Prototypes and Short runs of a High-Volume Industrial Process

I recently saw a potential demand for a product that was essentially a seamless rectangular metal cup, about 1″ x 3″ on the open end and about 4″ deep.  This sounded like a job for a process called “deep drawing.”  In this process, a flat sheet of metal is punched through a die to form a cup shape.

Great, all I need are a few prototypes to verify the design, then a few tens of pieces for some tentative test marketing, and finally perhaps a few thousand a year for production.  One problem: for a deep drawn part, a “short run” is considered “less than 60,000 pieces.”  I could find only one company that could actually deliver sample parts, but none of their standard sizes were close enough to what I needed.

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