Purpose: With the introduction of low cost computer numerical control (CNC) manufacturing machines, new possibilities are open for small-scale, low-cost, plywood-based furniture production.  Complex, rigid, locally produced furniture can now be produced using large format (4’x8′ work pieces) plywood CNC devices.  Entry level devices such as the self assembled Maslow CNC allow for repetitious, semi-complex forms to be reproduced with minimal operator input, skill and set-up.  An entire operation could be configured and subsequently manned by minimal unskilled staff. The primary advantage of this set-up is that is allows for low cost production centers to operate in regions that might now typically be served by designer furniture producers. Additionally the low initial investment, material costs and regional shipping, makes this furniture a suitable alternative (with potentially greater quality attributes) than low cost competitors such as IKEA.

Profitability: Without viability testing in a specific (initially large population center) it is difficult to gauge consumer response to the designs and quality of the furniture. Production of sample furniture that can be introduced to a market is considered advantageous to MVP and viability testing. Establishment of an initial production facility would cost less than $1000 USD plus the cost of rented production space.

Obstacles: Fortunately a wealth of popular traditional designs exist along with CNC production files that can be used to produce initial production runs. Material concerns are of the utmost importance.  While large format plywood is available at roughly RM 60 per sheet (enough to produce two desk chairs), this material is of construction grade (typically CCCC or CCBB) meaning that surface quality is highly variable and internal voids exist.  If repair of defects is cost prohibitive or undesirable, there opportunities to purchase higher grade plywood, but only in major centers or with high transportation costs (often at double the cost per sheet plus transportation costs of RM 150 per load of multiple sheets). There is an opportunity to form plywood within the shop (and utilize custom curved shapes) if furniture grade plywood is unavailable at a slight increase to production time. Finally, access to shipping and logistic centers in large population centers (ideally KL) allows for a greatly reduced shipping cost to the consumer and overall unit cost.