1st set of quotes for Plastic Prototypes of my revised build of the Arduino Lab Platform has come back, 4 priced options -
First two are quotes for some super sleek finish to an almost glass-like smoothness using [SLA] Stereolithography = £1200 for 2 day turnaround and £870 for 8-10 day turn around!!!!
Second type is using [SLS] Selective Laser Sintering for type AAA "Exhibition Standard" finish (Basically perfect with everything sanded and buffed and no trace of runners and risers) - £400 for 2 day and £170 for 8-10 day (Which is pretty good really for a single run prototype to that level of finish. If I select a lower finish standard then I can get it down as low as £80 all in. Both time options are the same cost so this is their absolute lowest price. For rough finish - Snip and Ship they call it! with bits of the joints still in place and the whole thing requiring a good few hours work to get it to a finish you could show and photograph.
HOWEVER they have a min spend of £125 so I would either have to order extras of a couple of the pieces to bulk the order out or have two full models made if I wanted the budget option.
There are 5 levels in-between and including Rough as shit S&S and super sleek AAA so if I go with this firm it would most likely be the A or AA finish which is still to a super fine finish with no trace of any crap left behind and would be around the min spend mark. They also offer painting and other finishing options which are not too pricey either.
I will wait and see what some of the other places come back with. It really doesn't matter if I was to combine parts together to lower the part count as they work it on volume and the current design would actually be easier for them to make, for me to put together and then best for a production run.
Obviously the first type using SLA methods is for super high quality prototypes, not really needed for something like this. I think around the £125-175 mark is fair and it has to be done as Kickstarter now requires a working 1:1 scale prototype to a similar finish of the final product to pass their checks before launching.
The prices tell me one thing that im happy about... if that's how much it costs for a single run of 9 separate parts to a HQ finish, then to get a run of 50 or so made using a much cheaper form of moulded plastic manufacturing it means the prices for the final product will be fairly low and I should be able to get enough knocked out to get a good price for making them and make a fair return selling and without having to have 100's made to scrape a profit over a lot longer period.
I will keep you posted as more quotes come in.