The use of these materials is only beginning to reach the volume stage where a few local hobby supply stores can afford to carry reasonably complete stocks, but it requires only a little more demand and a little more education of dealers to bring this desirable situation to pass. Rough plastic material, with samples of finished articles made from it, make such a colorful and interesting display in a dealer's window or on his counter ; that no dealer should have any difficulty in building up a steady . supply of plastics business, which brings in its train a constant repeat demand for findings, supplies, tools and more materials i that can be developed into a very lucrative business. Moreover, the first dealer in any town who stocks this material builds for himself a reputation of being "headquarters" for new and interesting hobby and craft material, and it is therefore well worth while for the hobby supply shop to give this matter serious consideration.
The new dealer likewise has his difficulties with the problem of stock, but these are much less than those of the individual. The dealer, much less than the plastic companies cannot of course carry anything like a full stock, but he can carry a supply of "project kits" and "experimental kits" with which his customers can get acquainted with the material, since these-are what 90% of the first-time buyers want. Then following this he can have a skeleton stock of one piece each of three or four different colors in the most common shapes, such as each thickness of sheet, four or five sizes of rod, and cylinders, scotties, ring-shapes. Then when the customer comes in, he can see what is on hand on the shelf, mentally re-design his project to use the color and size on hand, and go away happy. If a specified color and shape must be obtained, the dealer can take the order, and by reason of the fact that he orders in larger quantities than the individual get better delivery. As his volume of business grows, he can gradually build up a more complete stock, and have a better opportunity to substitute colors with greater satisfaction to the customer than can the plastics company, a thousand miles away.
How To Purchase Economically It goes without saying that the material for quantity of any one item is less expensive per unit than when material for only one is being purchased. The reason for this fact in plastics is different however from the usual reasons, being that the plastics companies manufacture certain standard sizes, and will fill orders with full pieces only, never a portion of a standard size. Since most projects require only some fraction of a standard piece, it is therefore sometimes necessary to buy enough for four articles in order to be able to make one. This is an unfortunate situation that cannot be gotten around, as far as the individual craftsman is concerned, but in one way it is a good thing in that it enables him to gradually build up a stock of material to have on hand when needed for a new project.
The craftsman planning a single project therefore would do well to study the size-list carefully and select a size and shape that will best serve his purpose without undue waste, and if it is found impossible to buy a small enough amount of material of the size desired, to plan to make up a number of identical pieces, or additional pieces which will make use of the particular sizes and colors he is ordering.
The school on the other hand has a much simpler problem, as it usually works out that material for thirty or more identical projects is being ordered at one time, for all the members of a class. In such cases, a little study devoted to the size-list and study of the project in hand will show how many pieces can be gotten out of a standard piece, and a little arithmetic will show how many pieces are needed. If it is a jig-sawed project, the pattern should be cut out, and traced on a piece of paper the size of a standard plastic sheet, to see how many can be cut from one sheet, and so on. Plastic projects can be figured out that cost as little as one cent per student, on up to several dollars, depending on the weight of material, from an ear-ring to a table-lamp. In figuring projects which are to be sliced from a long rod or shape, always allow for the amount of material lost in the sawing. Beginner's projects should be quite simple, consisting merely of cutting-off and finishing, while projects for advanced machine-shop students can be quite complicated, involving all of the standard machine shop practises, such as turning, facing, boring, drilling, threading and finishing, all in the same project. By observing the rules of design given earlier in this chapter (and you can be sure these rules are being followed if you choose the design of some commercial article in plastics as a model or pattern) you can provide a greater amount of work, practise and study, involving more different machining operations and training, by using plastics than by using any other material, as it works so rapidly that all the various machining operations can be performed in a much shorter time, and with lighter equipment, than the same operations performed on metals.
Summarizing the rules for purchasing plastics economically: (1) make it easy for the plastics companies to fill your orders by permitting substitution in colors or sizes, (2) order enough material if possible to insure your order going through the plant "on its own" without waiting for other larger orders to carry it through, (3) design your project so that it will economically cut out of an available shape, and do not waste weight that will not be seen, and (4) depend on color and brilliance of finish, rather than plain "bulk".
If these rules are followed, it will be found that plastics will yield greater results in beauty, sense of accomplishment and utility than any other crafts material.