It seems an unlikely combination, but when you’re an entrepreneur, anything is possible.  Luke Colby’s company, Rocket Thermodynamix, makes parts for rockets.  I’m talking about full-on beautifully machined aerospace quality components.  Here is a typical example:

RocketThermo1

A pyrotechnic actuated poppet valve…

Yeah, I don’t know what you’d use one of these for either.  Maybe Luke can chime in.  I have been amazed and impressed at the willingness of private industry to get involved in the space program on their own, and starting a small company to do so may very well be the next step.  One of the things this company is trying to do along the way is use Kickstarter to help pay for some new CNC machine tools.  Specifically, they’ve created what I’m calling a Space Age Pet Food Bowl and what they’re calling Pest Barrier Pet Food Bowl and it’s been launched as a Kickstarter.  If you’ve ever discovered a line of ants plundering your pet’s food bowl, you’ll know immediately why this is a good idea.  The Pest Barrier Food Bowl actually has a water-filled moat protecting the food so the ants can’t get to it.  In addition, it serves as a bubbler that keeps fresh water there for your pet.  Here’s what one looks like:

ThermoBowl1

The Pest Barrier Pet Food Bowl…

ThermoBowl2

The two parts are held together by magnets.  Simple, but effective!

Looks pretty cool, huh?  Hopefully they’ll do well with their Kickstarter.

I heard about this because Luke, who has been a G-Wizard Calculator customer since 2010, sent me a note that they had used the CADCAM Estimator to do the machining cost estimation for the project.  Here’s what Luke had to say:

Aside from it being a cool machining product I thought you might find it interesting that we used your costing tool in GWizard to verify our cost estimates for the project!  We started by using the machine hourly rate calculator to get our base rate here:

Pricing for Haas VF-1

Then we blocked it out as a series of 2D profile operations and Pocket milling for both the top plate and the bottom plates that you can see in the video on our kickstarter page.  Here is an example of one of those calculations (not a complete list):

Costing Bottom Gwizard

Finally using the raw material tab and adding a cost estimate for the base aluminum raw material and the per part cost for anodizing we ended up with a final product cost.  We ran it several different ways to ensure that we weren’t missing anything and came up with a total per part cost of between $72.50 and $78.65 which when you add a small management reserve and a 15% profit margin gave us an estimate very close to our product base price of $89.
The really cool thing is that we came up with that completely independently of the original quotes that we got from our existing outside machine shops for production run quantities, which is what we used to generate our pricing for the base model unit originally.
So at any rate, we feel confident that if the Kickstarter is successful we have a cost model that works weather we have external machine shops make the parts or, if, as we would prefer, we are able to lease a HAAS VF-1 and make at least some of them in house.  Our ultimate goal of course is to be able to use the VF-1 for making prototypes and production runs of our aerospace hardware, (like our pyro valve you can see on our website www.rocket-thermodynamix.com) but we thought this would be a fun and unique way to pay for the machine!
If you think this is a cool product and a good use of your costing calculator we sure would appreciate a short blog post on it since our success is really going to hinge on getting the kickstarter out there to enough viewers.  So far we have 7 backers for only 140 views of the video, so the product is interesting to people, but we need to get more coverage.
Anyways, thanks for a great product with GWizard!  We use it currently with our Tormach and will continue to use it with the VF-1 if we are successful!
And that’s pretty much a textbook case of what the CADCAM Estimator is good for.  In this case, rather than bidding on a job, Luke is using it more for what’s sometimes called “What should it cost?” calculations.  If you’re going to have a part made, it behooves you to do such a calculation as a check on what your supplier wants to charge.  If the two are far apart, you’ll want to try to find out why.
CADCAM Estimator is an add-on module for GW Calculator, and is still in development.  That means you get to use it for free with G-Wizard Calculator.  We’re actively looking for feedback and continuing work to add the final features and polish.  We welcome any feedback you may have, just email it to me.
 

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