As I start to “dabble with Arduino”:http://theludwigs.com/2012/03/starting-to-dabble-with-arduino/, I am also thinking about other aspects of my projects beyond the simple assembly and programming of Arduino-based systems.
I know I will need some plastic elements — bases, screens, etc. You can get any kind of plastic cut to any size at sites like “Tap Plastic”:http://www.tapplastics.com/ and they have a store here in town if I need even more service — and the store has a great rejects bin if all you need is a hunk of something and you aren’t picking about color, size, etc. (Kind of an aside, but if you need foam-based products, “Foamorder”:http://www.foamorder.com/ will set you up with pretty much any foam product in any shape, and with a huge variety of fabric covers.)
If I need more than just an unfinished piece of plastic, or if I need metal parts, it is super easy to get plastic and metal parts made online — for instance “emachineshop”:http://www.emachineshop.com/. Just upload your drawings, get instant quotes, place an order.
I’m happy right now with the various boards provided by some of the Arduino shops, but if I need custom circuit boards? There are a jillion choices like “Pad2Pad”:http://www.pad2pad.com/.
One thing I am not easily finding online is wood fabrication. I don’t have a shop so I can’t lathe/route/mill wood. I am happy to finish it here but I want someone to do the heavy machinery for me. Can’t seem to find a vendor. Is wood just too finicky for people to take on? Or is woodworking gear so available, woodworking services so widespread, that I can easily pick up something locally? Or are all the woodworkers focused on higher value-add pieces like furniture (plug here for “Kim’s shop on Etsy”:http://www.etsy.com/shop/McIntyreFurniture)?