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He “Prints” And Sells Parts
“I’m a mechanic by trade who likes to tinker with ideas that fall under the label ‘work smarter, not harder,’” says Joe Raway. “With the recent advances in 3D printing, I’ve been able to bring some of my design and manufacturing ideas to fruition.”
Initially, Raway bought a 3D printer to make parts for his remote-control car hobby. “I watched a few Tinkercad instruction videos online and taught myself some simple CAD techniques. The products worked, so from there, I looked for simple problems, like my pop bottle falling out of my cup holder at work, and designed an inexpensive product that would prevent that.”
After a few different versions, Raway showed his magnetic cup holder insert to friends at work and they liked it. “I thought to myself that if my co-workers wanted them, there must be more people who’d be interested, so I began selling them online through Etsy. I’ve had a steady gain in sales over the past year and have been keeping up with production and delivery,” Raway says.
Another product he developed is a rocker switch removal tool that he’s been thinking about for 20 years. “Before I got into 3D printing, I could never make those little tools cheap enough or make multiples that were always the same,” he says. “With 3D printing, it was simple to duplicate the design after I figured out what worked best. I built on the success of the rocker switch removal tool by working with a local truck recycling dealer to make multiple designs for different vehicles.” He now has rocker switch removal tools for Peterbilt, Ford, Mack, and other trucks along with Bluebird school buses.
Raway uses PLA Plus to make his products, which is ideal because it doesn’t need venting during the printing process. “The downside is that the sun or heat can affect it and break it down or even warp it,” Raway says. “I have a warning on each product I sell that lets the buyer know this, and so far, I don’t have any complaints.”
The actual printing process requires anywhere from 2 hrs. on some of his products to more than 10 hrs. on others. Luckily, he doesn’t have to be nearby and watch the printer work. “Once the design is ready, I press ‘print’ and the machine does the rest. After that I just hope everything goes well,” he adds.
Looking ahead, Raway is hoping to work on products for the agricultural industry with ideas from a nearby farmer or ag equipment dealer. “I have one tool to remove a Deere switch and other tractors may need a different size, so I’d like to figure that out and make more tools,” he adds.
Cup holder spacers start at $9.50 and rocker switches start at $5 plus S&H at his Etsy store.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Joe Raway, Lakeville, Minn. (jarhomeideas@gmail.com; www.etsy.com/shop/JARhomeideas).

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2023 - Volume #47, Issue #2