This morning I looked at a servo bar feeder to add to the new cnc lathe. You'd be surprised how every little thing adds up to a lot of money on a new machining process. I was lucky enough in my months of shopping to buy my lathe at a fraction of it's original price tag because it was used 6 months and we're in a machine-buying slump. It's a good thing I didn't pay the $140,000-$250,000 price tag of a comparable machine made in Germany. I saved by buying a high quality Taiwan machine slightly used. But then you add all the things necessary to make this machine run at capacity efficiently and the nickels and dimes start to add up.
A new bar feeder runs around $28,000-$35,000 new, but once again I got lucky. I asked a friend who has a machine shop nearby if he knew of anyone selling a bar feeder. It turns out his friend has a brand new 1997 bar feeder for sale for $4500. It is bolted to his shop floor right next to a lathe like mine, but was never hooked up. Either I'm extremely lucky or America is selling off its capacity to produce quality products. I suspect both are true. I just saved around $28,000 finding this one tool!
Software is another expense that doesn't come cheap. Sadly, I've been advised by several people to simply download bootleg software rather than purchasing through the manufacturer, Delcam. I'm honest and this is not an option, so $19,000 later I have the right software for the job. Yes, the software that converts my drawings into motion code for my machine cost as much as a decent car! Too bad I'm still driving a '97.
I wasn't so lucky with spindle collets. I need at least 6 to get started and around 25 once I have every part in production. These don't come with the machine, yet they're necessary to cut anything. And they're only available new at $165 each. That adds up to over $4000! Next on my list are cutters and holders, which will add up to another $3000+ to get started. Then to add the 4 high speed electric spindles is another $12,145 and there's no option of finding these used or at a lower price. Add in the cost of spindle liners ($2000), live tooling ($3000) shipping ($1600) and rigging ($400) and you now have the price to plug this machine in and turn it on to cut the first part.
If I had bought everything new, the price would have been at least $217,000. After all of this, I need to continue to buy cutters, metal stock, pay for more electricity, pay people to run the lathe (in this case, me), finish, plate, stock and ship the parts, build new website pages, create and buy packaging and build new displays in our showroom and shows to hold the new products.
Maybe this explains why none of my competitors are jumping into the modular trumpet mouthpiece business. Yet I see all of this as a great opportunity to solve some real problems. I am putting everything I have into the new 5MM Modular Mouthpiece line just like I've put 100% of my effort and capital into my trumpet business for the past 10 years. And I'm confident there will be a real impact on the personal playing achievements of thousands of individual musicians. It will all be worth the years of time, energy and risk...it's been worth it all along. I guess that's why I don't mind getting nickel and dimed on a machine that offers endless possibilities!