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Asked — Edited

Costing Out Volume Production

For prototyping purposes, I just recently purchased the following items, for a total of $252.34 (including $62.37 in shipping).

Humanoid Head with Camera & RGB Eyes
Hexapod Body (includes battery)
EZ-B v4 Wi-Fi Robot Controller

Just for the purpose of discussion, suppose that I am lucky enough that the first order placed with my future startup business is for 25 of these heads along with an abundance of back-end proprietary software required to process data generated by each of the bots. That means passing along hardware costs totaling about $6,300. So I’m wondering about cutting those costs somewhat.

I imagine there would be some volume discount available for, say, a quantity of 25 of each of the three items above. But what about saving on the cost of the humanoid heads? If I were to purchase a $2,000 3D printer for say $2,500, how many of the heads would I need to print in order to offset the cost of the printer and materials? Any guesses?

On the other hand, choosing in-house production of heads means that I would need to piece-meal order the other items that come in the Humanoid Head with Camera & RGB Eyes kit. Woof!

#1  
And of course, the cost of shipping is almost 25% of the cost being passed along to the customer.
#2  
I am going to chime in here but others would be better at answering I believe.


I see the 3d printed parts being cheaper up until you have enough orders to justify the cost of mass production. It would definitely be cheaper than buying the plastic pieces.
[ Edit - This first statement is wrong, keep reading.]

These are just estimates but I would think that the plastic pieces could be printed for about $5 total. Now, there is time involved and cleanup of these pieces that wouldn't be needed on purchased parts, but excluding that, 25 of these would be about $125 in 3d printing supplies (rough estimate). It really depends on if they are of the quality that you are looking for and if you can get enough out to fill the orders you have based on the print time and the time it takes to clean up the parts.

Another thing to consider is that the horns that attach to the gears will not be as clean. There will be some post printing work that you will need to do to clean up these pieces. What I do is take the metal gear from a servo, heat it, and then press it into the printed part to get the gear teeth as clean as I need it.

The other consideration is the strength of the 3d printed parts. 3d printed parts are not that strong so this may be a consideration for you for servo horns.

Another consideration is if you can sell the prints made from the STL's that you are using. I dont know the legal rights on this and it is something you should look into if you went the 3d printed route. You could design your own parts and do what you want to at that point but there are time costs associated with that.

Another option is to design something but purchase the servos with the horns from EZ-Robot. This would allow you to print some parts and buy some others depending on the legality of selling printed parts using EZ-Robots STL files.

Anyway, each head costs $90 and the base costs $30, so you are looking at $120 for these two pieces with the horns. Shipping and VAT and whatever else comes to whatever it does, but I am going to assume that all of that together costs $200ish.

The servos cost (I dont see the micro servos for sale on the site right now but lets just use the cost of the HD ones that are available) $40.00. Add the battery at $15 and then the eyes at $20 and then the camera at $60.00. The fuse and fuse holder comes with the V4 and the cost of the V4 isnt included in any of this so I am leaving it off of here. The cost is $135 + say $5 in material. Then you have VAT and shipping and such. Lets drop VAT and Shipping from both so the cost to buy the head and body is $120. The cost to buy the components for the head and body comes to $135 without the cost of the material at $5.00. Now if you 3d print these items, you have the cleanup time, assembly time, take apart the power base to mount it in the hex base time, yadda, yadda. You would be much better off not only cost wise but also time wise to just buy the parts from EZ-Robot unless my math is off somewhere.
PRO
Belgium
#3  
the micro servo is on sale here ,19.99 dollar page DIY
#4  
Cool. Thanks Nomad, I missed it I guess. The value I used is correct then.
PRO
Belgium
#5  
yep .if you look good in the store and compair prizes you can save money.
#6  
@d.cochran Thanks so much for your thoughtful response. Your observations about rework remind me that I should be spending my time where I can do the most good for my project, and that is in developing the back-end software.

It's pretty clear to me now that if I can use off-the-shelf bundles provided by EZ-Robot then that's the way I should go. A good thing about that approach is that costs are fixed and well-known. Doing my own thing is risky and costs could be unpredictable.

@nomad18.08 alias Thanks for the reminder about the good buys we get through the EZ store.

Your comments have been way helpful. I hope that I can help others down the road.
#7  
The results (as you can see in my response) were not as I thought at the beginning. Sometimes it just takes someone else to look at things with us to figure it out. Glad I could help.
PRO
Synthiam
#8  
EZ-Robot offers volume pricing for startups and enterprise licensing. Use the Contact Us page and leave your contact info. Someone will be in contact with you to discuss options and better understand your business model to see what we can do to help:D