Bellypan waterjet pricing...?

What sort of pricing do other teams see for having a bellypan water-jetted?

I just got a quote for $2500 (!!). The only thing odd about the order was that I had them stencil our team number into it. Otherwise, it’s a 22x29 0.09 6061 aluminum rectangle with a few notches cut out of it on the sides.

Free, by sponsors.
Free, in house. (we are routing ours)
Free, using polycarb and a simple design with no pocketing. (can be done with a hand saw)
Free, not having one.

Now, those arent really free, but most teams are capable of doing at least one of those for very little expense.


TBH. I believe that most teams who have machining done for their robot, either have the equipment to do so, or it is free via sponsors.
I would suggest looking into how your team could make your own belly pan in-house with simple designs utilizing what you have access to. 9 times out of 10, there is no real need for a fancy belly pan, unless needed for frame strength.

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We got ourselves a CNC Router so it’s “free” for us.

Check out a local waterjet/laser/router place and see if they’ll cut a few things for you for free as a sponsor.

Granite and Aerospace places are more likely to have waterjets.

Aerospace, prototyping, manufacturing places are more likely to have laser cutters

Check out a cabinetry place, makerspace, or anyone that deals with wood for a CNC Router.

CNC Routers are cheap enough for teams to buy, so if you have it in the budget, I’d recommend going for that. It makes prototyping easier and turnaround time better


I would like to +1 the polycarb bellypan mentioned here. If you use 3/16" or 1/4" thick material, you can get very strong bellypans that are super easy to make. Polycarbonate cuts so easily on any Bandsaw, tablesaw, CNC router, or whatever else you have to cut stuff with (except for laser cutters, usually). We have been doing structural polycarbonate bellypans for years, and we will continue to in the future.

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Also, wood or very thin sheet metal will give you about the same structural stiffness as pocketed sheet metal for a similar weight. You can get them at most home improvement stores and you don’t need to pocket it. And a nice coat of spray paint turns the wood from looking janky to pretty decent.


Thanks everybody. I know that there are other ways to solve this particular problem. But, I’m really just asking what a reasonable price for that would be. Over $100? Over $200? Xometry gave me a quote for around $250. But, I know that they have a reputation for being quite expensive. (I know that the $2,500 was clearly some sort of error or screw up or something.)

sendcutsend has been the fastest and cheapest service for getting things like this cut in my experience. Maybe look into how much they charge for this.

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It may also be the shop telling you that they don’t really want the job.

Out of curiosity, is the use of the water jet something you asked for or what they offered?


1/4 is extremely thick. That would end up being over 6 pounds of belly pan. 1/8" firmly riveted around the perimeter will be half the weight, and will be acceptably tough for almost every use case. Assuming you avoid any sharp corners in the polycarbonate that will act as stress risers.


3/16" is usually our go to for bellypan. We want to be extra safe rather than sorry later. We have broken 1/8" polycarb bellypans in the past.

$2500 seems a little high. But. Commercial retail for the jet is about $190/hour. Maybe more. Lettering and little holes can consume a lot time. You have a set up fee and a fee to convert your part to a cutting program. They might be charging you for a full sheet of stock. It all adds up pretty quickly. Moral of the story: It pays to cultivate a relationship with somebody with a water jet.

Ask what the minimum charges are and what the charge is for a progression of numbers of pieces i.e. 1 piece, 2 pieces, 5 pieces, 10 pieces, 20 pieces, 50 pieces, 100 pieces. Some part of the per piece charge is a setup charge that is being amortized some number of pieces. Sometimes, they are charging for one whole piece of raw material even if you are using a small fraction of one piece so extra parts are almost free. There may also be some flat rate fee for processing your design file.

When buying prototype circuit boards, I can sometimes get many extra pieces by asking for a variety of quantities including many more than what I think I will need. I get prices like $50 each for 5 pieces = $250 total, $25 each for 10 pieces = $250 total, $20 each for 20 pieces = $400 total, $18 for 50 pieces = $900 total, etc. In this example, I would purchase 10 even if I really only needed 5.

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I think you’ve introduced me to my new favorite company. Prices are great, shipping is free, the service is fast. We received our first order yesterday (which we ordered on Saturday!), And the quality looks amazing, although we have not yet checked the hole sizes.

They advertise ground, but have been shipping to us 2-day from Nevada to NC. I don’t know if they’re making any money, but it’s a great service.

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Depending on if they supply material, size, and the total length of all of the cuts it can get pricey. we had a local shop do some drive train side plates for us a couple years ago and they were ~150 a piece (28"x10"x1/4") with a fair amount of cut outs. They also mentioned to us that the more “pierces” through the plate the more $ it can be, so for stuff we send out, we minimize the number of separate cutouts.

$2400 is quite high unless it had tons of cut outs in it.

Also check out

I haven’t used them before, but they will price out your cut instantly and I’ve heard they’re good

No bending however

I was going to recommend them too. If you like sendcutsend, you should like OSHCut just as much or more. I use them all the time at work. One tip: try adding as many different parts to the same order as you can, it often brings down the price of the individual parts.

Interesting. It looks like if I were to order in quantity, their prices would be substantially better. But, a single part that SCS did for $33 is $78 at OSH. On the other hand, OSH does do 7075 aluminum, which can be handy for things like gussets.

Bingo. There’s also some level of “if you’re in a rush and have big enough budget you won’t look too closely at the actual cost”.

Hence, at least in part, why Grangier’s coffee is about 3x the price of Walmart’s coffee.