Author Topic: Cap making price breakdown  (Read 15679 times)

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Offline Pacifist

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Cap making price breakdown
« on: Wed, 09 July 2014, 22:06:44 »
This is a basic price breakdown of a generic cap from master to copies. Prices may differ due to materials, redos, etc.

The purpose is to show everybody looking to get into cap making, at a beginner or pro level, whether or not they can afford to do so and money made after selling them.

I have developed these numbers from my time spent working on keycaps. Iíve spent around 8 months worth of free time on capmaking. I donít have as much experience as the people who own degas chambers, but I know enough about the process to be able to make this general price guideline.

NOTE: DOES NOT FACTOR IN MAN HOURS, WHICH CAN BE QUITE A LOT. FACTORING IN MAN HOURS IS BELOW

Very simple, no expensive tooling setup:

Master Cap (GMK thick) $3
Modeling clay $10
Mold release (petroleum jelly) $3
Silicon (multiple batches) $30
Receptacle (Paper cups, tinfoil) $3
Resin (~25 caps minimum) $25
Dye (3 basic colors, mix and match to get everything else) $6X3=$18

Silicon mold will probably break after 100ish caps.

Initial cost: $92 for ~25 caps, or less than $4 a cap
For 100 caps: $167, or less than $2 a cap

After paying off tooling costs, $1.30 per cap at the lowest (multiple of 100)

For more advanced work, including degas chamber

Master Cap (GMK thick) $3
Modeling clay $10
Mold release (industrial strength) $60
Silicon (multiple batches) $50
Receptacle (More sturdier material) $10
Resin (~25 caps minimum) $40
Dye (one for every color) $6X12ish=$72
Degas chamber (high strength) $600

Initial cost: $845 for 25 caps, ~$34 per cap (all 100% flawless)
100 caps: $965, ~$10 a cap
200 caps: $1175 ~$6 a cap

After paying off tooling: $2.10 at the lowest (multiple of 100)

At the advanced level, with high success rate, selling 25 caps in a sale (after tooling costs are paid for ~$800) at the cost of $4 a cap and selling at $15 a cap makes a net profit of $225



As far as I know, all the cap makers do this for hobby and as such are volunteering their time to the community and arenít looking for profit. The ones that will take time into consideration are using the advanced setup described above and are making a sale of 25-50 caps at least once a month, or 300 caps a year, at at least $20 a cap.

But in the case that they want compensation for the time spent, I have calculated an estimate based upon a $20 per hour payment, which is over twice the minimum wage. I doubt that somebody who makes that much an hour would spend their free time making caps, especially when considering that the $20 per hour is not taxable by the IRS and is pure net profit, compared to whatever income taxed jobs are.

From a user in the comments:

- R&D costs
- Marketing
- Distribution channels
- Legal department (expensive in some cases)
- Human Resources
- Interns

Price breakdown for those issues:
R&D- Varies from person to person on how polished they want their work to be. This is mainly time spent on making the master (varies, 24 hrs is probably enough) and trying out resins and mold materials. Also developing colors, which takes ~10 hrs, and oftentimes is mixed in with the thought process behind making the master and trying out materials. ~$480 on sculpting ~$300 for materials. $240 for colors.
Marketing: Paying for marketing is nonexistent, as most sales are advertised on forums for free. Time spent making ads highly varies, but 5 hrs is generous. $100
Distribution: Forums mainly, some websites. ~$100
Legal-AFAIK, no cap maker has spent any money on any legal issues. Cap making is highly informal and probably doesnít need legal help. This is more suited for a more formal form of profit, in which one would not be using a forumís artisan services subforum to sell their wares in. The most they might do is make an LLC, which IIRC costs $1500 a year. This will not be factored in because AFAIK no cap maker has done this. In addition there are sales taxes to factor in, which will not be because in the informal artisan services setup, sales taxes are never factored in.
HR: Most cap making is a one man job, donít really see any HR necessary.
Interns: Again, one man job, and cap making is so small that if you even get an intern, itíll probably be unpaid

These are mainly one time costs for one design. ~$1220

Now for the time for making each cap:
5 minutes mixing dyes, 2 minutes pouring, 2 minutes using the degas chamber, 2 minutes demolding, pot time varies (can also prep next batch while waiting), 30 mins is average. Factor in time in between the steps. Total time, ~45 minutes or $15, divided between the number of caps being made in a batch, usually 5+, so $3 per cap in pure resin to finished product time.

For multiple colors, factor in 30 minutes per color, usually 4 colors tops, time spent while in pot can be used to prep next color, so total time ~2 hrs, or $40, divided by 5+ caps or $8 per cap.

Factor time into the tooling costs, and we get:

Initial cost (25 caps): $845 tooling, $1220 development, $75 in making time (single color) $200 in making time (quad shot)
Total (25 caps): $2140 for single color, or $85.6 per cap, $2265 for 4 colors, or $90.6 a cap.

For 300 caps a year: $845 tooling, $1220 dev, $900 for 300 single shots, $2400 for quad shot
Single: $2965, or under $10 a cap
Quad shot: $4465, or under $15 a cap.

If selling at $20 a cap (which is on the low end), 300 caps a year(very low number), for total revenue of $6000:
Net profit(single colors) $3035
Net profit(quad shots) $1535
Keep in mind these net profits do not include money made at the $20 a hour rate and are over a year of work and everything is compensated for, including all labor, for making ONE design. Each new design made will add more money.

Also keep in mind that these numbers are very generous. Over 1K is ďspentĒ on developing the cap, and a cap maker in this scenario ďmakesĒ a measly 300 caps a year, not even enough to fill up 3 full size keyboards, over the 180 hours or 7.5 complete days spent on one design.

So at the end of a year, a cap maker makes a decent amount of money. Can you live off of it? No. Is it a decent amount of money for doing something one loves? Yes.

So in recap:
To the beginners looking to start a new hobby: Its very cheap, $200 and unpaid time spent working on a hobby gets you 100 keycaps that you made yourself.
To the people looking at cap making as a form of profit, not a hobby: Nope, not a good idea at all, spend your time working a real job.
« Last Edit: Mon, 04 August 2014, 18:09:14 by Pacifist »

Offline sakai4eva

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #1 on: Thu, 10 July 2014, 00:16:50 »
As an accountant, this thread interests me more than your build process.

Offline SpAmRaY

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #2 on: Thu, 10 July 2014, 07:21:29 »
So your saying all the cap makers are overcharging us??



Offline JPG

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #3 on: Thu, 10 July 2014, 07:32:28 »
So your saying all the cap makers are overcharging us??


(Attachment Link)


I never tried it myself, but you can probably expect that they are charging you for their time/work/skill maybe?  :p
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Offline absyrd

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #4 on: Thu, 10 July 2014, 07:33:40 »
So your saying all the cap makers are overcharging us??


(Attachment Link)


I never tried it myself, but you can probably expect that they are charging you for their time/work/skill maybe?  :p

How DARE they???? This is a COMMUNITY!  :))
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Offline Computer-Lab in Basement

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #5 on: Thu, 10 July 2014, 07:41:24 »
Ok.

And the purpose of this thread is...?

I mean, I could understand if Bro or CC or HipPunks posted this as a source of information, but coming from you it seems like you're trying to make a point to defend yourself for overcharging in your sale threads.

Oh wait... right.  Answered my own question...
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Offline HoffmanMyster

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #6 on: Thu, 10 July 2014, 07:52:09 »
NOTE: DOES NOT FACTOR IN MAN HOURS, WHICH CAN BE QUITE A LOT

Ahem.  Yeah, let's just not factor in one of the major contributors, and still publish the "results".  This is a joke.  You said so right in your post which I've quoted.

Stop stirring up drama.  You know what you're doing, and it's incredibly immature.

I am not locking this thread at this time because I think people deserve to see what you're doing.  However, I do believe that it is entirely worthless and uncalled for.

Offline JaccoW

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #7 on: Thu, 10 July 2014, 16:22:56 »
So your saying all the cap makers are overcharging us??
Still missing:
- R&D costs
- Marketing
- Distribution channels
- Legal department (expensive in some cases)
- Human Resources
- Interns

:P
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Offline absyrd

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #8 on: Thu, 10 July 2014, 16:25:25 »
So your saying all the cap makers are overcharging us??
Still missing:
- R&D costs
- Marketing
- Distribution channels
- Legal department (expensive in some cases)
- Human Resources
- Gnomes

:P

Fixed.

My wife I a also push her button . But now she have her button push by a different men. So I buy a keyboard a mechanicale, she a reliable like a Fiat.

Offline nubbinator

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #9 on: Thu, 10 July 2014, 22:13:45 »
So your saying all the cap makers are overcharging us??
Still missing:
- R&D costs
- Marketing
- Distribution channels
- Legal department (expensive in some cases)
- Human Resources
- Interns

:P

R&D is the huge one for me.  I'm constantly playing with new types of dyes/pigments/etc to try and find interesting and consistent results.  I know HipsterPunks has spent a ton of money on different resins recently.  Bro has his high quality Brobot mold he had made.  The R&D cost is huge if you actually care about your work.  I know some people would rather go around asking other people exactly how they do it and try to copy that, but to really make something that's good, you have to do your own R&D.

Additionally, the cost breakdown assumes that everyone is using the same supplies he is.  Some resins, dyes, etc are more expensive than others.  Some of the colorants I'm looking at will set me back almost $100 just for one color that I won't use for a ton of caps.  Some of the nice resins can be $60-100 for a quart once you factor in shipping.

Also, if you're like me, a decent amount of money is spent on incidentals.  My caps I sent out with the bags, I didn't make money on.  Once you factor in shipping, freebies like that, and so on, the cost gets even higher.

Offline SpAmRaY

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #10 on: Thu, 10 July 2014, 22:42:29 »
Those nub bags were awesome!

Offline rowdy

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #11 on: Thu, 10 July 2014, 22:52:55 »
Those nub bags were awesome!

Pac seems to have omitted those from his list!
"Because keyboards are accessories to PC makers, they focus on minimizing the manufacturing costs. But thatís incorrect. Itís in HHKBís slogan, but when Americaís cowboys were in the middle of a trip and their horse died, they would leave the horse there. But even if they were in the middle of a desert, they would take their saddle with them. The horse was a consumable good, but the saddle was an interface that their bodies had gotten used to. In the same vein, PCs are consumable goods, while keyboards are important interfaces." - Eiiti Wada

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Offline HoffmanMyster

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #12 on: Thu, 10 July 2014, 22:54:07 »
Those nub bags were awesome!

Pac seems to have omitted those from completely botched his list!

FTFY

Offline tinlong117

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #13 on: Thu, 10 July 2014, 23:45:46 »
You haven't took creativity into account.

Offline Sifo

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #14 on: Fri, 11 July 2014, 00:38:43 »
You haven't took creativity into account.
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Offline The_Beast

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #15 on: Fri, 11 July 2014, 00:45:11 »
You haven't took creativity into account.

Who need that when you just copy others....
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Offline mkawa

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #16 on: Fri, 11 July 2014, 00:54:21 »
am i just missing the part of this thread where something gets made? this might be a better conversation for off-topic..

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Offline rowdy

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #17 on: Fri, 11 July 2014, 01:02:54 »
Isn't it about the equipment and costs thereof needed to start making something?
"Because keyboards are accessories to PC makers, they focus on minimizing the manufacturing costs. But thatís incorrect. Itís in HHKBís slogan, but when Americaís cowboys were in the middle of a trip and their horse died, they would leave the horse there. But even if they were in the middle of a desert, they would take their saddle with them. The horse was a consumable good, but the saddle was an interface that their bodies had gotten used to. In the same vein, PCs are consumable goods, while keyboards are important interfaces." - Eiiti Wada

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Ị̸͚̯̲́ͤ̃͑̇̑ͯ̊̂͟ͅs̞͚̩͉̝̪̲͗͊ͪ̽̚̚ ̭̦͖͕̑́͌ͬͩ͟t̷̻͔̙̑͟h̹̠̼͋ͤ͋i̤̜̣̦̱̫͈͔̞ͭ͑ͥ̌̔s̬͔͎̍̈ͥͫ̐̾ͣ̔̇͘ͅ ̩̘̼͆̐̕e̞̰͓̲̺̎͐̏ͬ̓̅̾͠͝ͅv̶̰͕̱̞̥̍ͣ̄̕e͕͙͖̬̜͓͎̤̊ͭ͐͝ṇ̰͎̱̤̟̭ͫ͌̌͢͠ͅ ̳̥̦ͮ̐ͤ̎̊ͣ͡͡n̤̜̙̺̪̒͜e̶̻̦̿ͮ̂̀c̝̘̝͖̠̖͐ͨͪ̈̐͌ͩ̀e̷̥͇̋ͦs̢̡̤ͤͤͯ͜s͈̠̉̑͘a̱͕̗͖̳̥̺ͬͦͧ͆̌̑͡r̶̟̖̈͘ỷ̮̦̩͙͔ͫ̾ͬ̔ͬͮ̌?̵̘͇͔͙ͥͪ͞ͅ

Offline HoffmanMyster

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #18 on: Fri, 11 July 2014, 01:10:07 »
am i just missing the part of this thread where something gets made? this might be a better conversation for off-topic..

No.  This is a thinly veiled attempt at calling out the existing cap makers for the prices they charge.

Offline Sifo

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #19 on: Fri, 11 July 2014, 01:16:34 »
I wonder if he's seen his own sale threads?
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Offline HoffmanMyster

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #20 on: Fri, 11 July 2014, 01:17:58 »
I wonder if he's seen his own sale threads?

Hmm....    :rolleyes:

Offline Sifo

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #21 on: Fri, 11 July 2014, 01:18:36 »
I wonder if he's seen his own sale threads?

Hmm....    :rolleyes:
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Offline Zeal

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #22 on: Fri, 11 July 2014, 01:20:45 »
Oh my, just found this thread. Hilarious!  :)) :)) :))

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Offline Sifo

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #23 on: Fri, 11 July 2014, 01:21:19 »
Oh my, just found this thread. Hilarious!  :)) :)) :))
Aren't most pacifist threads just a joke?
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Offline JaccoW

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #24 on: Fri, 11 July 2014, 01:26:55 »
So your saying all the cap makers are overcharging us??
Still missing:
- R&D costs
- Marketing
- Distribution channels
- Legal department (expensive in some cases)
- Human Resources
- Interns

:P
R&D is the huge one for me.  I'm constantly playing with new types of dyes/pigments/etc to try and find interesting and consistent results.  I know HipsterPunks has spent a ton of money on different resins recently.  Bro has his high quality Brobot mold he had made.  The R&D cost is huge if you actually care about your work.  I know some people would rather go around asking other people exactly how they do it and try to copy that, but to really make something that's good, you have to do your own R&D.

Additionally, the cost breakdown assumes that everyone is using the same supplies he is.  Some resins, dyes, etc are more expensive than others.  Some of the colorants I'm looking at will set me back almost $100 just for one color that I won't use for a ton of caps.  Some of the nice resins can be $60-100 for a quart once you factor in shipping.

Also, if you're like me, a decent amount of money is spent on incidentals.  My caps I sent out with the bags, I didn't make money on.  Once you factor in shipping, freebies like that, and so on, the cost gets even higher.
Thanks for that explanation Nubs. :)
I haven't been able to get my hands on one of your caps yet but after reading your explanation on colorants  I can see where that money goes to.

And I will put 'Incidentals' under Marketing. :P
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Offline Defect

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #25 on: Fri, 11 July 2014, 10:28:42 »
On the reverse side, this is why I got into (trying to) buy community crafted caps.  I like this cost breakdown, even if it's only specific to Pacifists costs.

I love what you guys (all you Crafters) do and I want to support it (also GHers make some beautiful caps).  Just wish I could get in on a sale lol.

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Offline digi

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #26 on: Fri, 11 July 2014, 10:36:12 »
cool numbers....bro.

Offline duhpreh

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #27 on: Wed, 24 September 2014, 00:04:04 »
Where did u buy supplies from? Hobby store?

Offline bcredbottle

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #28 on: Tue, 29 September 2015, 15:38:53 »
I'm sorry but I have to necropost to gripe. I found this thread b/c it's on the r/mk wiki. I think it's a little misleading because it gives the impression that you can cast w/o a pressure pot, which in my limited experience (and from speaking with the established artisans here) is impossible. If someone has actually been able to cast structurally sound, bubble free caps w/o a pressure pot or vacuum chamber, please shut me up. But I'm a bit frustrated b/c I spent hundreds of $ on silicone, resins, dyes, etc. only to find out that you really can't air cast alone and really, you need to spend another $300+ (extremely conservative) on equipment.

Offline HoffmanMyster

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #29 on: Tue, 29 September 2015, 15:41:53 »
I'm sorry but I have to necropost to gripe. I found this thread b/c it's on the r/mk wiki. I think it's a little misleading because it gives the impression that you can cast w/o a pressure pot, which in my limited experience (and from speaking with the established artisans here) is impossible. If someone has actually been able to cast structurally sound, bubble free caps w/o a pressure pot or vacuum chamber, please shut me up. But I'm a bit frustrated b/c I spent hundreds of $ on silicone, resins, dyes, etc. only to find out that you really can't air cast alone and really, you need to spend another $300+ (extremely conservative) on equipment.

Trust me, we all knew this was "a little misleading".  ;)

Offline bcredbottle

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #30 on: Tue, 29 September 2015, 15:48:26 »
Wait, this **** was just satire?  Pretty subtle and kind of ****.

Offline HoffmanMyster

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #31 on: Tue, 29 September 2015, 15:50:58 »
Wait, this **** was just satire?  Pretty subtle and kind of ****.

No, I wouldn't say satire.  It was a jab at other cap makers for "charging too much", without really looking at the whole picture.  It was basically the costs for the little bit of plastic that ends up on your keyboard, discounting all other costs (both soft and hard) associated with the production of that cap.  It was very shortsighted and practically did not mean much.

Pacifist was being serious (AFAIK), but no one in the (geekhack, at least) community ever took his claims seriously.  I have no clue why someone felt it was legitimate information and added it to the /r/mk wiki.

Offline Data

  • Posts: 2608
  • Location: Orlando, FL
Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #32 on: Tue, 29 September 2015, 15:52:27 »
I have no clue why someone felt it was legitimate information and added it to the /r/mk wiki.

That was probably Pacifist himself.  :))

Offline suicidal_orange

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #33 on: Tue, 29 September 2015, 15:57:05 »
I'm sorry but I have to necropost to gripe. I found this thread b/c it's on the r/mk wiki. I think it's a little misleading because it gives the impression that you can cast w/o a pressure pot, which in my limited experience (and from speaking with the established artisans here) is impossible. If someone has actually been able to cast structurally sound, bubble free caps w/o a pressure pot or vacuum chamber, please shut me up. But I'm a bit frustrated b/c I spent hundreds of $ on silicone, resins, dyes, etc. only to find out that you really can't air cast alone and really, you need to spend another $300+ (extremely conservative) on equipment.

Have a look at Booper's early work (this is the last pic in the OP) - no pressure and it looks perfect to me. 



There was another artisan I bought from who did without too, I asked in the either their sale thread or MST because I was surprised at the quality but I post too much in both sections to find it...

It can be done, but with a much higher failure rate so not really recommended :)
                               
Ducky Zero, MX Reds    JD40, Jailhouse Blues           GH60
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Offline bcredbottle

  • Posts: 694
  • Location: Seattle, Washington
Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #34 on: Tue, 29 September 2015, 18:02:47 »
Wait, this **** was just satire?  Pretty subtle and kind of ****.

No, I wouldn't say satire.  It was a jab at other cap makers for "charging too much", without really looking at the whole picture.  It was basically the costs for the little bit of plastic that ends up on your keyboard, discounting all other costs (both soft and hard) associated with the production of that cap.  It was very shortsighted and practically did not mean much.

Pacifist was being serious (AFAIK), but no one in the (geekhack, at least) community ever took his claims seriously.  I have no clue why someone felt it was legitimate information and added it to the /r/mk wiki.

I removed it from the r/mk wiki. I think that it's dangerous for extremely stupid or unperceptive people like me. We need to protect the most vulnerable members of our society.

I'm sorry but I have to necropost to gripe. I found this thread b/c it's on the r/mk wiki. I think it's a little misleading because it gives the impression that you can cast w/o a pressure pot, which in my limited experience (and from speaking with the established artisans here) is impossible. If someone has actually been able to cast structurally sound, bubble free caps w/o a pressure pot or vacuum chamber, please shut me up. But I'm a bit frustrated b/c I spent hundreds of $ on silicone, resins, dyes, etc. only to find out that you really can't air cast alone and really, you need to spend another $300+ (extremely conservative) on equipment.

Have a look at Booper's early work (this is the last pic in the OP) - no pressure and it looks perfect to me. 

Show Image


There was another artisan I bought from who did without too, I asked in the either their sale thread or MST because I was surprised at the quality but I post too much in both sections to find it...

It can be done, but with a much higher failure rate so not really recommended :)

Yeah...plus I just realized that Roast Potatoes gravity casts and he makes gorgeous caps. I will press on.

Offline suicidal_orange

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Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #35 on: Tue, 29 September 2015, 18:12:30 »
I just realized that Roast Potatoes gravity casts and he makes gorgeous caps. I will press on.

I have a couple of his caps so may well have been him I was thinking of.  Good luck with yours :)
                               
Ducky Zero, MX Reds    JD40, Jailhouse Blues           GH60
Soarer controller

Offline bcredbottle

  • Posts: 694
  • Location: Seattle, Washington
Re: Cap making price breakdown
« Reply #36 on: Tue, 29 September 2015, 18:20:05 »
I just realized that Roast Potatoes gravity casts and he makes gorgeous caps. I will press on.

I have a couple of his caps so may well have been him I was thinking of.  Good luck with yours :)

Thanks!