one client and custom designing toys to be cut out of plywood for others, it’s really all the same and they are all fun to work with!
I think people get trapped into thinking that there is only one way to do things, one market segment to be served with a business and, for whatever reason, some things are above or beneath them.
I have completed with engineers from fortune 50 companies just as easily as the person down the street wanting a custom stamp, one had engineering DXF files that needed to be followed to a T and the other, a sketch on a napkin of what they had in mind.
Right now, among my many ongoing project negotiations, I’m working with a school teacher to develop their corporate awards out of live edge wood rounds and at the same time, designing custom metal furniture for a fabricator… and yes, I’m even going to make a custom rubber stamp for a guy in the next city over.
The diversity of our projects are astounding, and I think what helps me greatly is the huge cross-section of businesses, people and requirements which can then be fed into other projects.
I’m by no means an expert in metal anymore than I am in design, or strategic jig production or marketing or whatever is on your list, I just listen to people, find a solution and then move onto the next problem… picking-up valuable advice and lessons along the way.
During that time, I get paid to have fun with my equipment, I teach others what I know, and even play music using tools that nobody ever thought as instruments!
You might think that learning how to design and build a P-38 lightning aircraft has absolutely nothing to do with reading engineering drawings, but it helps to develop your mind to view things “off the page” and beyond what you typically would have taken years to understand.
How did I learn how to read and make blueprints? Easy, I taught myself!
Custom designing toys teaches you spacial organization, cutting them out and assembling them teaches you how to use your hands to build things and having customers with requests for projects teaches you how to communicate ideas and concepts clearly and in a concise manner.
At the end of the day, the number one factor that has allowed CNCROi.com to grow have been the people who taught me lessons along the way.
Do you know how to have a happy customer? Listen to what they want and establish clear expectations THEN follow through.
Custom designing toys from design to finishing requires the same follow-through, there are always going to be problems that pop-up, it’s how you deal with them that separates a good design from a great one and a happy customer to an evangelist for your company.
The above video is probably the EASIEST thing I’ve ever designed for my website, and you know what, it was a great foreshadowing of what I’m doing now at CNCROi.com where the vast majority of your projects are just like it, 2D onto a media of our customer’s choosing.
Want something custom? Contact CNCROi.com right now!