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Low volume token production

Low volume token production

Low volume token production

Hi everyone,

I'm currently looking for a suitable production method for a new product. The product itself is quite simple; it is a token with two holes and a short text message on the surface. It has both a front and a back print. Attached you will find some pictures.

The current material used is plastic, but we are open to use of different materials or manufacturing techniques. The difficulty is the fact that there will be a large number of different varieties, so the volume of each particular variety is low. The initial batch will consist of 30 different varieties. Of each variety only 100 products will be needed (so that makes 100x30 different key-chains).

Currently we’re very pleased with the appearance of this milled sample, because of the resolution, the recessed text, the edge quality and feel. However, this production method seems too expensive. I would like to hear ideas on what production process best fits this token and how to achieve a nice and affordable result for this particular product. In future, we expect to need bigger batches; So both short-term and long-term ideas would be great.

These are the current dimensions:
Diameter: 40 mm.
Thickness: 2,5 mm.
The current version is slightly elliptical, instead of round, but this aspect of the design is negotiable.

Greetings from Holland,


RE: Low volume token production

Laser etching, silkscreening, pad stamping, engraving.
Google "custom laser etched tag" for plenty of sources

RE: Low volume token production

Check out Crown Awards. I do business with them in one of my side enterprises. They do a great job with medallions and tokens.

It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.

RE: Low volume token production

Crown Awards sound like a competitor- not a supplier. Maxvl actually isn't sure what he has is too expensive he wants an alternative to compare but that's far too much- there would be thousands of possible manufacturers throughout the world. Eng-tip is for engineering not commerce so at best we can suggest an alternate total process- i.e. can the 30*100 be amalgamated into one base product and then the forms produced from that.

Use translation assistance for Engineers forum

Note the rules include No Student posting

RE: Low volume token production

Engineering and commerce are inextricably joined at the hip. The making of things has but a single end, and that is to generate revenue. Improving people's lives, either real or perceived, by providing ever-more clever and convenient solutions is simply a prelude to the diffusion of cash from one pocket to another.

That being said, even with a product history of greater than 2 millenia, there are a finite number of practical solutions for coinage and similar products:
1- Casting (including diecasting, injection molding)
2- Printing and surface treatment ( silk screen, pad printing, hot stamping, enameling, etc)
3- Coining (blank/polish/coin, impact extrusion, embossing, etc)
4- Machining (milling, edm, engraving)
5- Electroplate or deposition (possibly the least practical of all methods)

Each of these processes have advantages and disadvantages in tooling costs, production costs, practical batch quantities, quality and finish of end product, etc.

If the OP has intricate milling capability, the production of tooling for either casting or coining should not be a major undertaking, and will yield the greatest advantage in production cost. It's a gamble, as is all business, to weigh the potential revenue against the initial investment.

My 2 cents, in coin of course bigsmile

It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.

RE: Low volume token production

Hi everyone,

Thanks for the quick replies. If I'm correct, the milled products were estimated at almost 1,5 EUR (1,96 USD), which seems unreasonably high. We're aiming at 0,15 EUR (0.2 USD)but any price reduction is welcome. Right now, we're considering laser etching, as the machining time can be greatly reduced, while the quality is still excellent. I'm wondering whether these production can be cheaper in another country, especially since it doesn't require much man hours.

In my opinion, any production method including a mold or die is out of the question right now, unless it's possible to fabricate a die/mold with which the text can be adjusted, or if there's some way to produce dirt cheap dies/molds for a batch of 100 product.

Printing would probably be cheapest, but I'm unsure if we can achieve a high enough production quality for our client that way.

RE: Low volume token production

OK, so additional requirements slowly emerge. What level of "production quality?"

I think that you are mistaken about the unit cost for milling vs. laser. Both tend to be have single unit at a time processing, which is what is costly. Only something with batch processing, i.e., many at a time, would have low unit cost.

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RE: Low volume token production

The local dog supply store has a laser etching machine for dog tags.
They sell the tag for ~12USD and give you a barcode that activates the machine, which you program yourself. The cut time, around a minute, was not real impressive. I assume the machine uses a fairly low power laser, but still, it is not substantially faster than CNC milling with a fast spindle. I suspect the speed is mostly limited by the electromechanical servos and their settling time.

Your basic problem is that your lot quantities are too small to justify investment in a fast technology, or the setup time and tooling cost required by a service company that has made the investment. ... regardless of what the actual technology is.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

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