‘One person’ product design & manufacture

I came across this website tonight, and checked it cause, well, I have iPod charger kits for sale too! What’s interesting about this company and product is that it seems to be a stellar example of the kind of lightweight manufacture that is becoming commonplace.

The future is: a product company is a couple people, fairly adept at designing stuff at the university-educated level but probably not 20-year veterans. There’s no injection-mold tooling guru, there’s no power supply engineer, there may not even be a CAD person. Instead, they can scan online sales-lead sites like alibaba.com and find already-manufactured products that are very close to what they want, like say this

Within a few days they can arrange to buy a sample and figure out what they have to do to get it to work the way they want (say changing around the data line impedances to make Apple stuff happy). Then contact the factory through their friendly sales person and negotiate pricing for any changes. 4 weeks later, they have 1000 pieces in hand (a paltry amount compared to what would normally be considered a reasonable run, like 10-50K) at a few $ each. Design some packaging and stickers and they can set up a webshop to turn a profit within 3 months of the original idea.

Your assignments for tonight?
1) Spend some time at Alibaba (or whatever your favvy sales-lead site would be) and come up with a hardware mashup using ready-to-manufacture products.
2) A USB-power supply such as above costs $2 in qty 1000 and you’ll get it sea-freighted to you in 4 weeks. The extra tooling/hacking costs $0.50 each. Your packaging is another $0.50. Assuming you sell 10/day at $6 each, what is your overhead for a website (include all website and paypal costs) per month? How long does it take to break even?

Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Join 35,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community! http://adafru.it/discord

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Follow Adafruit on Instagram for top secret new products, behinds the scenes and more https://www.instagram.com/adafruit/

CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers – CircuitPython.org

Maker Business — Moving manufacturing out of China

Wearables — Zip it, zip it good

Electronics — When to opt for alkaline batteries

Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: Arduino 2.0, Podcasts and much more! #CircuitPython @micropython @ThePSF @Raspberry_Pi

Adafruit IoT Monthly — BBQ Smoker, Emoji Telegraph, and more!

Microsoft MakeCode — MakeCode Thank You!

EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey

New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — New Products 9/21/2022 Featuring Adafruit ENS160 MOX Gas Sensor – Sciosense CCS811 Upgrade – STEMMA QT / Qwiic

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at AdafruitDaily.com !


  1. I was curious, how did you know the supplier in China would do the extra tooling/hacking for $0.50? Perhaps they say it costs as much as the $2 product itself. Have you found that the factories can be that reasonable on changes personally? I’ve been looking at importing some stuff and doing basically what you mention, hacking it up and making it available to the hobbyist electronics/robotics crowd. There are some really great base things that are very hackable out there.

  2. i dont, its a guess.
    lets say adding 4 resistors to a power supply takes about 4 minutes (with the proper setup and tools)
    that means you can do about 15 per hour
    if you were to pay someone $7.50 an hour its $0.50 each

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.