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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