Becoming a Manufacturing Entrepreneur



Entrepreneur’s Business Idea Center offers a long list of manufacturing businesses that you can open for a small investment. From making handbags to aluminum doors, there are many exciting possibilities.




Advances in technology, such as the democratization of 3D printers and subscription-based manufacturing software, online outsourcing platforms, and online education all contribute to the ease of opening your own manufacturing shop.


The low cost of making things

Let’s say you have available space in your basement, and you want an in-home manufacturing shop with everything you need to make and sell products. lists 3D printers that are available for less than $1,000 each. If you have an original idea for something simple yet useful, using one of these low-cost 3D printers may be a great way to kick off a new manufacturing business. If you have a more complex product or part idea and more money to invest, there are a wide range of more expensive 3D printers and milling machines on the market, but starting small and adding new machines as your business grows is a feasible option.


In order to make products with these machines, you need manufacturing software. Autodesk has many options, from CAM solutions for tooling machines to 123D for 3D printers. Many of Autodesk’s solutions are subscription based. This makes the costs of starting your manufacturing business even lower because you don’t have to come up with thousands of dollars upfront to use the software.


But what if you aren’t in the market for a manufacturing machine? With the availability of online outsourcing platforms, you can start a manufacturing business without the shop. A pro account at Sculpteo, for example, gives businesses the option of 3D printing thousands of products through their online system.




There are a number of variations of online outsourcing platforms. Make Time, another example, is a crowdsourcing manufacturing outsourcer that can reserve virtually any type of manufacturing machine you need for your project. With a network of manufacturing factories across the nation, no matter the task, Make Time should be able to find the right machine for the job. With companies like Sculpteo and Make Time, you have access to hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of machinery without ever spending a penny on your own machine.


A fast-track manufacturing education




There are many ways to get your manufacturing business going without the need of a university education. Subscribing to the software you need and then learning about it online is a good place to start. There are also many free online resources that offer everything you need to know about using manufacturing software, 3D printing and milling. If you’ve ever thought about opening a manufacturing business, or even if you’ve just imagined how cool it would be to make and sell your own products, you can start your education now for free at Autodesk University. You’ll begin to see the possibilities and potential immediately, and before you know it, the ideas will start coming.

Al Whatmough is Product Manager at Autodesk for the HSM based CAM product; HSMWorks, Inventor HSM & Fusion 360. A machinist by trade, prior to joining Autodesk, Al was involved in the CADCAM field by running or owning companies that provided sales, services and created training for businesses wishing to implement integrated CAD/CAM technology.

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