[GB] IC: Metal replacement door for IBM 3278

Hi all,

So a while back, kuato wanted to take his 3278 restoration one step further than what most others have done: Replacing the plastic manual compartment lid with one made out of metal. What's the point of this, you ask? Perhaps the main benefit is to make it easier to get the entire 3278 powdercoated. Some also say it improves the feel on your wrists, but another big part is making your beamspring feel as heavy and sturdy as it can be.

Image

Original Restoration Thread
He was originally planning on running a group buy for these as others had expressed interest in getting these made, and most machine / sheet metal shops prefer to do these types of projects in bulk. Because the 3278 is one of my favorite boards in my collection and rotation, I decided that I would try and pursue this since there are many shops in my area and kuato seems to have disappeared from the forums. After running around many different places (with some even giving me outrageous estimates -- $500 each!), I have finally found a place that has been able to provide a decent starting point:

MOQ of 15 units: ~$50+ shipping and paypal fees
MOQ of 30 units: ~ $32 + shipping and paypal fees

Please let me know if you would be interested or have any suggestions! To make data easier to collect I have added a form here:

https://goo.gl/forms/jordhmrVx3McdEQ53
Last edited by Bass on 26 Oct 2018, 03:38, edited 5 times in total.
Bass
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Unread post24 Aug 2018, 18:59

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I still feel like $150 is a bit much for these. I think the previous proposed group buy was going to be more like $50, but I don’t have specifics. I feel like you could mill these out of solid aluminum for much less and they’d still paint the same I think. Just a thought to maybe look into as well.
orihalcon

Unread post25 Aug 2018, 03:40

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Bass wrote:Image
The material will be stainless steel based on previous attempts done for kuato and lot_lizard. Here is what I expect based on the quote they sent me:

MOQ of 5 units: ~$200 + shipping and paypal fees
MOQ of 10 units: ~ $150 + shipping and paypal fees

If it's made out of Stainless Steel then NEVER paint it at all.

The beauty of seeing Stainless Steel is like DeLorean's "Back to the Future" Car, simple perfection when viewing it.

Pity I don't have an IBM 3278, my family would murder me on that purchase, without fail :( .

Good luck on this because it's a reasonable price if you can make it FIT perfectly, within the 3278 without any errors.
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Unread post25 Aug 2018, 04:04

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orihalcon wrote:I still feel like $150 is a bit much for these. I think the previous proposed group buy was going to be more like $50, but I don’t have specifics. I feel like you could mill these out of solid aluminum for much less and they’d still paint the same I think. Just a thought to maybe look into as well.

Honestly I doubt it. kuato's original estimate was $200-300 which would be ~$50 each if divided by 5, but I am guessing that's per unit based on my experience with all the local shops over the past few weeks, and the unit prices given to me for the MOQs I expect to hit were on a similar order of magnitude.

Yeah, going with stainless steel is probably the biggest reason for the high price, I am sure aluminum would undoubtedly be much cheaper and be sufficient for powdercoating purposes. The main reason I went with stainless steal is because that's what both kuato and lot_lizard went with for their doors (as well as in the previously proposed GB). The latter also said that you'd need to hit a rather high MOQ (~20) in order to get a good unit price. I think it might be best to consult with the shop again on this subject to see if choosing another metal would be sufficient for our purposes. In the meantime I would appreciate it if others (particularly those with a welding or design/engineering background) could chime in with suggestions since nothing is set in stone!
Bass
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Unread post25 Aug 2018, 04:22

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The problem with expensive stuff is import taxes for us europeans. At a price of $150 and shipping around $30 it would cost an additional $50 in import tax and fees. At $200 that would go up even more.
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Unread post25 Aug 2018, 09:24

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There’s an off chance we could have something made like this in Europe for less. If someone technically proficient (not me!) cares to take the lead. We could even get a low enough price it might be worth exporting to you guys in the US.
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Unread post25 Aug 2018, 10:36

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Is it possible to get a sample made and modelled in China? I'm based in Singapore but speaks fluent Chinese and could help u with it. It'll definitely be much much cheaper :)

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It would be so much cheaper to have this made in China. The actual fabrication is a joke for a shop with sheet metal bending equipment, a welder, and a CNC plasma cutter or waterjet. That $150+ quote you're getting is a supplier passive-aggressively saying that this order is too small for them to really care about but they'll do it as a favor in their spare time.

Let me see if I have any leads. I was on kuato's wait list.
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Unread post25 Aug 2018, 14:00

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xueyao wrote:Is it possible to get a sample made and modelled in China? I'm based in Singapore but speaks fluent Chinese and could help u with it. It'll definitely be much much cheaper :)

Sent from my SM-G965F using Tapatalk

This might not be a bad idea, actually. If you do not have a 3278 door to use as a reference I can send you a spare that I have.
XMIT wrote:It would be so much cheaper to have this made in China. The actual fabrication is a joke for a shop with sheet metal bending equipment, a welder, and a CNC plasma cutter or waterjet. That $150+ quote you're getting is a supplier passive-aggressively saying that this order is too small for them to really care about but they'll do it as a favor in their spare time.

Let me see if I have any leads. I was on kuato's wait list.

Sadly I suspect you are correct about this, down to the whole "passive aggressive" part. The very first place I visited quoted $500 each for an order of 2 as I am sure you recall :( . Perhaps due to this experience I thought $150 was a big improvement but I think enough feedback has been left for me at this point that we should try to see if we can get at least a sub $100 price point at a realistic MOQ.
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Unread post25 Aug 2018, 18:47

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My goal is $50 each, MOQ 50.
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Unread post26 Aug 2018, 03:38

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XMIT wrote:My goal is $50 each, MOQ 50.

Would you know of 50 people, actually owning a 3278 model?
Elrick
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Unread post26 Aug 2018, 05:29

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Hmm, that would definitely be a great price point, that's for sure. Are you also for making the material stainless steel as well?

I agree with Elrick, I feel like 50 MOQ is quite high for a niche product like this. Even at this price I would expect to max out at 20-30 orders, which would mean we'd need to invest around $1k-$1.5k extra to meet the MOQ. To be fair I don't know exactly know how many 3276/3278/3279 owners that would want these assuming the best possible price point.

Given this, I have redone the IC form to instead determine general interest at four approximate price points: $50, $75, $100, and $150:

https://goo.gl/forms/jordhmrVx3McdEQ53

I'll also continue to ask around and get quotes for higher MOQs, so hopefully at least one of us will be able to find a place that will do the job at a good price. Keep us posted!
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Unread post26 Aug 2018, 06:03

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Bass wrote:
xueyao wrote:Is it possible to get a sample made and modelled in China? I'm based in Singapore but speaks fluent Chinese and could help u with it. It'll definitely be much much cheaper :)

Sent from my SM-G965F using Tapatalk

This might not be a bad idea, actually. If you do not have a 3278 door to use as a reference I can send you a spare that I have.
XMIT wrote:It would be so much cheaper to have this made in China. The actual fabrication is a joke for a shop with sheet metal bending equipment, a welder, and a CNC plasma cutter or waterjet. That $150+ quote you're getting is a supplier passive-aggressively saying that this order is too small for them to really care about but they'll do it as a favor in their spare time.

Let me see if I have any leads. I was on kuato's wait list.

Sadly I suspect you are correct about this, down to the whole "passive aggressive" part. The very first place I visited quoted $500 each for an order of 2 as I am sure you recall :( . Perhaps due to this experience I thought $150 was a big improvement but I think enough feedback has been left for me at this point that we should try to see if we can get at least a sub $100 price point at a realistic MOQ.
Do u have a CAD file for it that I can send for easier discussion with the Chinese?

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Unread post26 Aug 2018, 09:30

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xueyao wrote:Do u have a CAD file for it that I can send for easier discussion with the Chinese?

Sent from my SM-G965F using Tapatalk

Unfortunately I don't. Last week I actually asked a local 3D Printing shop about what it would cost to model a CAD file for it and it wasn't cheap, so I will probably avoid going that route. However I can send you rough measurements for the door along with a reference photo. The job would consist of cutting a slab of metal with these dimensions along with 4 latching tabs, cutting a small insert into the slab, bending it, and then welding on the four latching tabs with holes. That alone should be sufficient information to get a rough ballpark estimate I would think.
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Unread post26 Aug 2018, 10:11

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Wanted to post an update: I have continued asking various shops in the area and to be honest, it has kind of been a futile effort. The majority of them refused to do the job outright, and those that didn't have not given me a better price than what I have posted so far. One small welding shop offered to make me a prototype for around $100 which made me hopeful, but they decided not to complete the job since they found making and then welding the 4 metal tabs on to be too tedious. They then said I should try a sheet metal shop, but as I have already said they won't give me a good price point without a very high MOQ. Even though there are so many shops around here, finding the right one for the job has felt like a wild goose chase. I am curious if XMIT has had any better luck than me.

In light of all of this I am thinking the best approach at this point would be to just get a CAD file made for the door and then send it to either a metal 3D printing service or xueyao's Chinese contacts. Since I don't have the required skills for this I tried asking around locally, but again prices were pretty high ($250+). Would anyone on here with CAD experience be willing to provide assistance? To those that can but don't own a 3278, I have a spare door that I can send you.
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Unread post01 Oct 2018, 17:55

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I am interested and will keep track of this thread.
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Unread post02 Oct 2018, 00:46

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Thanks for keeping this alive. I'm still interested in 2 or 3 doors :D
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Unread post08 Oct 2018, 03:02

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If this ever works out I'm down for at least one as well.
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Unread post08 Oct 2018, 05:06

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Just a quick update. I have managed to find someone who will model the part for me. I have not sent them the door yet so he doesn't have exact measurements, but he was already able to make a fairly good looking model just from the reference pictures I sent him:

Image

I'll continue to keep everyone updated as this progresses. Hopefully having the CAD file will open many more opportunities to get a reasonable price / MOQ!
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Unread post17 Oct 2018, 16:56

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$50 would be amahzing and I'd be in for this too.
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Unread post17 Oct 2018, 18:17

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I don't own one of these boards sadly. This is certainly a difficult one to do unless you know a fabricator though, most job shops wont want to touch this for a reasonable cost to you as you have found.

I know the aesthetics of having a matching powdercoat is important, but is there any want for a reinforced version of this? The existing design does nothing to really help deflection in the middle of the door. If this were steel no problem, but if it were to remain plastic there are options with ribbing to improve its rigidity.
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Got some good news!

I have just gotten a 3D model for the door. Big thanks to /u/_cool_kid for making the model and taking measurements for me!

Image

With CAD files in hand I have also gotten some new quotes via xometry. I am pleased to say that the unit price is ~$50 for MOQ 15 and ~$32 for MOQ 30! Just like the best unit price I was getting locally ($150), the material is stainless steel fabricated through sheet metal. Layer_Shift contacted me and also believed that sheet metal would be the most economical fabrication method for this project, and my xometry quotes for CNC were indeed a full order of magnitude higher!

Anyways, there are a couple of things I still need to do before we can get this off the ground. First, I will need to verify that the 3D model has correct dimensions to a first-order, so I will need to 3D print a prototype. Thankfully my employer has 3D printers available to me free of cost, so I'll be able to get this done sometime next week.

The other thing I will need to verify is some of the responses on the IC form. I will 100% order at least 15 units, which means we should reach the sub $50 price point (excluding shipping and paypal fees of course). However a few of you expressed interest in ordering more than 10 units, which would easily allow us to hit MOQ 30, or perhaps even 40. I would appreciate it if these people would follow up with me, since I can't imagine that many people if anyone having 10+ beamsprings to put these doors on.

Finally, we do not necessarily need to pick stainless steel. Aluminum, Low Carbon Steel, and a Copper alloy (260) are also available options. SS was the default choice since this is what other community members who attempted to get these made previously opted for. In terms of price the other materials are all a little bit cheaper per unit (~$5) than SS. Let me know if you guys think a different material would be better.
Last edited by Bass on 26 Oct 2018, 04:23, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post26 Oct 2018, 03:06

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This is great news and a bit tantalizing. The next evolution should be a whole new beamspring case :D
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Unread post26 Oct 2018, 03:31

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I was not expecting it to be that low... That is fantastic! I would recommend talking to a powdercoater and see what impacts the materials have on the powdercoat durability on different materials. I don't have much experience in that other than having it done for me on some projects but it may be worth the question.
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That's great news, Bass! I'm in for SS still.
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count me in too for 2
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Unread post26 Oct 2018, 12:57

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Tentative +1 here, as ever unreliable future budget allows. What are the pros and cons of the other materials, I wonder?
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I'm in for at least 1.
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In for one.
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Mark me down for 3.
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Unread post29 Oct 2018, 21:09

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