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I need to get a piece of stiff material cut and drilled for a project I'm working on. It has the following requirements:

  • 1.6mm thick
  • should be stiff (similar to PCB material, aluminum, fiberglass)
  • about 12" x 3"
  • 6 holes need to be drilled (all around 5mm in diameter)
  • will be making ~500 of these plates
  • material type is not important - just needs to be about as stiff as PCB material/fiberglass
  • conductivity doesn't matter - metal or non-metal is fine - my PCB will have plastic board supports spacing it off of the mounting surface.

I'm trying to figure out the best material that will yield the best pricing were I to outsource this to a machine shop or manufacturer of some kind. In other words, what combination of material and machining process will cost the lowest. I was looking at having a PCB manufacturer use PCB material (because this will be the mounting plate for my PCB and they'd already have all the tooling), but I'm open to use fiberglass, metal, plastic, or any other material. I was hoping that someone here might have done projects with various machine shops or manufacturers and be able to provide some recommendations as to the best materials and processes to use.

UPDATE

Just to provide a few more details - I am manufacturing a PCB and I need a mounting plate on which to mount DIN rail clips. So, the PCB will have board supports (which allow for a loose-ish fit) which hold it to a mounting plate (of some material type), and the mounting plate will have DIN rail clips attached to it. The reason for the plate is to provide something to which the DIN rail clips can mount to. I do not want the PCB directly attached to DIN rail clips because I don't want twisting forces applied to the PCB during DIN rail mounting/removal.

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  • $\begingroup$ What qualities does it need? conductive or not? heat transfer or not? $\endgroup$ – Solar Mike Apr 19 '19 at 6:48
  • $\begingroup$ What diameter holes? For example are the holes big enough to stack up the plates and drill through 20 or 30 in one operation? $\endgroup$ – alephzero Apr 19 '19 at 12:03
  • $\begingroup$ I just updated my question - approximately 500 units, heat transfer doesn't matter, conductivity doesn't matter, hole diameter around 5mm each. So yes, board could be stacked and drilled in one go. $\endgroup$ – Mike Apr 19 '19 at 15:06
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If you wanted to do 50,000 units, the answer is almost certainly injection molding of some kind. You could make what you are describing easily for probably pennies per piece... but it would cost quite a bit to set up the mold. That's probably not worth the setup cost just for 500 pieces. I think I would just go to mcmaster.com and search their plastics section to see what is lowest cost. Buy some big sheets and have a machine shop slice them into 3" sections with a band saw. Looks like you could get the raw material in acrylic for less than $1 per piece. That should be easily enough to drill holes in and should be stiff enough. There might be cheaper options, I didn't spend too much time looking. Not sure how much the machine shop would charge for the manufacturing, but it shouldn't be too much.

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  • $\begingroup$ I posit that if the material is acrylic, or even steel, then one should approach a laser cutting shop. $\endgroup$ – joojaa Apr 20 '19 at 11:26
  • $\begingroup$ @joojaa good idea. Water jet might also be cost effective $\endgroup$ – Daniel K Apr 20 '19 at 14:02
  • $\begingroup$ Possibly, but on thinn stock like this a water jet is a a bit unnecessarily messy and has higher starting cost, a laser is much faster in this case. So i gather a sheet of steel costs around a 100 euros (excluding shipping but ist more than likely a laser shop has it on stock) and the work about 200-500 euros so cost around a euro per piece. $\endgroup$ – joojaa Apr 20 '19 at 14:31
  • $\begingroup$ Is acrylic at 1.6mm particularly strong? PCB material (which I believe is fiberglass) is about the strength I'm looking for, or stronger. $\endgroup$ – Mike Apr 23 '19 at 17:04
  • $\begingroup$ Are you asking about strength or stiffness? Based on the question I think you are asking about stiffness. And the answer is acrylic will be considerably more flexible than fiberglass $\endgroup$ – Daniel K Apr 24 '19 at 14:28

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