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Prototype Shop


Jun 23, 2002
Vancouver BC Canada
Hi rbo7565:
You wrote:
"Now you've peaked my curiosity!!!! I have to ask about the R&D that goes into freaky sex toys. Talk about a strange niche"

You'd be amazed (and horrified) at some of the pictures that land in my INBOX...the range of human perversion is vast and sometimes requires a willingness to suspend judgement over what some are willing to do to themselves for a bit of notoriety.
Think tattoos and piercings but carry it several steps further, and you will get a glimpse into what motivates these people.
These are mostly custom "Projects", pandering to the fantasies of individual clients.
The conversation with my customer usually go like this..."there is this customer who wants to..."
We take it from that start point.
There are obviously things we will not do, and there are obviously things we cannot do (having a health care background helps with these decisions).

I got involved with this through a friend who knew this customer personally and was making this weird stuff for him.
It got into the complex 3D surfacing in titanium domain pretty quickly, and my buddy did not have the experience and resources to pull off either the design or the machining, so I was tapped to get involved because I'd been a moldmaker and was comfortable making complex 3D surfaced parts.
Until I made the first dick shaped toy, I didn't even know for sure what I was being asked to design and build...that changed.
As I said, I've been helping to build his success for decades now, and he's fed his family with this for a long long time.

Interestingly he is one of the nicest people I've ever met, and you'd never suspect what his business is all about if you met him.
He's also one of the most honourable and ethical businessmen I've ever had the pleasure to deal with.

Just goes to show...it's not always about what they profess to be...it's more about how they actually behave!


Implant Mechanix • Design & Innovation > HOME
Vancouver Wire EDM -- Wire EDM Machining


Oct 23, 2011
lyons Ny
Hi all,
I'm looking to start my own business. As a current manufacturing engineer with a love of machining, I'd really like to run some sort of shop out of my garage with a CNC mill and/or lathe. I have some basic experience with both and some CAD/CAM experience as well, although I definitely need some more practice before going full professional with it.

Right now the idea I'm toying with is specializing in prototypes and one offs for other small businesses. Maybe some small scale production runs as well. Trouble is, I'm not sure how viable of a plan that is and how much work is out there for a shop like that. Does anyone have any input/suggestions? Thanks in advance!
I have to say I am in a similar boat. I'm a Mechanical engineering with a significant amount of experience in the aerospace and power gen markets. There is a ton of work out there, but you have to be willing to work crazy hours. I've started my own shop with a fadal Emc, which took a significant amount of work to get up to par, but now I'm making more on the side than I do as an engineer. Most valuable pieces of advice I can share; if you cant measure it, you cant make it. In addition to the machine, tool holders, cutting tools, you also need a surface plate, digi check, test and drop indicators, sine plate, joe blocks,mics,.......... it takes alot of work to make a reputation, it only takes one non compliant part to lose it. In any event it isn't cheap and takes a commitment to make it worth while.


May 21, 2022
Own prototype shop.
I was think of starting a thread too. So i will share my thoughts here...

Yeah man, i in the same spot, i have machines and knowledge but no contacts and jobs.
(Machines from tape reader era so they are not fast but they make the parts...)
As previously stated the trade has changed alot.

Many "new" guys buy older machines and doing prototype parts in fusion aint that complicated anymore.
I have been in the trade 15+ years.

I see these guys after some year get succesfull too and get nice jobs..atleast it looks so by instagram..haha.

I dont think i have much to offer that is better then what they do when it comes to nice billett parts with 2-3 ops but i do get sometimes tight tolerance work or my cnc lathe and some other wierd stuff but that is not enough to make a living.

Ofcourse i dream of smashing out billett parts day and night but so do 100 others so you and me need to find something else.

I do welding and maintainence work and some electronic so i think i will aim towards that . Atleast i can machine parts when a line is down due failure.

Everything would be easier with good contacts with people who hand out work but that i dont have.

It would be so much easier to make a living of ecu tuning cars and car repairs wich i have done off, but it really doesnt satisfy me as much as metal work .... haha

Sorry for bad english 😀


Jul 2, 2019
Thanks to everyone who posted feedback. I find it very on point overall. Best wishes to anyone wanting to start their own shop. :)


Dec 16, 2002
Pacific NW
I don't want to be negative, but realistic. Unless you can find a niche, 95% of small shops will not be sustainable in the future. If I'm wrong, then that is good news.
Back thirty some years ago when I started my shop in North Seattle there were at least half a dozen and maybe more small store front machine shops with all manual machines within a 5 mile radius. They're all gone now. Rising property values were a factor in some closings. Retirements were a factor too. The throw away culture also, no money in fixing a broken lawn mower that the owner bought at Home Depot for a hundred bucks.

I would say the lack of CNC was a major factor in the demise of small shops in general. I started with what would be considered a well equipped home shop. lathe, mill, welder and support equipment. I had never worked as a machinist though. After a few months it became apparent to me the only way I could make it was with CNC. Bought a small CNC lathe, that was such a success I followed with a mill shortly. That was a time when very few small shops had CNC, my niche was having the CNC's.