Old school manufacturing
I talked last time about how we've been using 3D printing to help us move quickly on development and prototyping of our razor. Doing anything well depends on using the right tool for the job. When it comes to making our final product in large numbers we have chosen a much more traditional technique.
Precision die casting
Our production razors will be die cast in zinc. This is a process that hasn't changed significantly for many years. In principle it's a straightforward process that involves melting down zinc and forcing it into moulds to produce our razor handle. Of course in practice it's complicated because you have to design the flow paths, make sure the metal flows properly into all the parts of the mould and that the temperatures are controlled precisely enough to allow that to happen.
In terms of the finished product, what this gives us is a strong, well-balanced metal handle to which we can fit the small mechanism which connects to replaceable razor heads. This simple construction, with a one-piece solid handle, is key to the integrity of our design.
So zinc gives a finished product with the attributes we require. It also has other advantages. When compared with casting aluminium, for example, it has a lower melting temperature which means the tools are stressed less and therefore last longer. A great benefit of casting in general is that the process produces no material waste. Any scrapped or leftover metal is simply put back in the furnace to be melted down and reused.
Made in England
We have been working closely with our supplier for the die cast parts. Being able to visit the factory and get to know the people working there is great. Their expertise and help has really helped our development process so far and as we move things forward it's comforting to know that we can take on any potential project challenges together.
It also feels good to be close to the industrious heritage of Britain. The die casters we're working with are based in a part of the English Midlands known as the Black Country. This was an area which played a significant part during the industrial revolution and has an illustrious history. Incidentally, the factory is just up the road from the first automatic traffic lights in Britain.
Die casting is a relatively high-volume production process. The tooling into which the molten metal is pushed is machined from steel and will be reused many times. This means that, compared with something like 3D printing, the upfront costs are higher, but ongoing unit costs are lower.
We strongly believe that good design needn't be prohibitively expensive. This is why we are choosing this method of manufacturing for the Ockham Razor and why we need to raise initial funding to pay for the mould tools. With support from crowdfunding we can ensure that the final cost of the product makes the Ockham Razor accessible to everyone.
At every stage of the development process we have done our best to choose the most appropriate tools for the job. 3D printing and die casting are just means towards the end. And that end, we hope, is a beautiful razor that you will cherish.