Our Funding Goal, or "Why do you need $48k to make a bunch of trebuchets, anyway?"
Hey guys! I’d like to address a question we’ve seen a few times now about our project. Namely, why we’re trying to raise $48k for trebuchets. The short of it is that we’ll be using the money we raise to set up a shop to produce these ourselves. That’s the only way we can manage to provide these to our backers at such a low price point ($30 / ea), and make them at the high quality level that we want.
Sure, some people point out that there are resources in the community specifically to help produce laser-cut projects. The problem is that these resources are too expensive for us to use, and still hit our reward levels.
For example, the problem with groups like Ponoko et al is that they’re simply too expensive. Those companies charge by length of the cut, and there’s a lot of cut-length in these machines. If we were to use one of those services, it would a) cost us tons more to do the actual production on a per treb basis (for example, at Ponoko, the *materials* cost of a similar plywood in a quantity sufficient for a single trebuchet is $11.48, not counting any extra services that you’d have to arrange to have it sanded, waxed, and cleaned after the fact, nor the actual cost of the laser cuts themselves; at Pololu, the cost of running the laser is $2.5 / minute; on a 60W epilog, it takes about 12 minutes to cut out the design, that’s $30 right there, before any materials; local signmakers / etc are similarly priced), and b) it ends up being tough to get the sort of quality we want on the finished parts.
Now, let’s break down our costs and fundraising:
We’re offering the trebuchets at $30 / piece, including S&H. For reference, materials costs run $8-10 each, depending on wastage (from, for example, knots on the inner plies of the plywood ruining cuts). S&H is $5 / trebuchet within the US. That leaves ~$15 of margin. We’re putting *all* of that margin towards setting up the shop to produce these. If we hit $48k, we won’t be pocketing any money on this. We will be able to set up a shop to continue producing trebuchets, and hopefully running a side business selling them online, but that’s what that’s for.
So, if the $30 / trebuchet represents, say a 60% margin, that leaves $28.8k from the kickstarter project after taking out materials costs. Here’s how that $28.8k goes:
Kickstarter & Amazon take a combined ~8.5% cut. That’s $4080.
That leaves about $24k left.
That’s barely enough to pick up a used high-power laser-cutter (~$20k), a decent drum sander so that we’re not sanding each bit of plywood with a palm sander (~$2k), rent some space for the shop, and have a little bit of leeway for unforeseen eventualities.
If we outsource the production of the trebuchets, the costs to the end consumers will be significantly higher and/or the quality of the products they get will be lower. Sure, we’d be able to pull off production with a lower minimum, but that’s not the side of the trade off we’re looking for.
To compare it with what else in on the market, here’s thinkgeek’s offering (http://www.thinkgeek.com/geektoys/warfare/81e6/). That’s $35 / ea, *before tax and S&H*. We’re aiming to produce a superior product at a lower price. A lot of time and effort has gone into these to make them AAAP (As Awesome As Possible!). We spent a solid month and a half adjusting the prototype after figuring out the rough dimensions on a 4th-order runge-kutta simulator that I wrote a year and a half ago. These little toys are a blast, and I hope you’ll help us spread the fun!