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.