So the last week has been spent dom­in­ated by get­ting my head around mechanicals.

I had fant­astic vis­its to three metal stamp­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers, Diver, IXL and Com­pon­ent Indus­tries. All three were help­ful well bey­ond expect­a­tions, espe­cially since they real­ised very quickly that I wouldn’t be able to use them.

I under­stood that metal stamp­ing had upfront costs which were off­set by the reduced unit costs. What I didn’t under­stand was the scale that they work at. Stamp­ing is good once you want 10,000 of some­thing and really sweet once you add another zero to that num­ber. My pre­lim­in­ary work­ing num­ber is 500, so I have to use dif­fer­ent techniques.

The lower cost method is a com­bin­a­tion of tur­ret punch­ing, laser cut­ting and fold­ing. I have actu­ally played with sim­ilar tech­niques in a metal sculp­ture course I did a few months ago, I just didn’t think they would come into play for this kind of product. I have vis­ited a laser cut­ter, Bey­ond Laser who prom­ised that if I could draw it, he could cut it. I also have a visit lined up with AMAPRO and Cono­matic for Friday.

It looks like what I am after is pos­sible. I should have a much bet­ter idea on Fri­day but it seems like I am look­ing at $100-$150 for the mech­an­ic­als. This will involve more labour than the stamp­ing tech­nique and it may be worth look­ing over­seas to reduce the costs.

There are also some sig­ni­fic­ant unknowns with the mech­an­ical design that impact the cost, such as what hap­pens if you put sharp corners in the microwave chamber.


The other main task was look­ing in to using inverter tech­no­logy. This was less fun. Basic­ally the tech­nique is tied up with pat­ents, primar­ily held by Panasonic. The non-Panasonic inverter microwaves seem to be either licenced or rebadged Panasonics.

Being able to buy the Panasonic guts would actu­ally be ideal for me and seems like fairly stand­ard prac­tice in the industry. Fig­ur­ing out who to approach is not easy though, I have sent one email off and will see if it leads to a way in.

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