19 months Precious Plastic
finally, our 2 weeks (per year) vacation are on the doorstep and I am happy to look back 12 months.
I don’t consider working for PP exactly special, it became just a normal job after all, just with the usual extra efforts of being competitive and ahead as entrepreneur. However, I will just throw the numbers and some little details into this post :
Work, work work
– in the last 19 months I have been most of the time in the workshop, nearly 10+ hours each day. Welding, lot’s of manual lathe & milling, plain metal work. Noteworthy was that studying books rather than youtube paid out better. I will write sometime more about (again 🙂
– my wife Anne does around 30 hours each week administration stuff, client support, sales, etc.. and the rest of the time also in the workshop. Without her, this rather volunteer like ‘activity’ won’t happen – luckily we had both a career and some savings – with c19 and a loss of 80% in sales, this savings have been our rescue.
– Beside metalwork, there was a lot of prototyping, community support, software development, networking, adding each day another 2-4 hours
As you might noticed, we always provided a good price / value ratio – much needed also to survive outside of PP with competitive products. However, after all, we figured we’re working for around 5 – 25 Euro the hour but still, no proper insurances, retirement, etc… most of the margin goes back into development, better tools, etc …
Having that said, we figured it’s indeed good idea to invest machines and services outside of the usual PP box. After thousands of hours in the machine shop, you can trust on that you don’t want to do this for very long 😉 First contacts and clients with industrial clients & partners showed there might be a better long-term prospect, soon more about with a case study.
– hundreds of folks received support – that’s indeed not always the more thankful job btw.
– the wiki/library still helps thousands of users – there is a major rework in progress and we hope sourcing parts and providing access to open source machinery will become much easier
– upgrades : we’ve updated the v3 line as best we could have done in this short time, among safety upgrades – mechanical and electronic wise; we also provided the plans for a more safe and ergonomic injection (arbor). there are are now hundreds of builds, copies and variations out there. For v4, we managed to design a much cheaper, easier & forgiving v4 extruder, at the end it’s just a bigger screw with more support for axial load – go for it :-). For the sheetpress, we also have some updates but we wait another 2-3 months for more iterations. However, as you can see – our machines lead the the top 10 in the bazar (traffic wise)
– with a few hundred machines from us out there, we estimate that we own around 20% of the non PP workspace model user market , in the EU at least 🙂
What’s next / trends
– we noticed increasing interest from SMEs, labs and universities, mostly for custom builds, more automatic & complete systems as well consultations – I guess it pays out to try being the ‘best’ 🙂
– there are new and interesting partnerships with OSE and similar maker oriented projects, more about soon; there’s significant progress happening. New government regulations also make new space for niche markets to help polluters to stay within limits – also there we have a new machine coming up.
– in Sept. we might finally have our factory hall, with 12 months delay but also there I am kinda happy to put now all the new knowledge and experience in there. We don’t know exactly what to put in there but it will be for sure a CNC lathe with live tooling and an extra spindle, a Haas VM2 (CNC mill for mould making) and some new manual machines as a shaper, surface grinder (I still love it) – possibly also a plasma table to pay the bills. However, we think we should invest in mould development which turns out to be the biggest bottle neck in Precious Plastic. We have also investigated a number of possible products and it seems perfectly doable to provide moulds for more requested products as you can find in industrial catalogues.
– there are major upgrades for ‘Elena’, ‘Zoe’ coming and a smaller sheetpress should see the light in Nov. (i hope 😉
Work harder, learn your trade, extend your horizon, never give up – it’s brutal hard sweat and bloody work – again – welcome to the worker class – nobody said it’s gonna be easy 🙂
Hey, Great Work!
You made a lot of progress in improving the safety, reliability, and effectiveness of the PP machines.
Yeah, the – what to make – and how to make it cost effectively (molds) is the next step to go beyond educational demonstrations.
I’m curious who your customers were (categorically) education/universities, government or NGO sponsored workspaces, or self sustaining workspaces.
Good luck going forward and thank you for all that you’ve done.
Yeah, thanks to you too btw. – to us it seems we’re rather at the very beginning.
We understand for sure we have to increase yield, get client success stories but also recover lost momentum (20 – 30% traffic loss since v4), participation within the PP project itself but just on another ‘project’ or platform, with a community & opensource/ethics first policy. Time will tell though. For now, we focus on a new project called ‘OSR – OpenSource – Recycling’. As I figured, as soon you want to make this serious, there is insane work ahead.
– SMEs : around 20 -30%. That’s an interesting clientel. Many of them try to opt-in recycled or virgin plastic. There’s lots of space for improvement, PP wise, for sure. This users are after quality first – mostly – every detail matters.
– private schools (aka extra school activities). Those are returning clients, asking for more
– NGOs – trying to buy container wise – mostly to fill in employment stats 🙂
– random guys, just trying to see how it goes – don’t hear back often from them – we’re happy to have a honest price for them too
– rare but happens: industrial clients, asking for very specific customisation (public space autonomous/vending shredder, or special extruders/injectors for special materials)
However, we’re of course honest with them about the limitations and some of the claims on the main page; in return we ‘loose’ around 30% sales just by talking a little about the general situation but most of the time they feel good, we feel good afterwards; no bank account has been crushed or a loan being taken 🙂
We noticed also other worrying/concerning issues as the traceability of recycled plastic in regulations; not quite sure what to make of it but it seems that there legal and technical problems to be solved first – at least to get this baby on the next level.
will keep you posted guys, after the summer – I try not to work 🙂
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