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What is in demand, that I could machine, for a little extra cash?

  1. Aug 16, 2012 #1
    So I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering, access to a machine shop, and all the free scrap metal I want (steel or aluminum mostly). I also make perilously little income because I'm just a measly intern. I have a stash from my last job that is keeping me running until I can convince my employer to hire me on full time, but it's quickly running out. So I need some extra money. The question is, what on earth do people need fabricated?

    My first thought is tools. I'm currently building a combination drill-press/milling machine that could be converted to a saw if need be. I could also get a chunk of steel and make a hammer or chisel or even a screwdriver.

    Any other ideas? Anyone know of a good market to get into?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 16, 2012 #2
    Some questions immediately come to mind:

    1. Is the machine time free? As it costs the company to run it, are they going to be ok with you doing off the book work for your own profit?

    2. Why make something that is low value, and already mass produced? Further to this, why would someone buy a tool off an unknown person, make from an unknown material?

    3. If you geuinely have access to scrap steel that is free for you to do with as you please. Why not just sell the scrap?


    Bespoke work is the only thing that would make you any money, selling your skill rather than a product. But are work going to be happy with you doing work for your own profit?
     
  4. Aug 16, 2012 #3
    If you use your company's machine shop and scrap metal to build and sell things for yourself you will probably get fired. That stuff is their property and they probably will not want you to use their stuff to make things for your profit only.
     
  5. Aug 17, 2012 #4
    make something kind of luxury/cool. like a nice machined compass. something consumers would dig.
     
  6. Aug 19, 2012 #5
    I saw some guys making nice smartphone tablet docks and then selling them online on eBay or Amazon.You could try that.Advice you could try to make docks for less spred/famous devices since there aren`t officila docks for them.
     
  7. Aug 20, 2012 #6
    I think the key here is to find something that has short peaks of demand, but not high enough to warrant the start-up costs of mass production.

    Off the top of my head examples would be things like Swords/Shields/Platemail armor for Renn Faire people and Halloween costumes (although renn Faire are way more likely to pay out large amounts for a costume).

    You could also hit up Cosplayers, people that dress up like characters from movies/games, someone with decent machine-shop skills and metal could make some very cool pieces, such as Cloud's Buster Sword, or a Red Pyramid Head & Sword, or Master Chief's Power Sword.

    Some people REALLY get in to Steampunk also, if you can put some funky brass-looking cogs all over a modern-day gadget, people go nuts for that stuff, GIS up "Typewriter Laptop" for an example. Maybe make a music box where all the cogs and wheels are visible, that'd be a big hit too.

    I'm really just spitballin' here, I'm sure there's plenty of other ideas out there too...maybe start an Etsy store (really cheap (free?) online marketplace, like Ebay for dedicated craftsmen) and see if anyone will bite.
     
  8. Aug 20, 2012 #7
    Oh yeah, and depending on your skill level and access to materials, I'm willing to bet that there will be a huge rise in demand for people re-tooling their old child's Power Wheels mobiles in to pretty much no-joke electric go-karts pretty much. Check out this quick news article about a dad that really upped the power of his son's old Lightning McQueen Power Wheels car:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/07/dad-upgrade-power-wheel_n_1751659.html
     
  9. Aug 21, 2012 #8
    This.
    This guy: http://www.atwoodknives.com/ has built an empire out of machining simple tools, taking fancy pictures, and LIMITING availability. Your manufacturing skills are not as important as your marketing skills.
     
  10. Aug 24, 2012 #9
    Also i should try making custum robot chassis,i would be your first consumer.I think it is really good idea,customer gives you schematics of chassis or part of it and you make it.Also you can make some really nice money on this.
     
  11. Aug 24, 2012 #10
    Great ideas all. Thanks.

    By the way, the machine shop I use is not the one at work. Work just gives me free scrap metal. I use a public-access machine shop elsewhere, for a small membership fee.
     
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