Gonna make myself a widget...
April 18, 2006 12:52 PM   Subscribe

Where can I go online for cheap, fast manufacturing of a small plastic/foam widget, on the order of 100-1000 in number?

I've got an idea (who hasn't!) for a small product. Said product would be very cheaply manufactured (one material, no moving parts) and could possibly be injection molded or milled from a soft foam or plastic. I can definitely provide a mockup, and maybe even provide a CAM file.

I'm guessing there are sites in China that specialize in this sort of thing. I'm even fairly certain I've seen one or two, but can't find them. Bonus points for US based manufacturing, but it's not a necessity.

Secondary question: it may be necessary to patent this, much as I'm not a fan of that system. How far into a manufacturing process can/should I go before seeking a patent?
posted by griffey to Technology (7 answers total)
My boyfriend got some things made using http://www.mfgquote.com
posted by disaster77 at 1:23 PM on April 18, 2006

ThomasNet.com might be a good place to start looking, but eMachine Shop seems pretty close to what you're looking for.
posted by rschroed at 2:20 PM on April 18, 2006

Last time I checked this plastic molder would give estimates over the phone:

posted by StarForce5 at 2:28 PM on April 18, 2006

Emachineshop is almost certainly what I'll use for an initial prototype, but I don't think their prices scale well. Surely there's something for small numbers of widgets out there that's not terrifically expensive.
posted by griffey at 3:00 PM on April 18, 2006

I'd go look at mfgquote and thomasnet. This question is actually very similar to one I was going to post about a wood frame product so I spent the last hour looking through thomasNet's resources and I have a promising list to contact.

mfgquote looks like it might be a good tool too but I haven't got a good generic description/mockup of what I need to post at the moment. I did message disaster77 for some clarification and she said her bf was very happy with the result of what he got and the quality and price were what he wanted.

Now where do I find someone to CAD out what I need....
posted by phearlez at 4:03 PM on April 18, 2006

alibaba.com is the global manufacturing uber-site. Put your job up for bids & get back a dozen offers. A lot of the bids will be Pacific Rim, especially China, so that doesn't meet your US requirement. But it will be cheap.
posted by scalefree at 7:08 PM on April 18, 2006

Protomold will take your CAD file and turn it into injection molded parts in a few days starting at $1800.

Disclosure: many employees there are personal friends; I have never done business with Protomold, and have no financial interest in you doing so.
posted by chazlarson at 7:54 AM on April 19, 2006

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