The Da-Lite screens were one of their cheapest materials, I do not think their sales were high enough to support that kind of expense with such a low-priced material. I know there are silly prices in the corporate world when it comes to specialized anything, it's just like the Pentagon or Nasa paying $1,000 for a single screw.You don’t get a lot these days for a million dollars when it comes to special purpose high speed manufacturing equipment.
I just wish to figure out how to create a good retro-reflective material, not trying to become a screen manufacturer.
Standard screen material is just non-textured PVC or a similar material. This is extremely cheap, the only expense is applying a surface.
Look at a piece of posterboard, it's perfectly flat with no texture and the cheapest pieces costs 33 cents (and that's after Walmart's markup). Most screen materials aren't expensive to manufacture. They spend most of the money on marketing, not manufacturing. It's a low volume item, so the MFR's overcharge on any screen material that they can convince the public is 'worth it'. Screen prices are primarily based on reputation and the ability for people to sell them, rather than cost of production. As with anything, I'm sure there are exceptions.
As far as the $200 to $300 screens by SI, ST, and Elite. Well, those come with a frame and the MFR's have to eat a lot of the shipping costs. So the cost is the frame and the shipping, not the material of the screen.