Air National Guard member Jon Boggs designs and makes tweezers using leftover titanium, Fusion 360, and a Haas VF-2 machine. Read his full story here.
While stationed in Alaska with the Air Force, Jon Boggs worked as a mechanic on-ground equipment for planes. But, during his time off, he also repaired vehicles and large trucks. “I thought it would be cool to learn CAD to help with fabrication and welding for the trucks and to use later after I left the Air Force,” says Boggs. “I started watching all of Lars Christensen’s YouTube videos, and that really helped me to start learning Fusion 360.”
Now, he’s a member of the Air National Guard based in Connecticut and has launched his company Triiaxis to design and manufacture his own creations with Fusion 360.
Designing for every day carry
After Boggs purchased a Haas VF-2 machine, he began experimenting with new designs in Fusion 360. After seeing its popularity online, he was especially drawn to the “Everyday Carry” (EDC) market. Essentially, this consumer audience appreciates high-end, portable products—from flashlights to wallets and pocket knives.
Boggs created a folding knife that was popular with collectors and EDC buyers, but he ended up having some leftover titanium from the handles. He didn’t want to waste these small, square blocks of expensive material. With the titanium in mind, he started thinking about his next project and landed on tweezers that doubled as a keychain for an EDC product.
Boggs started modeling the tweezers and the keychain cap in Fusion 360. He was ready to prototype and manufacture it right from his own garage within just a few modeling iterations. He also decided to start a Kickstarter campaign—and was completely surprised by the attention it received.
“I didn’t know if it was going to work or just get lost in Kickstarter,” Boggs says. “The campaign raised $1,500 within two days, and then after 45 days (end of the campaign), it raised a little over $19,000 with 384 total orders. It was really amazing and a good learning experience.”
Moving on to keycaps
A few weeks ago, Boggs machined and shipped the last Kickstarter order and continues to sell the tweezers via Instagram and his website. He also began a new project, thinking about potentially introducing metal keycaps to the EDC market next.
He is now designing and manufacturing keycaps for an entire keyboard and more “artisanal” keycaps with figures on them, such as a wolf’s head and a sword in a stone.
“I’ve been making these figures for the keycaps in Blender and then importing the meshes into Fusion 360,” Boggs says. “Bringing it into Fusion 360 and then actually building the toolpaths off a mesh body is very cool. Ten years ago, you wouldn’t dream of doing something like that without a lot of skills.”
Fusion 360 fuels the future
Boggs is focused on growing Triiaxis and expanding to more machines, such as a 3D scanner and 5-axis CNC machine. And he knows Fusion 360 will help him to achieve these goals. “Honestly, I wouldn’t be here without Fusion 360,” Boggs says. “With my startup license, I’m able to keep learning, continue designing, and get my business going.”