Custom Quote FAQs
We receive questions about custom work quite often on our website. Perhaps you have an idea for a new product, but you’re not sure how or if it can be manufactured using carbon fiber, you have no idea what it will cost to do so, and you wonder how the cost may change going from prototype into mass production. Well, here are some answers for you!
Do you have a CAD model?
It helps us greatly if you have a detailed computer-aided-design (CAD) model of your idea. This will help us determine the best way to manufacture it (depending on the complexity). If all you have is a sketch, that’s ok, but eventually we’ll need to get one of our designers involved to model it in the computer to work out the missing details. This exercise may cost anywhere from $500 to a few thousand dollars, depending on the complexity. But we don’t necessarily need this work performed to give you a cost to prototype your idea.
What special requirements need to be considered?
Is your part is expected to carry “loads”? Will it support the weight of another structure or have something else pushing or pulling on it while it’s in use? Then we’ll likely need to help you determine the composite design (ply lay-up) and wall thicknesses. We have engineers that can help with this! If it’s a quick exercise, we’ll probably do it for free during the quoting process. If it’s complicated and involved, we’ll include this cost as part of the quote.
What manufacturing method will be used?
To estimate the cost of your prototype, we’ll need to decide on the manufacturing method and whether we need to create any tooling (mandrels or molds) to make your part. If it’s a simple part like a tube, the chances are pretty good that we’ll have a mandrel in-house, which will save you some money! If we don’t have the mandrel, then buying one for your project may cost $500-1500 depending on the material and the size (diameter) of the mandrel.
What tooling is needed for other shapes?
If your part is more complex in shape, then we’ll probably need to make a mold. The cost of a mold can vary greatly depending on the size and complexity (say, from $3000 - $50,000!). If you have a relatively small part, like a ski pole handle with basic features, the chances are the mold will cost somewhere in the $3000 - $8,000 range.
How do we determine the cost estimate?
Once we have the part and mold designed, the lay-up determined, and the process identified, we’ll be able to figure out how long it will take us to make the part and what it will cost. This will be determined by figuring out how much “touch labor” will be required and whether any other operations like cutting/trimming, sanding, etc., are needed. We will come back to you with the total cost to make your prototype, including design, materials, labor and tooling so that you can make a decision about whether to proceed.
Are there volume discounts?
At this point in the process, we’ll also be able to give you a pretty good idea about what the part will cost in larger volumes. It will undoubtedly be less expensive in higher quantities because some parts of the process may be more automated and because we will have worked out some of the kinks while prototyping. This higher volume cost varies from project to project, but you can usually count on a price reduction in the neighborhood of 10-25% when you’re making hundreds of parts rather than just one.