Make pen kits

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Lmstretch

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I have been turning pens for about 3 years now and found only two US companies that make pen kits. One company specializes in silver kits and the other company make a few nice kits but is always out of stock. Just curious, what equipment would be needed to start producing pen kits in volume? Does anyone know?
 
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PatrickR

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A lot of views but no responses so I’ll throw in my 2 cents. I have no expertise in this just some thoughts. Think of it as small parts manufacturing. All of the major sources of kits outsource. Each has slight variations in design but not much that is unique, leading me to think that most of them are manufactured at the same place.
The two US producers you site have one thing in common, no plating. I don’t think that is coincidence.
Its safe to say it would require a substantial investment wether you produced the parts or outsourced the production. Good Luck!
 

EricRN

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For just circular stuff, you could probably manufacture on a small scale with just a metal lathe. If you want to get into fancy clips and more organic shapes, then I think a mill would be necessary too. Platings would require a bunch of other materials to complete the electroplate. If your going to be working with precious metals or molten things (gold, silver, brass, bronze, etc as opposed to steel) then your getting into casting. That’s another set of tools and skills. John Lawrence on this forum does some beautiful work casting silver and bronze.

I suppose there’s also the option of designing your own parts and then finding a machine shop that can produce them for you. Unless your doing that on a huge scale, I can’t imagine that would be cost effective.
 

NJturner

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I think the bigger issue is how will the pen be used - if you are planning to make them and sell, then cost of materials is key. If you are making for collecting or as gifts, cost is less important. I'm finding that the sale price of lots of hand crafted things is highly depressed because the market is flooded with cheap items from overseas, so its harder to make money on crafted items because people are looking for 'cheap'. Go to any craft market in my area and you will find a crafter selling hand made kit pens for as low as $15 - $20. If you figure the cost of the materials, plus time, there is not much profit. You would have to produce a lot of kits at a really good price to make this viable.
 

EricRN

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I think the bigger issue is how will the pen be used - if you are planning to make them and sell, then cost of materials is key. If you are making for collecting or as gifts, cost is less important. I'm finding that the sale price of lots of hand crafted things is highly depressed because the market is flooded with cheap items from overseas, so its harder to make money on crafted items because people are looking for 'cheap'. Go to any craft market in my area and you will find a crafter selling hand made kit pens for as low as $15 - $20. If you figure the cost of the materials, plus time, there is not much profit. You would have to produce a lot of kits at a really good price to make this viable.
+1 on this. There is so much “handcrafted” stuff on Etsy that is mass produced. Tough to compete on price like that. I can’t really make much profit. I usually sell just to recoup cost of materials and fund my hobby.
 

PatrickR

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My assumption was the OP was looking at production for resale. He states “in volume”. If so a production CNC and the knowledge to use it +++. in this country the cost of doing business will far exceed the cost of materials.
 

Lmstretch

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For this post, my question is geared towards what equipment would it take to produce a quality “Made in the USA” pen kit that could be sold to Penturners. Right know I am just asking the questions in order to do a little research. I understand that it is probably not cost effective, but I want to do a little research just the same.
 

egnald

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Greetings from Nebraska.

I would suppose you would need a feed-through CNC lathe for turning nibs, couplers, finials, and the like. Something like that could also be purposed to slice brass tubes to the appropriate length. The only somewhat cost effective way to make clips and such would be to have a small stamping operation - most likely a 4-slide machine that could not only do some stamping, but also some forming operations. Very few manufacturers do their own in-house plating simply because of the EPA and environmental implications associated with electroplating, they outsource. There are plenty of USA based plating houses that can do decorative chrome, gold, etc. Of course the standard shop support equipment would be needed as well, air compressor, tool sharpeners, surface plates, measuring equipment, pallet jack, small forklift, etc.

I am sure there are other tool and die things that are job specific, but as far as research goes this is what I my starting point would be.

Dave
 
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