Online prototyping seems like it may be a nice option for quickly starting production of parts without the hassle of having to make them yourself. I've had a company by the name of the E-Machine Shop (http://www.emachineshop.com) in mind for my next prototype which was beyond my capabilities as a machinist. To that end, I decided that I might as well outsource my production of a peristaltic pump from my last post to them so I can focus on other projects. I drew up my design for the outer pump container in their proprietary CAD software, and had it give me an instant quote.
$250 for the part. This part is made of acrylic will require three operations: turning the inner and outer diameters, milling the two slots, and drilling the 5 holes with two standard-size drills. This is ridiculous! While I rather enjoy the idea of having parts only a click away, the price that I got quoted for this part is simply exorbitant.
Of course, I was asking for just one of them; had I upped my order to 25 I could have gotten them at $20 apiece. But for the prototyper and homebrew developer, this is simply out of my price range. I guess I'm going to have to make it myself!