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Would This be Profitable to Sell?

mrplasma

Aluminum
Joined
Sep 25, 2020
Since I sold my business (Torchmate), I have been playing around with various projects using a very small CNC plasma set-up. One of the projects has been the creation of miniature (19" x 10") vintage motorcycles. I draw them, create dxf files, and cut them out using FlashCutCNC software. I have posted photos of them on a number of motorcycle oriented chat groups, and have been getting dozens of suggestions, even pleading, that I sell them.

I've been down the business road before (The Beginnings of Torchmate) and have no particular desire to do it again. However, it seems a waste to let something that might be in demand go to waste - plus, I enjoy designing these little guys.

Obviously, If I were to make them available for sale, I couldn't make them one at a time on my little plasma table. I would need to farm them out to a job shop, and order perhaps 50 or 100 at a time, probably mixed and matched. They would have to be plasma cut, as the .050" kerf width is necessary for the detail to be fully visible. They would need to come to me with all dross removed, and ready for cleaning and painting.

Let's assume that there is sufficient demand for them, and that I could get anywhere from $300 to $500 for a set of three. Could these be produced in 11 gauge mild steel and shipped to me for a cost that would give me enough profit to make it worthwhile? I would probably just prime them and let the customer do the detail painting. Leave the wooden bases out of the calculations.

Here are a few pictures of what I am talking about.

All bike collage 19 bikes 2_88 mb.jpg Black ShadowJPG.jpg Matchless single 500cc.jpg Triumph TT Special.jpg XR-750 captioned.jpg
 

DDoug

Diamond
Joined
Oct 18, 2005
Location
NW Pa
I'm afraid china will steal the artwork, and laser cut these cheaper than you can buy material for.
I've seen this with the plasmacam, it was sold with a suggestion that an
owner of their machine could use up their scraps of sheetmetal, and making very similar figures sell at local flea markets.

I knew a local one man fab shop that tried this, was a waste of time as other
vendors were bringing in containerloads of same made in china.
 

jamscal

Stainless
Joined
Sep 8, 2004
Location
Louisville, KY
I know you're mrplasma...but laser cutting is the way to go.

The laser can cut an .050 slot instead of the plasmas .050 kerf

(my plasma is set up based on an .080 kerf)

I'm thinking sell them on the bike forums and possibly etsy as a kit of 3 with the wood bases. You might be able to get some vinyl cutouts (basically the same cad drawing) to match in leiu of paint.

edit:

Or powder coat semi-gloss black and the details can be stickers or that can be hand painted.

and/or put a rectangle at the bottom of the wheels and bend back for a built-in stand.
 

Scruffy887

Titanium
Joined
Dec 17, 2012
Location
Se Ma USA
You may be Mr. Plasma, but this is a Fiber Laser world for parts like that. Kerf 1/10th of plasma plus ability to etch lines on the surface where paint changes color. Also depends on how hard you want to work. Maybe do what China cannot do. There is software to digitize from photos. Do actual cutouts from pics sent in from customers of their own bike. HD may even want a word with you about trademark stuff, but that may not be an issue if you are just processing a customers photo.
This approach gets you away from mass production and into one of a kind pieces, and I think that is where you will be happy. You do the full project start to finish, full paint, wood base too. Client get a completed art piece, you run their credit card for a nice profit. Maybe you only do 1 or 2 a week. Charge accordingly.
Oh, assuming you are sort of retired and looking for a hobby that pays for itself.
 

Doug

Diamond
Joined
Dec 16, 2002
Location
Pacific NW
Hmmm.... $300 to $500, whoa. I'm not a motorcycle guy. If I was I might be interested in a very detailed diecast model with moving parts. Something small enough it could be rolled across a desk top while you're relaxing and dreaming of being on the road on your favorite bike.

Art is in the eye of the beholder. But a 19" fairly crude cutout lacking detail IMO doesn't do it.

Maybe a smaller version like 5" to use as a paper weight on a desk?

How about making a few, have a garage sale to test the market?
 

Scottl

Diamond
Joined
Nov 3, 2013
Location
Eastern Massachusetts, USA
I'm afraid china will steal the artwork, and laser cut these cheaper than you can buy material for.
I've seen this with the plasmacam, it was sold with a suggestion that an
owner of their machine could use up their scraps of sheetmetal, and making very similar figures sell at local flea markets.

I knew a local one man fab shop that tried this, was a waste of time as other
vendors were bringing in containerloads of same made in china.

I'm afraid that unless we start to get serious about intellectual property theft from China a lot of small enterprises are doomed. The big boys can afford to sue and often also have political pull to get Customs to protect their products from knockoffs but the little guys are for the most part on their own.
 

Scottl

Diamond
Joined
Nov 3, 2013
Location
Eastern Massachusetts, USA
You may be Mr. Plasma, but this is a Fiber Laser world for parts like that. Kerf 1/10th of plasma plus ability to etch lines on the surface where paint changes color. Also depends on how hard you want to work. Maybe do what China cannot do. There is software to digitize from photos. Do actual cutouts from pics sent in from customers of their own bike. HD may even want a word with you about trademark stuff, but that may not be an issue if you are just processing a customers photo.
This approach gets you away from mass production and into one of a kind pieces, and I think that is where you will be happy. You do the full project start to finish, full paint, wood base too. Client get a completed art piece, you run their credit card for a nice profit. Maybe you only do 1 or 2 a week. Charge accordingly.
Oh, assuming you are sort of retired and looking for a hobby that pays for itself.

I like the suggestion but disagree with the comment about "what China cannot do". They have a lot of sophisticated equipment these days and with the right equipment there is nothing to stop a Chinese company from setting up a USA-based "shop window" to take orders for custom pieces made from photos. The internet has changed the world.
 

mhajicek

Titanium
Joined
May 11, 2017
Location
Minneapolis, MN, USA
Those are worth maybe $30 in today's market. Heck, I could probably have Sendcutsend do one custom in stainless for about that much, and paint it myself. For $500 or not much more I can get a real motorcycle that needs work. Sure, if you look hard enough for long enough you'll find someone that'll pay it, but those people will be few and far between. My bet is you'll never earn enough to cover your time.
 

Rocketdc

Aluminum
Joined
May 24, 2020
I wouldn't be too concerned about low cost copies or your sale price being too high. This is a niche product targeting the nostalgia of collectors and motorcycle enthusiasts so there's an emotional attachment buyers would have with your pieces and that's a good driver for sales. How big is the market? Who knows! It's something you enjoy doing and piqued the curiosity of others so why not take the concept for a test drive.

Sell them individually or curate sets, release them in waves to keep your audience engaged and make them collectible. I would be focused more on marketing a finished product instead of the diy painted version. You control the quality/paint imagery and your targeting people that value the creative effort you've put into the pieces instead of those trying to save a buck on an unfinished piece. If they want to color, let them buy a coloring book.

The other thing that stood out is the size. These read more as wall pieces to me than something taking up shelf space. I would even consider including a border that has the name of each model and/or name plates. This also opens the playbook for different size pieces. What if a customer loves the aesthetics of your designs and wants a larger 36" wall centerpiece?

It's worth getting quotes on larger quantities to see what the numbers look like if you want to scale up production, but I wouldn't be ordering any quantities just yet. Test the market a little and see how the winds blowing.

I'm not really a job shop, I work on my own products, but I've got a 5x10 plasma that's not running 24/7 and can knock out short runs if you want to get the ball rolling before ordering larger quantities. My shop is in Owings, MD.
 

Garwood

Diamond
Joined
Oct 10, 2009
Location
Oregon
Sendcutsend is awesome. I've been doing all kinds of parts with them lately. Usually they ship parts the same day I place the order and the whole job is done for the $29 minimum. They are like the Mcmaster Carr of laser cutting. For onesy to tensy stuff they get my parts.

OP- Your parts look like $20 flea market stuff, not a product I'd see in Costco or on Amazon.

I'd never have thought the guy that brought cheap plasma cutting to the masses would be making the same products as his customers.

Can you bring us some other useful process for cheap? Like plating, anodizing or auto bandsaw kits like the Tormach AF50?

I guess I hear this movie announcer voice "And now from the visionary who brought you the legendary Torchmate plasma systems, behold his latest: Kindling affixed, screen printed steel plate motorcycles!!!!

Don't make me lower my expectations for you OK?
 

jccaclimber

Hot Rolled
Joined
Nov 22, 2015
Location
San Francisco
One thing I don’t see mentioned is what your customer wants. As you present them they come across as a finished art piece. This could be branded around you, have a signature, etc. You mention selling them more like kits. Does your market want finished artwork, or do they want an arts and crafts project?
 

mrplasma

Aluminum
Joined
Sep 25, 2020
Thank you all for your thoughtful input. I came up with Torchmate many years ago. I'm now 82 years old, fully retired, and trying to keep busy. It may happen to you one day.
 
Joined
Nov 19, 2007
Location
marysville ohio
Since I sold my business (Torchmate), I have been playing around with various projects using a very small CNC plasma set-up. One of the projects has been the creation of miniature (19" x 10") vintage motorcycles. I draw them, create dxf files, and cut them out using FlashCutCNC software. I have posted photos of them on a number of motorcycle oriented chat groups, and have been getting dozens of suggestions, even pleading, that I sell them.

I've been down the business road before (The Beginnings of Torchmate) and have no particular desire to do it again. However, it seems a waste to let something that might be in demand go to waste - plus, I enjoy designing these little guys.

Obviously, If I were to make them available for sale, I couldn't make them one at a time on my little plasma table. I would need to farm them out to a job shop, and order perhaps 50 or 100 at a time, probably mixed and matched. They would have to be plasma cut, as the .050" kerf width is necessary for the detail to be fully visible. They would need to come to me with all dross removed, and ready for cleaning and painting.

Let's assume that there is sufficient demand for them, and that I could get anywhere from $300 to $500 for a set of three. Could these be produced in 11 gauge mild steel and shipped to me for a cost that would give me enough profit to make it worthwhile? I would probably just prime them and let the customer do the detail painting. Leave the wooden bases out of the calculations.

Here are a few pictures of what I am talking about.

View attachment 347749 View attachment 347751 View attachment 347752 View attachment 347753 View attachment 347754

A Triumph TT special does not have lights!
 

CITIZEN F16

Titanium
Joined
May 2, 2021
Thank you all for your thoughtful input. I came up with Torchmate many years ago. I'm now 82 years old, fully retired, and trying to keep busy. It may happen to you one day.

I doubt it will happen to me, oldest male in the family tree going back in the 1800's made to 72. The women seemed to get all the longevity genes, lifestyle irrelevant. My grandma made it to 99, lived alone till 97. Her diet today would be considered heart attack on a plate, with a topping of diabetes. Her sister was still hitting the local bar, in her
mid 90's, but did live with her son.

Good for you still seeking new projects in your 80's.
 

Jaxian

Hot Rolled
Joined
Feb 24, 2013
Location
Santa Cruz
Well...

First thing I would never use this forum as place to check a product for potential viability. In ten years on here I can't think of single product idea that hasn't been shot to hell. I mean I really can't think of anything that the people on here won't absolutely destroy with ever bad scenario they can think of. I would more use this site to see what pitfalls you will encounter and then plan how to get around them.

As far as your product goes everything that has been said here is a good possibility. Then again Louis Vuitton sells $100 handbags for $4,000 by the boatload every year. It's called Marketing. This is not the forum to ask about that. I worked Marketing adjacent for a few years a lifetime ago. You can position anything. People sold Pet Rocks. I mean it was a damn rock! If you try to sell your product as a straightforward commodity on price alone you are going to get just what people here have been saying. Don't do that.
 

CITIZEN F16

Titanium
Joined
May 2, 2021
Well...

First thing I would never use this forum as place to check a product for potential viability. In ten years on here I can't think of single product idea that hasn't been shot to hell. I mean I really can't think of anything that the people on here won't absolutely destroy with ever bad scenario they can think of. I would more use this site to see what pitfalls you will encounter and then plan how to get around them.

As far as your product goes everything that has been said here is a good possibility. Then again Louis Vuitton sells $100 handbags for $4,000 by the boatload every year. It's called Marketing. This is not the forum to ask about that. I worked Marketing adjacent for a few years a lifetime ago. You can position anything. People sold Pet Rocks. I mean it was a damn rock! If you try to sell your product as a straightforward commodity on price alone you are going to get just what people here have been saying. Don't do that.

I seriously don't think this is the type of crowd that would be much into something that would be considered
decorative art. I always thought E-bay would be a great inexpensive way to test market something, but also just as easy to get knocked off. The Louis Vuitton model is a strange one to me, while it is a quality product it is marketed as a status symbol which allows it to sell for way more than it is worth based on appearance and functionality.

I had a draw plus commission salesman ages ago who basically was a tax cheat just so he could afford to lavish his wife in designer goods. I think she actually had one of them there Louie Vuitton hand bags. He was in his mid 20's, his wife early 20's, not sure who she was trying to impress.
 








 
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