Moving the business forward

I’m trying to visualize someone buying a kit from a big box store like home depot. Or just having one arrive with everything in it. Sort of like buying a roomba.

We know how to solve cost of the challenges from including tubing, and a router and a controller. Making a printed manual would be hard, but possible. There are probably some manufacturing techniques to reduce the amount of tuning or fiddling needed to get started. If we had a big price and a large enough qty, we could make this happen now.

But once you did everything, inserted the sdcard that comes with it, and drew the crown in a piece of MDF, what would the user expect after that? How would they learn to do CAM or CAD?

This is why things like Easel are important in a higher production environment. The software and firmware are very expensive to develop and they are a key piece of the user experience. More important than the logos on the box. If you include networking and wifi in the mix, then you either need to do it perfectly right away, (think chromecasts) or have a lot of support set up to debug networking (which is super hard)

Also, the more professional and expensive it is, the more support you expect. I love helping here, and I know others do too. But we expect a little bit of trying from the users. If you had someone who expected it to be as easy as a dewalt table saw, or else it is support’s problem, then there would be trouble (we occasionally deal with this, but it is rare now).

It makes sense to want to open the door to everyone and get as many people into the hobby as possible. But there are significant costs to that growth. V1 has opened the door for a lot of people. But the cost/benefit just isn’t there (to me) for making this a mass produced purchase. Software development and support are going to need a lot of investment before trying to find a larger (less motivated) market.

Ok. So what can we do that keeps the DIY attitude, but makes it more appealing, or breaks down some barriers to entry?

More appealing: Demos, media, makers making entertaining videos that makes the process fun to watch. Competitions. Projects with instructions and source files. All good.


Cost, always. But not necessarily a negative to everyone. How many ultimakers were sold because people saw the price tag and assumed that meant it was more professional?

Replacing the screen with wifi chips is good, but I am a little nervous there will be a lot more people asking how to work their router. I’m excited for the improvements. I am also nervous about people being intimidated.

Reducing cost mostly means more people can accept the consequences of buying, without the guarantee it will pay off. I can’t afford $1500 for a cnc unless I have some projects that will either pay me back, or be valuable enough to buy this tool. I can afford $500 if it means I will be able to learn and enjoy the process, with a reasonable chance I can make some fun things later. Some people would be more likely to jump in at $400 than $500, for sure.

Too many choices: This is a constant battle. We decided to sort of approach it with a few basic choices, and also keep standards and COTS parts so people can wander in whatever direction they want. How many times have we seen the question of which controller to use? What about the size of Z or the router vs chinese spindle? If you can’t answer these, then you can’t buy/build a CNC. Having a bundle A, B, C gives people some choice, and they can also make a decision quickly, without understanding every pro/con/exception to the rule.

People are intimidated by electronics, firmware, wiring, or torque wrenches: Yeah. It can be intimidating. Most of us don’t even understand how big this could be. I’m sure there are people who want to “be in the club” but they are convinced they aren’t good enough to join. And that really sucks. We should be doing everything to drop barriers for people. Good docs, reliable parts, preflashed cards are all major improvements. This is maybe the biggest advantage the V1 store provides. That advantage allows everything else to live. A box that you don’t ever have to open, with connectors labeled, and wires with keyed connectors would help a lot.

Availability of parts, number of parts: This is very good, ATM. With the exception that people outside of the US have a harder time getting parts from Ryan, or the parts Ryan can recommend.


Sorry if this is a dumb question but do you sell anything on ebay or etsy? More sales channels would help, except I stopped doing business with a company that goes by the name of a major river in south america - they are horrible to sellers. Also, paypal provides competitively priced shipping options to all destinations including international. I would take a look at paypal for international shipments.

Another channel is offering some type of special deal to makerspaces. My local makerspace was very interested in having a large format cnc setup in their woodshop. The first question they asked is if I could provide lessons on how to use it.

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You are definitely underselling the performance. I said it when you released the primo, and I agreed with your rationale for doing it, but I’m saying it again. And I think you’re doing it while certain others are implying that THEIR machines are everything a cnc should be.

I think, even if it’s the designer/engineer/head-marketer/sole-proprietor making the claims, video is video, results are results. You can make flagship videos with known specs and construction to show what’s possible as advertised and disclaim and end-user’s mechanical abilities, printer squareness, pla quality, tubing straightness, or whatever, then point to a repository of community videos (like your YouTube playlist).

Tests are well and good, but where the glowforge gets ahead (imo) is showing projects being made and convincing viewers that they TOO can make things with the push of a button and sell them for thousands of dollars in their own side business. I don’t like the idea of convincing people they can do a thing, but it would certainly be useful to show the things that are being made by other people. A curated collection of generally useful items to start with, and maybe some general instructions that could serve as an intro to cnc and/or design would be a useful reassurance to new users, too. Like “At the end of this project/series” you’ll be able to do xyz".


I would love to find someone relatable, inexperienced, but willing to learn and just see how far they would get if the V1 bundle got delivered to their doorstep.

It’s fun seeing Ryan make a bunch of chips in 2 mins in his shop. But the number that really matters is the (nonexistent) median user.

I bet the results would surprise almost everyone.


An 80% assembled kit could lower the barriers of entry for a larger group of people. For the low rider 3 this could be a kit that includes a fully assembled core and the left and right gantry controllers, along with all the wiring to the control board that is installed in a case with a display. So you would have a complete wired assembly that you would attach to a gantry that you would assemble yourself. The sd card included with the kit would contain gcode for several projects that utilize standard materials such as 1/4in or 1/2in plywood. A pdf manual would suffice for documentation.

Agreed, I do think we sit in a fairly good position, like you said though The electronics side could be a bit easier. At least I see ways to make a bit easier.


I think I am going to order some and run them side by side with the SKR, or offer the TFT as an option. I am nervous about it as well, but I have two friends that have never owned a computer…seriously never. They both are finally pretty proficient with cell phones so I think the bases are covered. Oddly enough, they are both contractors. One just asked me today what is need to help him learn CAD!!

The fees are really really high. I could try but the prices would be higher. I am also worried it would encourage others to try and do that and I have been fighting with Ebay since the beginning. Yeah and Amazon is a no go 90 day no questions asked return policy, nope!

Shipping wise I get a bit better rates than paypal right now with shopify.

I am so 100% for this, but there are none anywhere near me. Tracy, CA. If anyone knows something, I don’t let me know. I would love to do some builds nights or something! DUDE, run some lessons, it would be super fun.

Cutting metal right now, I am ready to show people to go faster.

Oh, man, I love that idea. Feature a few more videos. We used to do that, I am in for this. You know what, I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, years back, so I just started adding every video. I think we are all adults and can not be bummed if I do not feature your video. Love love this.

A makerspace build night would teach me sooooo much.

I am fairly confident that would nearly double the price, and surely double the shipping. It could be done though.

Gcode for a crown carving or something maybe. Internationally wood thicknesses and bit sizes are different so nothing very fancy other than maybe a vbit carve.


Learning a lot I really appreciate all the comments so far.


I’d be happy to be a “makerspace ambassador” for my area (south central Wisconsin, USA), but I don’t know how you’d get the word out that the “service” was available.

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If you talk to the people running it I bet they would know the best way. I think classes and stuff like that are a big part of that business model.

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Maybe you could have an ongoing vote thread. Link a video in each post, lock it down to keep it clean so only you can add posts. Explain in the first post that whenever a video reaches some arbitrary number of likes (100 or whatever), it goes on the Playlist. Good way for creators to get some views, crowdsources the ranking, not being included right away doesn’t mean not being included ever, opportunity for creators to see the differences between their videos and popular videos, bunch of wins if I’m not missing something.

Maybe you’d need a submission thread as well if you didn’t want to take submissions via email or pm. Or maybe you could leave the vote thread open, we submit the video with no comments (the video should ideally be self-supporting for new users) and rely on higher-level forum members to clean up posts that don’t follow the rules?

Or maybe there’s a better way all around, i don’t know.


Some Germans did this on Instagram, I don’t remember the nick though…


Allright well, there’s more than a dozen makerspaces and hackerspaces in the SF bay area within an hour from your location. I have been a member of Sudo Room in Oakland for more than 12 years and am affiliated with a number of other makerspaces in the SF Bay area as well as many in Massachusetts where I have a workshop setup with several V1 machines. My west coast digs are located in San Rafael and of all things I met the founder of Autodesk at a makerspace that he runs in Marin county.

It would be great fun to deploy a portable lowrider 3 at one or more makerspaces and run through a couple of demo projects while making videos. I am totally down for this and I think there are number of other participants in the V1 forum who are located in the SF Bay area and would most likely wish to participate.


Something that hasn’t been mentioned is accessories. I am thinking of a bitsetter or joystick, and software is the hard part, but let’s set that aside for a minute.

The margins can be high on accessories since they are optional, and I am also thinking even if you never sell a single one, it can still improve the value of the base model because it is expandable. That’s worth something.

You could even buy a 4th axis from china, mark it up 100% and resell it, and the benefit is not primarily from the revenue, rather the machine is officially a 4-axis capable machine. (Which it is already, but it can’t be listed in the glossy brochure if the customer has to do 100% of it from scratch.)

The real cost is the labor in the software and documentation so customers get a reasonable experience that’s on par with the difficulty of the rest of the system. Whether that cost/benefit can be made to work, I don’t know.


If there was a package that was a 4-axis, a 2.5-w engraving laser, an easily connected wiring hookup, and a download link to some decent laser software, I’d drop $200 on it. I’m not even kidding.

For a joystick- easily $75.

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Now we are talking. The two nearest me closed, Livermore and Modesto, but you are right there are several in the Oakland Berkley area north and south as well. I just looked at a few. This could get interesting. Thank you. I might need your help getting something together.

Making one of your joysticks a project could be a good one. Gather up some of the parts as a kit and some sort of CNC / printed box to house it in. Although esp3d makes this pretty easy from any touch screen, laptop, tablet, phone, one of the reasons I have been leaning this way so hard.
That said milling a one sided pcb to mount some buttons and a thumbstick would be pretty slick.

I have not done anything with a rotary axis, A quick search isn’t showing anything super promising but Neil wants one so that is two votes. I guess I should look into this a bit more.

More showcasing what can be done, bare minimum add a few good write-ups for these things.


Okay I just order a joystick (well a couple to check them out). That and one of the axis wires should be all I need if I can use the top button for enable.


Like the idea of Accessories, performance upgrades beyond stock build (e.g. approved feedback steppers), differentiating Product SKUs, and consumables.

Can labor cost actually be an opportunity for Ryan to scale?

Customer’s labor has a value/opportunity-cost to them, especially if they need these machines built (and maintained…) to run their business. Is there a market opportunity there? How many hobbyists/business-owners like the MPCNC/LR3 features and performance, but don’t have time/interest in fully building, or partially building a machine? Do a significant number of Customers just want a fully built, or just want a MBMPCNC “mostly built mostly printed cnc” ?

Curious, because a friend of mine bought a V1E MPCNC kit ~18 months ago, it’s still boxed afaik. I printed ~half the parts for him, but he’s been understandably too busy with work and a young family. Offered to have a joint build session if/when he interested/available. Guessing a mostly built, or fully built CNC in his house would actually get utilized. Is this a familiar story?

Guessing one option Ryan’s considered/considering is to earn a per build royalty/license fee and/or % from authorized builders? Ryan could work with dedicated capable factory in USA and/or other countries. And/or partner with fully committed folks (“V1E Partners”) to do small scale test of this approach.

Example scenario:

  • Customer visits V1E Shop, they buy a partially built, or full built ‘kit’. Customer also selects a preferred V1E Partner Maker (based on locality and/or reviews).
  • V1E Partner starts communicating with the Customer. Confirming details, clarifying dimensions, job scope and setting schedule/quality expectations. Similar process to fiverr, you could even use fiverr’s workflow/tooling but would be subject to fees. However, using this forum, or something similar, would avoid those fees, and provide a fully transparent trail that would help mitigate/resolve conflicts, building trust and reputation between all involved parties.
    • Enhancements/upgrades beyond stock are offered/negotiated between Customer and Partner at this Stage (prepaid before build?).
  • Builds are tracked in a way that’s transparent/trackable/auditable for Ryan.
  • Funds to cover parts cost are released (by V1E Ryan/employee) to V1E Partner when they start building.
  • V1E Partner starts build, sharing progress on pre-agreed schedule.
  • V1E Partner shares their build pics/video, packages and send build to Customer.
  • Funds covering labor cost (fixed rate for stock build, pre agreed between V1E and Partner) are released to V1E Partner after Customer acknowledges receiving their machine.
  • Local V1E ambassador helps with initial setup/maintenance. Customers can optionally pay for Support/Extended service contract, Ryan gets a fair cut here too, as with any commercial franchise model.

Details are tricky, but maybe you could end up with a open model that scales V1E without having to do everything.

V1E Partner maker would be help support Customers initial ramp-up. V1E Partner would be aligned with ensuring Customer Experience and Usage docs, videos, FAQs are effective to help minimize Customers getting blocked/hampered by the same issues. Everyone’s aligned to help influence delighted Customers further evangelize V1E to future Customers.

I don’t know how to fully mitigate people abusing trust and making side deals. No idea how to do that for any project with a public hardware and software designs. Am hoping the majority have enough integrity that something along these lines could help grow V1E’s impact.

Guessing there’s more holes in this plan than a Repeat V2 Z stop, well almost. Cheers!


I have not actually had many, if any requests for fully built machines. I could very easily work with people to build and sell them. I just always considered them so non-standard that didn’t ever occur to me.

I had one international company selling kits, and I think they were gearing up to do some assembly but they stopped for some reason. I have not heard from them.

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After you look at the legality of this and provide a waiver for submitted videos a leader board on a couple categories would be great. In the military there are several areas we compete within each unit and then across units then eschelons above.

So, with that tidbit of a vision, start off identifying the categories; speed, materials cut, accuracy, depth, etc. Then begin the entry system.

Following the prototype/crawl phase of submissions, then it’s time to throw the gauntlet toward a competitor or a benchmark forum, maybe in a forum that is not under a specific machine but more a maker’s generic forum to get the competition sizzling! An xCarve, avidCNC, or a vCarve acolyte will pop up and take up the challenge.


I think this is a great idea too! Places like Thingiverse and Prusa Prints hold these all the time. You might need to do some outreach at places like Facebook or Reddit to get more participants and new eyeballs though.