(As reference please see the Isophthalic Resin thread found in this Materials Forum.)
To my new Friend in NZ ... and anyone else experienced in these matters.
Would you all share some or your shop practices with me?
I operate and one-man industrial design consultancy. I design and develop new products and usually end up fabricating one or two prototypes of them for my clients... mostly combinations of stamped steel and injection molded components. And that's usually where it ends. The design package is delivered to the client and they locate vendors to manufacture the various components and sub-assemblies.
This time however the client has asked me if I would be interested in bidding on the manufacturing contract (FRP automotive components). It seems pretty straight forward... estimate materials, and labor, for the tooling, and parts, and go.
Of course nothing is ever THAT easy. The client is hesitant to guarantee the monthly production volume so I'm unsure about what production details and terms should be taken into consideration. Since FRP products are essentially one-off handmade parts this does not SEEM to present a problem... or does it.
Aside from laying in a drum of resin what other snags might you forsee?
Minimum orders: should I require the customer to order a minimum of say, ten, sets of parts with an attendant down payment of fifty percent (50%) (to keep them interested, defray expenses, and keep the materials fresh) ?
Storage: the storage of the mold sets is going to require that I build some racks (which will eat up floor space). Do you store your customers molds gratis... as a courtesy -OR- do you charge them for the space on a monthly basis? (If their order rate drops significantly I know I'll resent tripping over their tooling).
Pre-cut fabrics: the only savings in labor that I (think) I can realize is cutting more than one set of fabric (mat & cloth) at a time. I would charge the customer for the material, up front, and store it for later use. (This would allow me to always know how much of my rolled stock is available for any other prototype projects, and would prevent me from not having enough on hand for their "next order").
You may have guessed that I do not currently operate a production laminating shop... and maybe I don't want to. This work appears lucrative but I do have some reservations. I might add that I am in California... land of stringent environmental legislation... but THAT's another story, and may require a separate thread altogether.
Your insights would be greatly appreciated... especially "war stories".
A good reference for part mfg., go to the West System website, then, epoxyworks magazine, then back issues. Number 14 has an article about a guy making some fan shrouds for buses. Ken Kimble
I'd first check into what it will cost you to clean the air and insure the building. You might give up recieving either of these quotes.
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