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The cost of molding tail light lenses. by retroman
Started on: 07-10-2014 11:25 PM
Replies: 101 (3878 views)
Last post by: dobey on 04-21-2015 09:20 AM
retroman
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Report this Post07-10-2014 11:25 PM Click Here to See the Profile for retromanClick Here to Email retromanSend a Private Message to retromanEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
I lost my original thread, but I did do some checking with the plastics company I work for, and one of the experts in product development is estimating $20,000+ to mold new lenses close to the way GM did. He said he could do it in a 3D printer, but the finished product is generally weaker than molding. Also, clear plastic is more difficult to get perfection with, and the company doesn't do a lot of it. Just thought I'd throw this out there in case anyone was curious.
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Report this Post07-11-2014 12:43 AM Click Here to See the Profile for dobeySend a Private Message to dobeyEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Yeah, it's not cheap.
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Report this Post07-11-2014 11:17 AM Click Here to See the Profile for no2pencilClick Here to Email no2pencilSend a Private Message to no2pencilEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
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Report this Post07-11-2014 02:40 PM Click Here to See the Profile for CsjagClick Here to Email CsjagSend a Private Message to CsjagEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
retroman will advances in 3d printing eventually make it feasible to use one and get good quality?
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Report this Post07-11-2014 02:56 PM Click Here to See the Profile for IMSA GTClick Here to Email IMSA GTSend a Private Message to IMSA GTEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
There will never be a good replacement lens unless the process is done like GM or the way the Fiero Store's vendor reproduced them. Using resins will recreate the lens just fine but they will be very brittle and eventually crack. Any of the standard "plastics" or 3D printed materials will not last under harsh weather conditions over a period of time. The only way to properly do these is the original way and that is not worth the money unless someone MAYBE wants to break even or take a loss for the Fiero community.
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Report this Post07-11-2014 03:43 PM Click Here to See the Profile for 88FieroGT TTopsClick Here to Email 88FieroGT TTopsSend a Private Message to 88FieroGT TTopsEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
the mold is the killer-

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Report this Post07-11-2014 04:02 PM Click Here to See the Profile for theogreClick Here to visit theogre's HomePageSend a Private Message to theogreEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Is very hard to get clear plastic that last and flow in a mold w/o allot of deflects.
Lens/covers must stand long term UV, Acid/polluted rain, Road Salt, take some abuse from from things getting into trunk and engine bay, take cleaners/waxes.

Apple's "Cube" CPU and others had/have a long history of problem w/ clear cases.
Just Look at many HL made in 90s and early 2Ks that turned gray/yellow. Many time no help but replacing hosed lenses.

3D printers have issues in general. Making a big clear object w/o big deflect is no small thing.

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Report this Post07-11-2014 04:02 PM Click Here to See the Profile for infinitewillSend a Private Message to infinitewillEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
..

[This message has been edited by infinitewill (edited 04-08-2015).]

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Report this Post07-11-2014 04:05 PM Click Here to See the Profile for infinitewillSend a Private Message to infinitewillEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post

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[This message has been edited by infinitewill (edited 04-08-2015).]

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Report this Post07-11-2014 06:58 PM Click Here to See the Profile for seajaiSend a Private Message to seajaiEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Just out of curiosity, how were the GM originals made? Injection molding? Draw molding? How was the black lettering done? How much would it cost to do it the same way as GM did 25 years ago?
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Report this Post07-11-2014 07:15 PM Click Here to See the Profile for infinitewillSend a Private Message to infinitewillEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
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[This message has been edited by infinitewill (edited 04-08-2015).]

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Report this Post07-11-2014 07:21 PM Click Here to See the Profile for 88FieroGT TTopsClick Here to Email 88FieroGT TTopsSend a Private Message to 88FieroGT TTopsEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
I read on another thread the guy who HAD the original molds and made the repro's for Fierostore destroyed the molds----makes you wonder....

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Report this Post07-11-2014 07:56 PM Click Here to See the Profile for cam-a-lotSend a Private Message to cam-a-lotEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
I have built tail lens molds. Your figures are not even close to reality. Just another pipe dream.. like an all aluminum space frame.. It would cost over $100,000 to design and build proper injection molds to make these tail lights. Complete money pit unfortunately

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Report this Post07-11-2014 09:42 PM Click Here to See the Profile for seajaiSend a Private Message to seajaiEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
It just amazes me how expensive it is. What makes it so expensive? The material to make the mold? The design and machining time to build the mold? I would assume the injection machinery already exists and a metal mold is made to fit inside. Does it really take that many hours to design and build a working mold? Seems to me somebody is making a truckload of profit molding plastic parts.
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Report this Post07-11-2014 10:01 PM Click Here to See the Profile for infinitewillSend a Private Message to infinitewillEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
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Report this Post07-12-2014 02:26 AM Click Here to See the Profile for seqClick Here to Email seqSend a Private Message to seqEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by infinitewill:


Years ago I was told that tool steel was $100 per cubic in. The steel has to be machined and water jacketed for proper cooling, flow, etc. I would imagine the tooling is twice that today, however the machining has to be more efficient with CNC . It isn't unusual for a tool to run 1,000,000 cycles before rework. But if the tool isn't running, it isn't making any money.


1,000,000 cycles is a little excessive when according to this thread about production numbers, there were only 40470 GT Fastbacks made.

I don't even want to figure out how many of those are still on the road, how many don't need replacements, or how many are happy with alternative tail lights.

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Report this Post07-12-2014 08:48 AM Click Here to See the Profile for infinitewillSend a Private Message to infinitewillEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
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Report this Post07-12-2014 12:55 PM Click Here to See the Profile for CsjagClick Here to Email CsjagSend a Private Message to CsjagEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
I am amazed it is so expensive. I bought a 2004 Chevy Venture van a few months ago that had faded and scratched headlight assembly's. I was able to buy brand new entire headlight lens assembly's as well as new parking/ turn signal lens assembly's for $125 total price from Rock auto and they look great.
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Report this Post07-12-2014 01:07 PM Click Here to See the Profile for IMSA GTClick Here to Email IMSA GTSend a Private Message to IMSA GTEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
I keep hearing stories about the Fiero Store molds and how the vendor just destroyed them. If this is the case, my guess is that GM found out that he was reproducing items with the "Pontiac" name and forced him with legal action to destroy the molds. I wish I could find out the truth......or at least the location of the molds.
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Report this Post07-12-2014 01:17 PM Click Here to See the Profile for no2pencilClick Here to Email no2pencilSend a Private Message to no2pencilEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by seq:
1,000,000 cycles is a little excessive when according to this thread about production numbers, there were only 40470 GT Fastbacks made.

& an extra set for every one (NOS?) doubles 40 to 80, & I'm sure with repair tool & die, R & D, you could pull out another 20+ shots.

When I used to work in a factory we had an issue with 'crisper drawers' that we made for Whirpool. Someone in the front office had an extra zero on the production number, & to make the delivery date we had to make them so fast that we were causing more scrap units than usable ones. Management didn't care, said we had to keep it ramped up. By the time the error was discovered, we were already way over quota, & the office person I'm sure was given a cardboard box.

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Report this Post07-12-2014 01:23 PM Click Here to See the Profile for mrfred8Click Here to visit mrfred8's HomePageSend a Private Message to mrfred8Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by IMSA GT:

I keep hearing stories about the Fiero Store molds and how the vendor just destroyed them. If this is the case, my guess is that GM found out that he was reproducing items with the "Pontiac" name and forced him with legal action to destroy the molds. I wish I could find out the truth......or at least the location of the molds.


Fierostore licenses the logo and name from GM.
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Report this Post07-12-2014 02:06 PM Click Here to See the Profile for IMSA GTClick Here to Email IMSA GTSend a Private Message to IMSA GTEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by mrfred8:


Fierostore licenses the logo and name from GM.


But they don't physically make the parts. Their vendor makes them so I wonder if the licensing doesn't apply to the vendor. Plus I don't know if they have the license for the name "Pontiac" or just the "Fiero" and its logos. I don't believe they have ANY parts that say "Pontiac" other than the taillights so that may have been the loophole.
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Report this Post07-12-2014 02:34 PM Click Here to See the Profile for mrfred8Click Here to visit mrfred8's HomePageSend a Private Message to mrfred8Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by IMSA GT:


But they don't physically make the parts. Their vendor makes them so I wonder if the licensing doesn't apply to the vendor. Plus I don't know if they have the license for the name "Pontiac" or just the "Fiero" and its logos. I don't believe they have ANY parts that say "Pontiac" other than the taillights so that may have been the loophole.


Here is the word from the Fierostore years ago when asked:

"I am very sorry but we only have a few of the passenger side lenses left. The company that made
them went out of business without telling us and the molds were lost.

Please let us know if you have any other questions or concerns.

Thank you,
Matt
The Fiero Store - The World's Largest Source of Fiero Parts"
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Report this Post07-12-2014 03:49 PM Click Here to See the Profile for dobeySend a Private Message to dobeyEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by no2pencil:
& an extra set for every one (NOS?) doubles 40 to 80, & I'm sure with repair tool & die, R & D, you could pull out another 20+ shots.


That number was ~40K, so even at 80K, and doing another 20K on top of that, it's still only at 100K, which is only 10% of the 1M cycles the molds would be made to handle. And as infinitewill already said, it's irrelevant to the cost of the mold itself. You probably aren't going to find someone who would make a mold that would only handle half as many cycles and have it be half the cost. Even if you did manage to, the cost would still be incredibly excessive to service the needs of the Fiero community.

The only way you'd be able to make up for the cost is if you were a large after market head/tail light manufacturer like Spyder Auto, where you'd sell enough lights for some other vehicles to make up for the cost of the Fiero lights. And I don't know if they even sell enough other stuff to cover the costs of making lights for such a small market.
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Report this Post07-12-2014 07:02 PM Click Here to See the Profile for no2pencilClick Here to Email no2pencilSend a Private Message to no2pencilEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by dobey:
That number was ~40K, so even at 80K, and doing another 20K on top of that, it's still only at 100K, which is only 10% of the 1M cycles the molds would be made to handle.

Oops, I got confused with the commas :P My mistake.
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Report this Post07-13-2014 08:35 AM Click Here to See the Profile for CsjagClick Here to Email CsjagSend a Private Message to CsjagEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Too bad GM doesn't offer better replacement parts support for their older cars.
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Report this Post07-13-2014 09:21 AM Click Here to See the Profile for Old LarSend a Private Message to Old LarEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
The newest Fiero is 26 years old, GM (before bankruptcy) would never be able to stock all the miscellaneous parts for all their cars over the past 26 years.

Years ago, I found a guy who had a barn full of 1930s-50s NOS pars that he had purchased from an old Chevy dealership that had closed down. Many parts were still wrapped in paper. His problem was that he had no idea what cars the parts went to. There were stalls full of stainless molding pieces and body parts. I wanted front fenders for the 47 Chevy I had at the time.

Unless you can find out where the various closed Pontiac dealers sent their old stock, you are SOL. When I located some NOS GT sail panels, my local dealer found a pair somewhere, but that was 15 or more years ago.

Some 10 years ago the parts guy at a Pontiac dealer found a Wisconsin company that bought up old GM stock, but have since lost that location as at that time I needed the brace that mounts the top of the aero nose for a Fiero. The cost of the shipping was 2X the cost of the part.

I did post the company's name etc on PFF and it is in the archive files, but I don't remember how I named it and have not been able to locate it.
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Report this Post07-13-2014 11:10 AM Click Here to See the Profile for hcfordeClick Here to Email hcfordeSend a Private Message to hcfordeEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
The tail light section could be broken up into sections except the clear lens part. The molds could also be made from aluminum which would decrease the cost. In molding a clear product, the big issue is the polished finish of the molds(steel holds a better polish than aluminum). However, being a short run, the molds could be considerably smaller than the "size of an automobile" with good cooling, and a longer cool down time between cycles, and could be easily re-polished after a certain number of cycles(high polish also helps with the ejection of the part). Big, high volume plastic companies take different approaches than short-run, prototype companies. That being said the pressure required to push polycarbonate/Lexan is quite high, as is the clamp pressure(what is required to keep the molds together while the the molten plastic is being pushed in)

The other way to do this though would be vacuum forming and eliminate the high upfront cost. It would take some work afterwards of trimming, adhesion of clips and such, or a whole new mounting system could be developed. This would be less of a financial risk but a slightly lower quality product unless the customer took care of the finishing by doing it him/herself.
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Report this Post07-13-2014 11:47 AM Click Here to See the Profile for CsjagClick Here to Email CsjagSend a Private Message to CsjagEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
What about the tinted taillight covers that are for sale in the aftermarket for other cars, how are they produced? Couldn't just the covers be replaced?
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Report this Post07-13-2014 12:57 PM Click Here to See the Profile for fierogtlt1Click Here to Email fierogtlt1Send a Private Message to fierogtlt1Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Csjag:

What about the tinted taillight covers that are for sale in the aftermarket for other cars, how are they produced? Couldn't just the covers be replaced?



Those kind are vacuum formed.
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Report this Post07-13-2014 01:19 PM Click Here to See the Profile for dobeySend a Private Message to dobeyEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Csjag:

What about the tinted taillight covers that are for sale in the aftermarket for other cars, how are they produced? Couldn't just the covers be replaced?


They're just tinted lexan pieces mostly. Ones that are curved are either vacuum formed, or just bent from straight lexan pieces. Full light assemblies from Spyder Auto and similar, use the same or similar process as OEM assemblies.
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Report this Post04-08-2015 11:04 AM Click Here to See the Profile for jc8367Click Here to Email jc8367Send a Private Message to jc8367Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Yes I'm a tail light lens dreamer.

Does anybody have a CAD drawing of the GT light lens and is anyone aware of a patent? I checked uspto & https://www.google.com/sear...l=en&tbm=pts&start=0 and found some stuff around injection molding but that's it.
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Report this Post04-08-2015 11:10 AM Click Here to See the Profile for dobeySend a Private Message to dobeyEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by jc8367:

Yes I'm a tail light lens dreamer.

Does anybody have a CAD drawing of the GT light lens and is anyone aware of a patent? I checked uspto & https://www.google.com/sear...l=en&tbm=pts&start=0 and found some stuff around injection molding but that's it.


That's cool, but please don't go spamming all the old tail light lens threads with the same message. It just brings them all to the top, and doesn't help, especially since you've also created your own thread already with the exact same post. All you're doing is spamming.
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Report this Post04-08-2015 11:50 AM Click Here to See the Profile for lorennerolSend a Private Message to lorennerolEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Csjag:

Too bad GM doesn't offer better replacement parts support for their older cars.


The hood for my Saturn Sky was made on a hydroforming press in the Wilmington plant. Within a few months of stopping production, GM sold the press for scrap and the entire inventory of spare parts in the plant. So owners with cars still under warranty have discovered that GM has no replacement parts for their cars. Even through the car is 20 years newer, Sky hoods are harder to find that Excellent condition GT tail lights.

I love my Fiero and my Sky, but I will never buy another GM car.
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Report this Post04-08-2015 12:10 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Fiero84FreakClick Here to Email Fiero84FreakSend a Private Message to Fiero84FreakEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Having owned and dealt with many fastback GTs, I feel that eventually they're going to be the car where the owner(s) will have to "deal" with the costs of tail lights. They are incredibly large; one of the largest tail light assemblies I can recall off the top of my head on a production car of this size and cost. In hindsight they probably were not the best design from an aftermarket and owners-dealing-with-issues point, but rarely does it seem that auto manufacturers take that into account.

I feel that in that thinking though it's simply going to mean that many owners who do not want to shell out the hundreds and hundreds and now into thousands USD as we've seen in recent eBay auctions for tail lights deal with will simply have to seek alternatives. Fiberglass alternatives using other make and/or model tail lights will probably become more feasible alternatives; I'm thinking of the ones that use Corvette style lenses. I've also for sure seen two instances of fastbacks carrying both 1st Gen Eclipse and R32 Skyline tail lights as replacements. None of these will be viable from a hardcore enthusiasts' or collector's stand point, but remember that many Fiero owners are on fairly strict budgets, and often $400-$500 for something to build that you can continue to get replacements for works out a lot better than +$1,000 with relative unknowns.

Another thing I'd like to point out is this won't be limited to just fastbacks. I've notice that even good conditioned notchback tail lights are starting to creep up. Back in 2008 I sold a near perfect set of notchback tail lights for $25. I figure no way to find a good set that cheap nowadays.
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Report this Post04-08-2015 01:04 PM Click Here to See the Profile for jscott1Send a Private Message to jscott1Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by lorennerol:


The hood for my Saturn Sky was made on a hydroforming press in the Wilmington plant. Within a few months of stopping production, GM sold the press for scrap and the entire inventory of spare parts in the plant. So owners with cars still under warranty have discovered that GM has no replacement parts for their cars. Even through the car is 20 years newer, Sky hoods are harder to find that Excellent condition GT tail lights.

I love my Fiero and my Sky, but I will never buy another GM car.


The old GM broke the law. They are required to stock those parts for 10 years. Since they were on the verge of bankruptcy they sold everything they possibly could. That was a bad time to buy GM. They new GM is probably better than that.
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Report this Post04-08-2015 01:45 PM Click Here to See the Profile for jaskispyderSend a Private Message to jaskispyderEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by lorennerol:


The hood for my Saturn Sky was made on a hydroforming press in the Wilmington plant. Within a few months of stopping production, GM sold the press for scrap and the entire inventory of spare parts in the plant. So owners with cars still under warranty have discovered that GM has no replacement parts for their cars. Even through the car is 20 years newer, Sky hoods are harder to find that Excellent condition GT tail lights.

I love my Fiero and my Sky, but I will never buy another GM car.


I was curious... but I found this. It seems that the hood is available from many GM sources. Is there a different hood that is in short supply?

http://www.gmpartsnow.com/oe-gm/15225634
http://www.gmpartsgiant.com...m-hood-15225634.html
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lorennerol
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quote
Originally posted by jaskispyder:


I was curious... but I found this. It seems that the hood is available from many GM sources. Is there a different hood that is in short supply?

http://www.gmpartsnow.com/oe-gm/15225634
http://www.gmpartsgiant.com...m-hood-15225634.html


Well, I don't know the part number so can't say for sure that's it. If they did have them now that would be great, but it makes me wonder where they came from, since the press was scrapped.

The Solstice hoods were different and were conventionally stamped.
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Raydar
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Report this Post04-08-2015 06:40 PM Click Here to See the Profile for RaydarClick Here to Email RaydarSend a Private Message to RaydarEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Since everyone else is commenting here, I might as well, too.

Why not make similar - but not exact - tail lights, in 3 pieces. An opaque center piece, and left and right lenses. The 3rd gen Firebird tail lights are, I believe, constructed this way.
Let the people who want the concours quality show cars pay the bucks for the original lenses. The rest of us (I suspect) would be more than willing to "make do". I know that I would.
This would also provide another option for those who aren't interested in Ferrari or Corvette style lights.
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