LIFE ON TITAN
Different pilots will go into manufacturing for different reasons. There are three overall styles of manufacturing:
Personal -- This style of manufacturing is for the pilot that wants to make goods for his own use. Make weapons that you specifically want at a huge discount. Produce hard to find CompComp and Cells for trading with Downtown Moths. The key is that selling your manufactured items is not a high priority.
Wholesale -- This is the way to make big money fast. You produce items to sell at retailers. Example: You make hard to find Sprats and sell them to Psycho Bob for a whopping profit. You only sell to the public at a higher price than you could get from the retailers you supply. Buying raw materials is a big issue here. You have to buy high and make your own supply runs. You also have to pay attention to the ratio of raw materials you need.
Retail -- You make items for the public to buy. You compete with the likes of Psycho Bob and Waterfront booze. You buy your raw materials high and sell your finished products low. This can be supplemented with some wholesaling to your competition. Retailing is not only fun, it's the way to make your business the next Microsoft or Wal-Mart in Misplaced Optimism.
Locating your hangar depends on the manufacturing style you prefer. In general, you need a high traffic area with a hangar that's easy to enter. Pirates can work for or against you. They can keep traders from supplying you, but can make for a lot of free booty you can use.
If you're only producing products for your own use, it really doesn't matter where your hangar is located. You might want to consider locating near someone that can buy any overstocks you produce.
If you are planning to wholesale, it's very convenient to locate near businesses that will purchase your goods. This cuts down on attacking pirates when you are running your finsihed goods to your retail customers. (If you have to jettison, it's better to jettison the less expensive raw materials.) If you are making and selling Sprats, locate Downtown near one of, or between, the two Psycho Bobs. Wholesaling Alcohol? Try locating in Riverside or Gamma near the bars. Ideally you'd locate near good suppliers and buyers.
Retailing requires that you consider two things when locating your hangar. First, you want to be away from your competition. Secondly, you want to be near raw material suppliers. Being near the businesses that buy your finished product is a plus, too. But, that's the trader's problem.
Want to retail Alcohol? Locate in Downtown. It's far away from your competition (Waterfront Booze) and very near a good supplier of raw materials (Sewage Control). It's also near a lot of bars. Being away from your competition is your highest priority.
Remember that you can always supply yourself and sell your goods wholesale.
No matter what style of production you follow, you'll want to protect your raw materials from being bought by traders. The same goes for reserving some of your finished goods for you own use. Say you want to produce Sprats for your own use, but are willing to sell some excess Sprats. You need a way to reserve what you want to keep for yourself.
Below are the best methods for protecting your stock:
Private Hangar -- The most straighforward way to protect your stock is to make your hangar private. An alternative is to buy another hangar to put your "reserve stock" in. This alternative hangar is set to private.
Overpricing -- Grossly overprice items in your "Sales" menu that you don't want others buying. Traders won't sell at a loss, so this works even during shortages. The key is to make the price ridiculously high.
Podding -- Get a pod and load your reserved stocks into it. Then remove the pod. To make sure no one buys your pod (and good within), grossly overprice that type of pod in your "Sales". This saves you having to overprice several items. Just put stuff you want to keep in your "storage pod".
You can get raw materials two ways. You can run out and get them yourself, or you can purchase them from traders. The price you pay for raw materials should be based on what others are paying for the same items. You can quickly find out the price range using the nearest trading post's "Needs" list.
Using this as a base, you can buy low or high as needed. Buying high is needed to get a trader's attention and business. Rarely traded items, like Fusion Parts or Pods, can be purchased at the lower cost -- even below the "Needs" list price.
Always protect your raw materials using one of the methods previously mentioned. You don't want to find out that traders have raided your manufacturing stocks for their own profit.
You can also manufacture you own raw materials. An Ore Processor can make the Sheet Metal and ExMetal that your Munitions Machinery needs. You can also sell excess metals for profit.
As a rule, AI traders prefer the cheapest source of any item. Use the raw materials lists to calculate a good price. Figure out how much cash you've got in an item's raw materials. Always charge more than that or you're losing money. Now price your manufactured products a little below your competition.
You can find out your competion's prices by either visiting them, or by checking the "Sales" list at the trading post nearest the competitor. A 10% discount won't do much, but a 20% discount will really drive in the traders.
You can raise your prices if you're manfacturing something that's in low supply and needed. A good example is Sprats. There's a chroninc shortage of Sprats that begins around Day 3 or so. Once your competition (like Psycho Bobs) starts running out of Sprats, its time to raise the price. Try to overcharge from the average price. Other products you can make that are victim to shortages are Sheet Metal, ExMetal, and CompComp.
You can create a shortage by buying out your competition. Say you want to corner the Swarms market. Create a shortage by buying out your competiton. Now view a "Needs" list to see what they're offering for Swarms. Go back to your hangar and set your "Purchasing" menu to offer more for Swarms. This will cut off their supply.
Finally, exploit the shortage to the fullest by selling your Swarms for $4500+. You'll get your money back and more.
Another factor that allows you to raise your prices is location. If you are closer to buyers that your competition, you might get more for you goods. Not much more, mind you, but a little more. Shortages are your best friend.
If you're rich enough to buy out Waterfront Booze, you can set yourself up as a near monopoly. In theory, you should be able to create a monopoly, but in practice, I've not been able to do it. Give it a try.