Author Topic: Group orders for custom etched parts?  (Read 3043 times)

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GaryHinshaw

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Group orders for custom etched parts?
« on: December 17, 2009, 02:04:35 AM »
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This thread is motivated by my recent experience upgrading a Kato Maxi-IV well set: I wanted to replace the Kato walkways with etched parts and had to cobble together pieces from various Gold Medal sources.  The results were ok, but not ideal, and when I suggested a new product to Loren he politely declined noting that freight car details were his poorest selling product line.  So what's a modeler to do?

In this day and age it is clearly feasible for an individual to design parts, generate the art work, and even etch them (witness Chris333), but many of us prefer to leave the chemistry to a pro.  So is it economically feasible for a small group of like-minded modelers to do a group order from a job shop?  For me personally, I would be willing to pony up $100-200 for something like 5-10 well car detail sets (for example).  If I could round up ~10 others, would that put us in the game for a run of 50-100 units from a high-quality shop?  Is this an idea that merits further scrutiny?

I would be especially keen to hear from the pros.  I'm not trolling for proprietary information, just any general advice that might be helpful.  I can foresee plenty of pitfalls, like dealing with group dynamics in the design phase, dealing with quality control from the shop, distribution, etc.  But they don't seem like show stoppers (yet).

I should emphasize here that I'm *not* looking to get in the business myself -- far from it -- I am only interested in getting obscure parts made by a pro without a commercial-scale investment.  I could imagine a scheme where an individual makes a proposal for a part, along with at least a rough sketch of the art work, and posts it to gauge interest.  If it turned out that someone thought it was commercially viable, great! - we could turn the project over (assuming there was a reasonable likelihood it would actually happen).  If there was insufficient interest among fellow modelers, one would have to pursue other avenues.

Comments and advice welcome.

Thanks,
Gary

Chris333

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Re: Group orders for custom etched parts?
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2009, 02:10:56 AM »
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Figure it something like this. A 12x24" sheet will probably cost around $300-350 so how many of your parts can you fit on one sheet to figure if it is worth it.

They make a big negative of your artwork. After they make that they can use it over and over so the first time you pay for that negative and any more sheets than that are cheaper.

I haven't sent anything out yet so my numbers aren't prefect, but it is free to get quotes right.

Chris333

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Re: Group orders for custom etched parts?
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2009, 02:14:18 AM »
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Oh yeah if you can't make the artwork you gotta pay them to do that at around $50-70 an hour. And possibly if your artwork isn't perfect for what they need they may charge a smaller amount to fit it.

http://www.fotoincisione.info/english/index.html

GaryHinshaw

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Re: Group orders for custom etched parts?
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2009, 02:17:20 AM »
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Thanks Chris - that sounds quite plausible then.  Is 12x24 a standard size?  Has anyone dealt with Exella, or have other shops to recommend?

-gfh

Chris333

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Re: Group orders for custom etched parts?
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2009, 02:43:00 AM »
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I really don't know what a standard size is. Some places will do what ever size you want and some will probably say you can only have it one way. I think the 12x24 size is due to the negatives. Just so happens we have negative out putters at work and the size of a page of the newspaper is just about 12x24 so the machines may have that as a standard size.

Most of this is guessing  ;D

Late breaking news...  I have a negative from work here and it measures 13.25x24".

reinhardtjh

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Re: Group orders for custom etched parts?
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2009, 05:14:50 AM »
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Here's another source from a recent post on the N_Scale Yahoo Group:

Here is our service for those of you thinking of getting into
the model train business. All others may simply delete this message ;>)
http://www.micronart.com/DesignServices.html

Thanks for your attention,
R. Wellman
http://www.micronart.com


I've no experience with them and I don't know prices.  Just putting it out there as a possibility.

  John H. Reinhardt
John H. Reinhardt
PRRT&HS #8909
C&O HS #11530
N-Trak #7566

ednadolski

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Re: Group orders for custom etched parts?
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2009, 10:10:16 AM »
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Does anyone know if this place is any good:  http://www.emachineshop.com/

Website says they do photochemical milling in addition to a variety of other processes.  Looks like they have some free downloadable CAD software for Windows.

Ed


AlkemScaleModels

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Re: Group orders for custom etched parts?
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2009, 10:38:23 AM »
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This thread is motivated by my recent experience upgrading a Kato Maxi-IV well set: I wanted to replace the Kato walkways with etched parts and had to cobble together pieces from various Gold Medal sources.  The results were ok, but not ideal, and when I suggested a new product to Loren he politely declined noting that freight car details were his poorest selling product line.  So what's a modeler to do?

In this day and age it is clearly feasible for an individual to design parts, generate the art work, and even etch them (witness Chris333), but many of us prefer to leave the chemistry to a pro.  So is it economically feasible for a small group of like-minded modelers to do a group order from a job shop?  For me personally, I would be willing to pony up $100-200 for something like 5-10 well car detail sets (for example).  If I could round up ~10 others, would that put us in the game for a run of 50-100 units from a high-quality shop?  Is this an idea that merits further scrutiny?

I would be especially keen to hear from the pros.  I'm not trolling for proprietary information, just any general advice that might be helpful.  I can foresee plenty of pitfalls, like dealing with group dynamics in the design phase, dealing with quality control from the shop, distribution, etc.  But they don't seem like show stoppers (yet).

I should emphasize here that I'm *not* looking to get in the business myself -- far from it -- I am only interested in getting obscure parts made by a pro without a commercial-scale investment.  I could imagine a scheme where an individual makes a proposal for a part, along with at least a rough sketch of the art work, and posts it to gauge interest.  If it turned out that someone thought it was commercially viable, great! - we could turn the project over (assuming there was a reasonable likelihood it would actually happen).  If there was insufficient interest among fellow modelers, one would have to pursue other avenues.

Comments and advice welcome.

Thanks,
Gary


Gary,

Prices on the etch artwork have come down a little bit over the past few years. PEI in Massachusetts now charges around $200 for the photo tool if the artwork requires no additional work. You draw the part and they do the step and repeat to set up the sheet. They have various sheet sizes, but 18" by 24" is a good size for mass production. The metal and actual etching adds about $40-50 per sheet. The problem is if you make a mistake and have to do a revision, which frequently happens, especially for a complex fold up model. There is no discount. You pay the same fees again.

I would be happy to review your artwork before you send it. I may be able to spot mistakes before you commit to metal.  I sometimes use my laser to cut prototype parts to check for fit and design. But the laser cutting process requires different drawings and the tolerances are different, so it takes some experience to modify the drawings for that.


GaryHinshaw

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Re: Group orders for custom etched parts?
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2009, 12:00:28 PM »
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Thanks for the feedback guys -- this sounds quite plausible so far.  I may well take you up on your review offer Bernie (thanks!).  I want to check in with Russ of MLE too, because I know he did quite a bit of prototyping on his hitches before production.

One other thing I'm concerned about is process control.  I've had a few commercial sets where the etching didn't run to completion so, for example, holes weren't holes.  Do shops typically rerun defective parts for free?  Alternatively, is there any rule of thumb for yield on a typical (say 18x24") sheet?

Cheers,
Gary



AlkemScaleModels

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Re: Group orders for custom etched parts?
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2009, 01:12:58 PM »
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Thanks for the feedback guys -- this sounds quite plausible so far.  I may well take you up on your review offer Bernie (thanks!). 

One other thing I'm concerned about is process control.  I've had a few commercial sets where the etching didn't run to completion so, for example, holes weren't holes.  Do shops typically rerun defective parts for free?  Alternatively, is there any rule of thumb for yield on a typical (say 18x24") sheet?

Cheers,
Gary



I have not had that problem with PEI. They inspect the finished parts and generally don't charge for the rejects. Thty avoid trouble by making sure your drawing does not have problems areas. They know what works and they can inspect a drawing and advise you on potential problems.

Sometimes you intentionally want to push the limits to get really fine parts. In those cases you'll get a reduced yield, which you'll have to pay for. But in general their process control is good enough that partial etching is not an issue.

stuntman

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Re: Group orders for custom etched parts?
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2009, 01:32:17 PM »
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  Checked out the Micronart link.   Seems they don't want to mess with short runs.... Of course, It could be this way every place.

     From the Micronart site:
 
     "Most purchases are for resale and require from 30 to 500 sheets sized to 12" X 18" per design for most runs."
« Last Edit: December 17, 2009, 02:25:48 PM by stuntman »

Chris333

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Re: Group orders for custom etched parts?
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2009, 02:14:48 PM »
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I have seen other sites list to expect up to a 10% fail rate. I think they just list this to cover their a$$ though.

This place I listed:
http://www.fotoincisione.info/english/index.html
sounds like they don't use photo tools (negatives) so costs would be reduced. That is how I read it anyways...

kiwi_al

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Re: Group orders for custom etched parts?
« Reply #12 on: December 24, 2009, 05:10:58 PM »
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Have you tried talking to Bob Knight (Traincat) ? He might make it part of his product line if it's feasible.
[

TrainCat2

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Re: Group orders for custom etched parts?
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2010, 01:37:18 AM »
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Looking into it Gary ....

Regards
Bob Knight

TrainCat Model Sales

GaryHinshaw

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Re: Group orders for custom etched parts?
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2010, 11:24:35 AM »
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Awesome Bob!

Regarding intermodal items, it occurs to me that since your developing a kit for a Maxi-I well car set (which is fantastic news BTW!), the interior walkways for that kit would also serve for Maxi-III and -IV sets.  It would be great to make those available separately for detailing other models, especially the Kato.  For what it's worth, the Gold Medal specs on walkway thickness, hole size and spacing are excellent (remarkable in that they date back to 1994) and it would be great to try and match them.

Cheers,
Gary