Some background: I am working for an ed-tech startup and we are hoping to release our first product soon but have been hitting a lot of hurdles with our current manufacturing strategy. We want to produce 100-200 products to test our market before taking on more risk and going into injection molding, but we are running challenges with finding an economical method for producing the first 200 parts.
Every machining shop that we have visited have given us a quote of 25+ dollars for each set of pieces. It's hard to justify making that investment since there is a possibility that we would want to adapt our design to better fit market needs as we bring it out.
The solution that we have thought of has been to invest in a DIY machining kit to try and produce our product to meet demand and possible iterate on our product. Images on the parts that we want to create are listed below:
If anyone has shared a similar experience and has a background in manufacturing/machining and can answer the following questions it would be very appreciated:
What is the best material that we should use for these pieces?
Criteria: We are mainly looking for a material that won't crack under a lot of pressure and feels and looks nice. Options from manufacturers we have spoken with: Delrin, Aluminum, High Density Polyetheline, plywood.
Some challenges that we have been facing have been to find an affordable way of finding the actual material. Most machining places say that the material would cost 1$ a set. However, online, it is super expensive for a pretty small sheet: https://www.interstateplastics.com/Delrin-Plastic-Black-Sheet-ACEBE5~SH.php?thickness=0.250&dim2=12&dim3=12&src=adwordspla&thisisforcallrail=1&campaignid=225228743&adgroupid=37851262274&creative=153445283219&matchtype=&network=g&device=c&keyword=sheets-ACEBE5SH-0.25-12.00-12.00&gclid=CjwKCAiA4o79BRBvEiwAjteoYFOOMRTpCPiFcAvXJTgjU4Hdt35RKLWdvqlCamLzXVEZEi2BTNjJzhoCWBAQAvD_BwE&
Followup: Where would be a good source to find a cheap material to work with?
Are there any recommendations for DIY machine kits and what is the price range that we should spend for a machine?
Criteria: Our quoted price for 100 product is 4,000 dollars and budget for the machining kit is Ideally less than 1,000 dollars. Would it be possible to work with plastics or aluminum with a kit in this price range and still maintain good quality products?
How hard is it to learn how to machine for these products?
Context: I know that the process involves actually coding the trajectory and path that the mill is going to take to produce the product. How difficult is it to learn the necessary coding for path planning and how hard is it to learn how to choose the right drill bit for each task? Would we, as beginners, be able to create each piece with either aluminum or plastics and make it good quality?
Is there another manufacturing service that would be ideal for what we trying to accomplish? We have also investigated laser cutting and water jetting. However, It would be impossible to buy any of these machines.
Thank you so much,