Slow delivery inspires teen to make fidget spinners He now produces custom-designed spinners in a variety of colors.
In this case, you could say frustration was the mother of invention.
Kyle Grandmaison, 18, of Fort Wayne, got tired of waiting for fidget spinners to arrive after ordering them on Amazon.com, so he decided to try making some on his own. The project turned into a surprise sideline business and great experience for the design engineering technology career he plans to begin pursuing this fall at Trine University in Angola.
Fidget spinners are a hot toy trend with children and even some adults. While holding the ball-bearing center in their fingers, people can give the arms of the device a spin and see how long they keep spinning.
Some people believe playing with a spinner helps them focus on a task, while others just do it for fun, news reports said. <br>
<center> POPULAR AT SCHOOL </center><br>
Grandmaison, who graduated Saturday from Snider High School, noticed a number of Snider students playing with fidget spinners this past semester, often in class. It was just something to do while bored in class, he said.
He ordered a few spinners on Amazon.com and waited a month, but they never arrived, he said. Spinners also are sold at some national chain stores and other retailers.
So during spring break in April, he went to the downtown Allen County Public Library’s maker room to try making spinners on his own using the room’s 3-D printers.
“I was more interested in designing than spinners,” he said, adding he didn’t want the same spinners everyone else had.
He created spinners with two arms rather than the three arms more common on spinners sold in retail stores. His spinners fit more easily into smaller hands and into a pocket, he said, and he can print out more at the same time on a 3-D printer.
“It was just something that popped in my head,” he said of his designs.
He often started by drawing designs on scraps of paper at school. When he got home, he transferred the designs to his computer and made revisions. <br>
<center> OVERCOMING CHALLENGES </center><br>
Grandmaison faced some challenges: He learned the center hole for the ball bearing must be snug or the ball bearing will fall out. The arms of his spinners also had to weigh exactly the same, or the spinner will be out of balance and won’t work properly.
He scavenged ball bearings from old roller blade skates to put in his spinner bodies.
Other students saw his spinners and asked him to make one for them, he said.
He ran into difficulty with the library’s 3-D printers because the library sometimes closed before a 3-D printer completed making his spinner parts. The library would try to resume printing his pieces the next day, but it didn’t always work. Some days he ended up with half-completed spinner parts.
Depending on the size and design of a spinner, it can take from 25 minutes to three hours for a 3-D printer to print one spinner, Grandmaison said. Printing spinners in batches can take four or five hours per batch.
Grandmaison, who named his business SpinRat, eventually decided to buy his own 3-D printer. He found a deal where if he spent about $350 to buy nine rolls of plastic filament, which a 3-D printer melts down to make objects, he received a refurbished 3-D printer and another roll of filament.
“He likes to get good deals,” his mother, Sharon, said.
Grandmaison, who works part time as a dishwasher at Mr. Coney, also has spent about $50 to $70 to buy ball bearings, and a little more to buy a few T-shirts.
He earned nearly all of that money back, however, by selling out the 50 spinners he took to the Glenwood Elementary School carnival before the end of the school year, he said. He also sold a few spinners at the Biomedical Bash, an event for him and other students in Snider’s biomedical program. <br>
<center> SPINNERS FOR SALE </center><br>
Grandmaison sells his smaller, basic spinner designs for $8 each. Custom-designed spinners, which include a sunflower-shaped spinner he first made for a friend, sell for $15 each. He offers spinners in nine colors and often can deliver orders within a few days.
Right now, Grandmaison sells his spinners via friends and social media. About 50 percent of his sales are to elementary-age children, and the rest of his sales are split about equally between teens and young adults in their 20s.
He hopes soon to set up an account on Etsy, a website for selling handmade, vintage and unique items.
Grandmaison would like to keep the business going while he’s in college, but he’s going to wait to see if that works out.
He’s also grateful for the support of his family.
When he was trying to build up an inventory before the Glenwood Elementary carnival, his mother would get up in the middle of the night to reset the 3-D printer to make the next batch of spinners, he said. She also has put up with the little pieces of filament that seem to fall on the floor when he separates spinner pieces after they come out of the 3-D printer.
“Mostly, we are just proud and really impressed that he took what seems like a small idea and did what we think is amazing with it,” Sharon Grandmaison said.
And if the spinners he ordered from Amazon.com ever do show up, Kyle knows exactly what he’ll do with them.
“I’ll probably take the (ball) bearings out and re-use them,” he said. <br>
<center> How to order </center><br>
Kyle Grandmaison’s SpinRat fidget spinners can be ordered via email or the following social media:
* SpinRatOfficial on Twitter, https://twitter.com/SpinRatOfficial
* SpinRat Fidget Spinners on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SpinRatFidgets
* spinratofficial on Instagram