Thursday, September 20, 2007

Are Dida Displays Coming Back?

Will these nice ladies be making Dida Displays with this nice big machine anytime soon? I sure hope so!

It's been a very, very long slow process of restarting this project. Many phone calls and emails and lots of waiting for people to "get back to me". The tools that were made for me by my former supplier were shipped to a new vendor in Southern California in July. Since then I've been waiting for them to make a hole punch die so that the panels of the displaysets will be perfectly aligned. This was the part that derailed the project the first time--the vendor didn't think they could accurately punch the holes and that's a pretty important part of the process, as I learned with the sample parts I hand punched with frustrating difficulty.

Anyway, due to various issues it's taken awhile to get the die made and have a test done, but last weekend on a trip south to visit my wife's family I stopped by to check things out. I was really pleased that the hole punch worked great and even better they installed the snaps with their snap machine and the results were outstanding. It will be somewhat more expensive to set them by machine but the quality will be much better. That last thing I want is to have people complaining about bad snaps on their Displaysets.

So now that I know the job can be done I have placed the order for a limited run of displayset pieces. I am still getting the new website together and finalizing prices and other details, so I am not making a huge announcement just yet. I worry that there's still something that will come up to derail this project again and I don't want to have to refund any money again.

The trip was also great because I got to see first hand what the tools look like for heat sealing these vinyl panels. This is the tool for making the Phone Booth (which will likely be delayed until next year. I want to do the display boxes first and they are complicated enough...). The seals are made with brass ruled bars that are bolted to a big metal plate. The plate fits in the big machine in the first photo. The layers of chipboard and vinyl are laid out by hand on the turntable which turns and puts the piece under the brass tool. A radio frequency runs through the seal bars and heat seals all the layers of vinyl together.

A lot of the expense is in manpower. There's no other way to do it that to lay out the layers of vinyl and board by hand into these guides they set up. With something like my project that's a lot of material, given the various tabs and panels I have. The factory itself is a noisy place hat smells heavily of fresh vinyl and chemicals, but people seem fairly happy. All the work I have ever done has been in offices on a computer, which is very cushy compared to this, but it's still cool to see something real made by hand in America.

So, unless these nice folks come to their sense and tell me to take my overly complicated dolly-boxes and go home I think I'll be back in the Displayset business soon. Stay tuned....