I am doing calculations on costs for alternatives for manufacturing this children's toy I invented, a puzzle where letters in plastic fit into wood.

I have been using a CNC router to carve subtract the letter shapes from wood and a laser cutter to cut those same shapes in plastic (with some clearance). I have a good idea of the costs involved in manufacturing it myself, hiring someone to supervise the machines, or hiring a service bureau. My understanding of manufacturing at scale is much more limited.

I think it would be possible to get similar and cheaper results by moulding Medium Density Fiber or Perspex. Is that possible? Can you think of other scalable alternatives?

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    $\begingroup$ The "how much would something cost" questions are not a good fit for StackExchange. Pricing information is usually short-lived, and it depends on lots of factors. Many of the factors are non-technical: lead time, relationships with suppliers, your aversion to risk. If you edit that part out, I'll undo my downvote. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 0:51
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    $\begingroup$ You're welcome to discuss costs in the engineering chat. I can share my $0.02s about molds there. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 0:52
  • $\begingroup$ @NickAlexeev: Thanks for the flag. I edited the question and asked about prices in the chat (which I did not know about). $\endgroup$
    – emonigma
    Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 9:07

1 Answer 1


You can certainly drive the cost down by injection moulding the plastic parts. It has a relatively high setup cost though. Acrylic can also be extruded. In both cases laser cutting is probably also much faster than you think. Just be sure to choose the right laser: what takes forever in a fablab can take seconds in a real high power laser setup.

Anyway you can die cut acrylic. This is pretty cheap to set up and cheap to operate.

As for the wood well there are a few alternatives.

It might also be possible to die cut the veneer but I don't actually know much about that. Actually it seems possible to die cut plywood and softer woods. Which is how puzzle pieces are made.

Then there exist mills that have multiple spindles. So that they would mill several of the characters at once. By choosing right millhead you should be able to do this quite economically.


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