"It's Plastic! How Expensive Can It Be?"
On the questionnaire that was completed by most, if not all, of our clients is a query for an estimate of the retail cost of a production version of the item being patented. Some of the estimates are surprisingly low. Relatively, few of our clients realize the costs involved with the mass production of an item. “It’s made of plastic!”, is the usual observation. “How expensive can it be?”
Plastic parts are typically made in a procedure which involves pushing melted plastic resins into a mold, or through a die, made of metal. The characteristics of the type of plastic used, in part, help to dictate what metal may be used. While some thermoplastic items may be fabricated from tubing or sheets, other items of a more complex shape must be made in a specialty molding procedure. Those items fabricated from shapes, such as tubes or sheets may be made quite inexpensively, as the cost to make the die is distributed over hundreds of millions of feet of goods, purchased by millions of customers. On the other hand, the specialty molds, while costing no less to make, and in many cases much more, are limited on the number of items that can be produced over the period of time which their cost can be favorably distributed.
The cost of making a mold must be covered by some investment, and calculated into the price of the finished product. An independent manufacturer will look very closely at sales projections weighted against the costs of production when deciding which products to undertake.