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  #1  
Old 03-02-2019, 07:10 PM
Sandy H. Sandy H. is offline
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Join Date: May 2009
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Default New Kit Questions

I run a small laser engraving business and have an industrial (i.e. not a Chinese/eBay) laser. I have enjoyed the rocketry hobby since the early 80's in various forms and thought it would be interesting to produce a few kits. Having said that, I've typically been a 3FNC kind of guy and while I like seeing a lot of the creative projects people post online and fly at my local club, I don't know that I have the design aesthetics to design the next big thing.

To minimize wasted time/effort, I thought I would solicit the opinions of forum members here to see what might be an interesting direction to pursue.

My wife and I designed a novelty kit called the Snowflake, which is just a simple 3FNC rocket whose fins are - you guessed it - shaped like snowflakes. If interested, you can see it here: https://www.rocketjerk.com/shop/snowflake .

We started with something simple to get an understanding of the costs associated with kit production, the issues with production, packing etc. Overall, it turned out OK, but I don't think many people find it that interesting.

A few areas I have identified as being difficult, expensive or time consuming include creating instructions, sourcing decals and sourcing raw materials.

I hope to produce 3 more kits by May and would like to determine what the community thinks is most critical.

Please reply with any thoughts you have, such as "I won't buy a kit that doesn't include decals", "Instructions don't matter, we all know how to build rockets", "I only fly BT-60 or larger rockets" etc. While I won’t be able to address every person's desire, it would be interesting to see what types of preferences builders here are interested in.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Sandy.
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  #2  
Old 03-02-2019, 08:10 PM
Jerry Irvine's Avatar
Jerry Irvine Jerry Irvine is offline
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You would make more money with less capital and overhead expense to sell parts to other kit companies.

There is a company making printed plastic parts for common scale rockets. They don't sell the airframe tubes, motor mounts, or recovery systems. Just fin units, transitions, nose cones and other details.

Make sample fins for me if you want.

Jerry
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  #3  
Old 03-02-2019, 09:29 PM
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teflonrocketry1 teflonrocketry1 is offline
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You could just offer laser cut custom fins, like the Sandman at Roachwerks who only sells custom turned nosecones. Your customer base will be small for this offering, a few hundred people probably at the best.

Keep in mind balsa is not the only wood used for fin material, there is also basswood, birch ply, cardboard and fiberboard among others; having these materials on hand will increase your overhead. However, you will get a good discount if you buy these in bulk. Do you have the ability to cut fins from RockSim, OpenRocket, CAD or other files? Can you profile fins (diamond wedge or airfoil) with your laser engraver? Can you laser cut G-10 fiberglass for high power rockets? Can you laser cut and slot body tubes? How easy would it be for you to cut a set of fins for something like the OOP Estes Orbital Transport http://www.spacemodeling.org/jimz/estes/k-42m.tif ?

Even though I can make my own decals, I prefer kits that include them or minimally include a link to an artwork file for the decal or body tube wrap. For lager models BT-55 and greater I use basswood fins. For competition models I use 2 ply (1/64") birch ply fins. I prefer G-10 to 1/4" birch ply fins on high power rockets. Instructions are nice for anything more than 3FNC and 4FNC rockets with standard motor mounts, launch lugs and recovery devices. Plastic nosecones can now be easily and inexpensively 3D printed even in small (30 to 50) bulk quantities, do you have access to a 3D printing facility?
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Old 03-03-2019, 01:06 AM
BARGeezer BARGeezer is offline
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I have your kit! Bought it from Performance Hobbies a few months ago. Seems like that's the only retailer I could find. A very pleasant build, no issue with the instructions.
Only suggestion I have is that I would never have known about the Snowflake if I hadn't been browsing the Performance Hobbies website. So spreading the word would seem to be your primary objective at this point. Good luck in this business venture!
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  #5  
Old 03-03-2019, 01:21 AM
Les Les is offline
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I also have your kit but I have not built it yet.

My preference is NOT 3FNC rockets. I look for more fantasy/SciFi/unusual kits (which is why I liked the unusual snowflake fins). With a laser cutter you should be able to offer more exotic designs
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Old 03-03-2019, 11:21 AM
Sandy H. Sandy H. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Irvine
You would make more money with less capital and overhead expense to sell parts to other kit companies. Jerry


That's a valid point and something I would be willing to do.

Thanks,

Sandy.
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  #7  
Old 03-03-2019, 11:22 AM
Sandy H. Sandy H. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teflonrocketry1
Keep in mind balsa is not the only wood used for fin material, there is also basswood, birch ply, cardboard and fiberboard among others; having these materials on hand will increase your overhead. However, you will get a good discount if you buy these in bulk. Do you have the ability to cut fins from RockSim, OpenRocket, CAD or other files? Can you profile fins (diamond wedge or airfoil) with your laser engraver? Can you laser cut G-10 fiberglass for high power rockets? Can you laser cut and slot body tubes? How easy would it be for you to cut a set of fins for something like the OOP Estes Orbital Transport http://www.spacemodeling.org/jimz/estes/k-42m.tif ?

[snip]

Plastic nosecones can now be easily and inexpensively 3D printed even in small (30 to 50) bulk quantities, do you have access to a 3D printing facility?


I have cut balsa, basswood, ply, card stock and fiberboard with good success. Fiberglass and carbon fiber are a no-go on the laser. Profiling the edges is also not practical due to time/quality constraints.

I can cut body tubes to length, slot and cut complex shapes as well as mark the body tube.

Cutting a set of fins shown in the K-42 example would be no problem from a technical front. I'd want to review Estes current policy on using legacy templates to cut things for customers to be on the safe side, though.

I can import typical CAD formats and pdf's with no issue. I can re-create geometry based on high quality raster images as well if needed. I never thought to try to import RockSIM or Openrocket formats, so I'll get back to you on that soon.

Lastly, I do have a 3D printer as well, but it is a relatively expensive process for production in my opinion. I have been working on improving that and will hopefully achieve some success in the coming weeks.

Thanks for the input!

Sandy.
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  #8  
Old 03-03-2019, 11:27 AM
Sandy H. Sandy H. is offline
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BARGeezer and Les:

Glad you picked up the kits. I hope you enjoy flying them.

Ken supports our local launches and I worked out a deal with him to test the waters. I thought if they flew off the shelf, then it would be a positive indication. Having said that, choosing a 13mm rocket for the test was probably not the best plan, as it is likely the smallest segment of rocketry.

I'm hoping to prepare a few more kits to get in his hands, as well as populate the website and do some more aggressive advertising once they are packaged and ready to ship.

Thanks for your support!

Sandy.
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  #9  
Old 03-03-2019, 12:53 PM
BigRIJoe BigRIJoe is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Irvine
You would make more money with less capital and overhead expense to sell parts to other kit companies.

There is a company making printed plastic parts for common scale rockets. They don't sell the airframe tubes, motor mounts, or recovery systems. Just fin units, transitions, nose cones and other details.

Make sample fins for me if you want.

Jerry

Jerry does the company you mention have a website?
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  #10  
Old 03-03-2019, 11:01 PM
teflonrocketry1's Avatar
teflonrocketry1 teflonrocketry1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sandy H.
Lastly, I do have a 3D printer as well, but it is a relatively expensive process for production in my opinion. I have been working on improving that and will hopefully achieve some success in the coming weeks.

Sandy.

Sandy,

You might want to look at this thread on 3D printing:
https://forums.rocketshoppe.com/showthread.php?t=17185
Also visit;
https://www.rocketryforum.com/threa...-thread.150040/
to see the 3D printed parts I made for a clone of the Estes Geo Sat LV.

I have 2 x 3D printers I bought for less than $200 each and I can print high quality nosecones by the dozen for a fraction of a dollar in a few hours up to BT-60 size!

I have been considering setting up a business of my own just 3D printing plastic nose cones and similar objects. I am not sure I can compete with Kevin Cespedes at Aerobotix: https://www.shapeways.com/shops/ces...-multimedia?s=0
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Last edited by teflonrocketry1 : 03-04-2019 at 07:06 AM.
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