The author went into this stating he'd be willing to pay for their tooling... then is sticker-shocked when they quote him for so. It's like the author went into this thinking they'd pay a few hundred bucks (for the custom tooling) and get a short fab run (< 100) back out. These factories aren't going to tool-up unless they're about to produce thousands... it doesn't matter if it's PCB's, connectors, action figures, jewelry display stands, etc. It's not worth their time at small scale.
The reason these connectors are difficult to find (if possible at all) is people aren't buying them... so you have to make it worth the factory's time to custom fab them for you. And if they think you're going to be a one-time-run, then you aren't going to get as good of a price as if you signed some long-term production agreement (10,000 a month for 12 months, etc...),
He also didn't go about finding a fab in the best way.. he went to Alibaba which is essentially the Amazon of factories... definitely not the "best price" you can get.
Going to Alibaba is like shopping on Amazon. You wouldn't go to Amazon to purchase bulk (> 10,000) pieces of some item... you certainly aren't getting the best deal. Amazon takes a cut (so does Alibaba), and retailers listing there have catered their prices towards end-users (so significant mark-ups).
If it were me, I'd post on electrical engineering forums and ask who people recommend for fab jobs. Sometimes a nice supplier/distributor will tell you who they use for fab jobs (but a lot do tend to guard this).
Alibaba just isn't the best way to get the best price...
I can appreciate your sarcasm here, but it's not constructive and doesn't change the economics of custom fabrication.
These factories don't sit around waiting to get small-time jobs to fab a handful of some custom components.
Even easier would be finding out what material the insert is made of and getting the connectors milled to shape and drilled for the contacts. Fun problem!
Steve, are you listening :-)
Would you accept a consulting gig if it was a one-off job, required a 2 hour commute in both directions, and you expected to be onsite for only 1 hour? Maybe...
You might accept if you were really desperate to get any job, or you might accept if your contract pays for your commute time and expenses. But if neither of those conditions are met, you would probably turn it down as it wouldn't be worth your time.
This is over-simplifying this a bit, but it's along the lines of how the factories view this sort of thing.
The author is asking them to spend more time and expense tooling up than they will in actual production (your 4 hour commute round-trip). If they were already tooled for this component (you lived in the same city), then they'd be more open and provide a better rate (you charging just your on-site fee). But since those conditions are not met, they will make you foot the bill for tooling (you charging for your commute and expenses), especially since the likelihood of some other buyer coming along and commissioning this component are very slim (the consulting gig is a one-off).
The parts you get are espensive and don't have the same chains of paperwork and may have been mishandled.
There is a problem that you can end up bidding against yourself and driving the price up.
Those guys will skin you alive if they can. I'd almost rather take my chances making a production run... almost.
Yeah... but... I think it's kind of obvious. Not sure where the line is between "enticing" and "bait" but BMOW isn't selling crap, so it's not like you had to tolerate some nasty popup surprise or ad spam or anything.
>he went to Alibaba which is essentially the Amazon of factories... definitely not the "best price" you can get.
Good enough for a first approximation. Maybe he'll at least figure out that he can probably bargain that down quite a bit.
If he needs 1,000 connectors, that's $11 per connector. That's a little expensive, but not outlandish.
Obviously, he knows his volumes and we don't. But, he's spending probably spent almost $2K-$3K buying up the worldwide stock of these. How many more does he need to sell before that $11K is reasonable?
That variability in pricing is already a bit scary but going from $2 to $11 is something you'd only do in extreme need.
The last time I had a connector I needed, they took something they had off the shelf, milled it, stuffed it with different pins, and charged me $100 for 5.
I was stunned. I haven't had customer service that good in decades.
Really. Call them. Even better, take a factory tour.
They may not be able to do it, but they have 30 years of designs archived. One of them will probably work.
That's basically permanent.
While this would be a no-go for a 'regular' product, it would be perfectly acceptable for the niche application - floppy emulators for old personal computers - these connectors are used for.
I wouldn't be shocked if you paid them and got the first parts and had a problem.
Then they will point to your lack of tolerance or chamfer specs or somesuch and then want more money to modify the tool.
Or maybe I'm just a packrat.
1 wrench $6
100 wrenches $12
I now have a box of 100 allen wrenches all the same size.
There are a couple other comments   that touch on this. But it does seem like there are some shortcuts that could be taken with DB-25 connectors. Anyone who's still manufacturing them (which may not be many) might be able to modify their tooling to not add 6 pins on one side and not add the protective cowling.
Is it a safe, strong connector? No.
Would it cost $11k in tooling? I have no idea I'm a biologist.
It'll be interesting to see what he settles on.
edit: Ha, he's already doing that: http://www.bigmessowires.com/2015/02/01/designing-a-db-19-su...
Connector tolerances are very tight. That's why intermittent electrical connections are mostly a thing of the past.
Getting a longer D-sub connector and machining the plastic down is more likely to work. 3D printing isn't magic.
This is a blog about how a citizen in a developed country is "shocked" at the concept that other people should be paid a fair wage even if - gasp - they're Chinese.