Originally Posted by prava
I had the FT03 and became really disappointed with it. From a usage point of view, it wasn't thought at all. Putting the computer together was a big pain in the a**. Cable routing? Non-existing. Easy to mount? Nope. Though the panels would come of with a breeze... seriously, it was even hard to get a hold of it because you were scared that a panel would go of and the case would fall to the floor :S
My question wasn't related to whether a $200 case is expensive or not (undoubtedly, it is). What I tried to ask was this: how cheaper does a case become when you make 10 times more cases? I'm sure there must be big saving from 1000 to 10.000, and so on, right? Economies of scale must be important in this business, right? Also, what exactly are the "tooling costs" that many times show up when talking about cases?
Significantly. So when I talk about "tooling costs" what I'm talking about is something like this video from Chenbro, who makes computer cases:
Basically, in order to stamp out something like a side panel, they build a giant "tool" that is inserted into a metal press. Think of it like a cookie mold design. They take bare steel or aluminum, and stick it into this giant press machine, and the tooling inserts cut/bend/stamp the design into the piece of steel. Sometimes it's a multiple stage process, for example, if you had an deep draw "bulge" like on the back of the 400R/500R/C70, you'd stamp that, and then if you were cutting a hole in that side for a window, you might do a second machine to do the hole in the center of that bulge for the window to be inserted.
These tools are plentiful for the metal parts, usually stamping, cutting, bending tools. For plastic parts it's usually injection molded, which means you need to tool up the molds. The 600T, for example, has some very big plastic injection pieces that are injection molded, so the cost is significant just to build the tools.
The next part of the cost is the number of parts. Every part costs something, so if you have a case that has a huge number of parts (like the 900D) it adds significant cost compared to something with relatively few parts, like the 200R.
Paint and anodizing cost money, too. Want to paint the interior? Costs something. Want to anodize it? You can pay a lot for that since anodized aluminum is easily scratched during assembly and then must be scrapped.
And last but not least, material cost comes into it. How many pounds of steel or aluminum were used? How much had to be scrapped? How efficient is the tool? Do you scrap 20% of the inserted sheet or do you find a way to re-use it or optimize your dimensions to get two pieces out of one stamp process? What gauge steel are you using?
This is how mass production is done. So to give you an idea, the NCASE M1 is all aluminum, which increases its cost over steel and plastic and whatever else. It is also anodized, which has some scrap cost associated. The 250D has only a small amount of aluminum and mostly steel elsewhere. The material on the M1 is more expensive. The 250D is about twice the size, so the amount of material used is greater. The 250D comes with two fans, which cost a few bucks each. All in all, if we mass produced the M1 out of aluminum entirely, my guess is our cost would be around the same as our 250D, probably less, though the all aluminum cost does increase the material cost a lot, the decreased size and missing fans would probably make up for it. I think Corsair could sell a clone of the M1 for under $100 if we mass produced it.
But here's the problem - all that tooling for mass production costs in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. That gets amortized over the life of the product. How many products can we sell? Assume it costs $250,000 to tool up the M1 from scratch and mass produce it. Now assume we can sell 5,000 per month. If we amortize the tooling cost over two years (24 months x 5k/mo = 120k units), we're amortizing about $2 per case sold. That gets added to the base cost so we can recover our investment. So if bare purchase price is $70 or something, we'd make it $72 before we did margin and whatever else, at least. Not counting shipping or anything else we have to account for.
But now let's pretend it doesn't sell 5k/mo. Let's pretend it sells 500 a month. What happens then? 500/mo x 24mo = 12000 units, or about $20/per unit
which means that our $70 base cost now jumps all the way to $90. Not counting shipping or anything else we have to account for.
So in short - the more people who buy something, the cheaper it gets, and vice versa. After that two years (or however many) is up, we can lower prices on the product or make more money on each one. Usually prices get lower since the product is older and not as exciting.
I think that people that laugh at the price of things are those who don't value it enough... probably based on lack of culture. The 900D is an expensive case, no doubt, but it has many features many other cases don't have. IMO you were very brave when you launched the 900D because its price makes it very close to the price of some custom cases out there, but the price doesn't make it laughable. It would laughable if you launched an entry-level case at the price of a high-end one. But the 900D? I find it very elegant, yet not feature-lacking (something that Lian Li doesn't... they do nice cases but, when you try to use them, they aren't very friendly or well thought).
Thanks for the compliments. The 900D was a labor of love but even before we shipped it we were thinking of how the next version could be better. You always want to do better.