$40 in electronics costs and around $20 for the chassis
and other hardware, my retail should be around $84.
These figures aren’t final; they are just a ball park
guesstimate that I can use to help in working out further
I will have to work out the actual profit margins
down the road when the cost of the actual materials is
more accurate. This is not strictly the profit margin since
I’m not including my labor, but it will do for now.
So, now that I could approximate the retail price of
the kit, I had a look online for other robot products that
were similar in size and features.
If my approximate retail price was close — or even
cheaper than similar robot kits I found — I will have a
winner. It’s okay to be a little over at this point as I am
still approximating, but that doesn’t mean a difference
larger than $50 is a good sign.
The next thing I had to take into consideration was
the components. Hard-to-source parts are going to be a
nightmare when it comes to production. Luckily, the parts
I used in the construction of my bot were very easy to
find. A majority of the parts used in the construction of
my bot were from DAGU. Having previously met an
employee of DAGU on LetsMakeRobots.com, I was able
to discuss bulk ordering and pricing.
If this wasn’t the case and I was unsure about the
accessibility of the parts, I would see if I could find similar
parts available in large quantities from a local supplier
before attempting to find a supplier overseas. Often,
Chinese manufacturers will produce the same thing under
very similar names but might not offer a warranty on
their product. Also, keep in mind if you were to need a
replacement, how long would it take?
Seeing as I made my robot out of cardboard, I
needed to look for a substitute. I opted to use acrylic and
get it laser cut for the kit. However, MDF (medium
density fiberboard) can also work well.
There are many places that can do laser cutting jobs
and most of these places have the material on-hand. The
benefit of laser cutting is that it’s very quick to produce
the parts needed and I can choose from a wide range of
materials. The downside is that if I wanted PopPet to have
3D parts, it would be very difficult to replicate
with a 2D medium.
Yes, 3D printing may sound like a good
option for 3D parts, but it comes with a cost.
3D printing is perfect at creating intricate shapes
that look fantastic, but the amount of time it
takes to make them is not ideal.
The longer it takes to make parts, the more
expensive they will be. Not only this, but 3D
Lastly, I needed to work out who I really want to sell
to. I had to ask myself if PopPet is an easy build that a
beginner could put together, or a complicated build
intended for advanced robot builders? Choosing who to
target is crucial for success. I intend the kit to teach
beginners the basics of robotics, so I need to keep the
complexity of the build as low as possible. I need to
reduce any hard work the customer might have to do.
One of the main things I want to use are jumper cables
(or ‘Dupont cables’ as the Chinese market calls them).
Plug-and-play sensors reduce possible errors that builders
new to the world of robotics could make.
Thanks to my You Tube presence, I was able to call on
my viewers to fill out a short survey which asked for their
age, profession, their willingness to purchase a kit, and
optionally their email address. This allowed me to get a
really clear idea of what demographic my kit should cater
to and, in turn, which demographic would make this kit
as successful as possible. Not only that, but having the
option to enter their email address meant I could inform
them of when the kit was ready to be sold, and be
somewhat guaranteed of potential customers.
The difference between those who succeed and
those who don’t in the robot kit business is a plan.
Planning out everything in advance not only makes you
seem more professional (an important factor for a crowd
sourcing campaign) but makes things easier. With my
final goal being to launch a crowd-funded campaign,
doing all the hard work now means I can concentrate on
providing the best product I can.
Now that I am reasonably prepared for the long
term, I will start modelling my PopPet in a CAD program
and look at the considerations I have to take when
designing robot parts for 3D printing and laser cutting.
Happy robot making! SV
SERVO 09.2014 65
If you would like to follow my progress and check out
all my other 3D printing and robotics videos, go to my
You Tube channel by scanning this QR code or by
searching Google for “Jaidyn Edwards.”