I always assumed manufacturing cost was closer to a dollar or two / blade, but I'm not an engineer.
How do you break down your $30 / pair estimate?
It is not in the blade manufacturer's interests to completely describe the manufacturing process.
A person who visited the factory said MK and Wilson now use lasers for all upper level ("grade 1") blades, and I think the same is true of Ultima. I'm not sure about MK grade 2 blades, like the MK 2000. An old source says the upper level blades are then silver soldered to the mounting plates, though maybe Ultima Matrix 2 are riveted? The MK/Wilson visitor source says there is a 3 step hardening/tempering/edge hardening process (the last omitted from grade 2 blades), though the first hardening is at the steel factory. He says the final factory grind is done by hand, with a large fast wheel, which I guess must add at least $0.25 - $0.50 to the cost. I'm not sure if my source said the grind was before or after the edge hardening.
Hardening and tempering is apparently a complex process which involves carefully controlled dangerous high temperatures. So making your own from scrap metal with a saw and grinding tools is beyond what most of us can do, if you want the blade to last long.
If you find a source of properly hardened blanks, I would love to know about it!
It is difficult to get reliable information about what blade and toepick shapes are supposed to do what best. Various sources are happy to give vague speculations extrapolated from aerodynamic and hydrodynamic domains, but the big reputable blade companies don't actually say that a given model blade turns better or jumps better than another, or in what ways. I would love to experiment with cheap blanks. I've started to experiment with one of my Ultima Matrix runner pairs, but they weren't all that cheap and can't be replaced anymore.
I like Sid Broadbent's idea of screwing any of several toepicks designs onto various blades, at user selected height. Not sure when it will be offered. His stuff is not cheap, and he may just be using modified MK blades.
Now if only the blade itself can cost a few dollars and be easily bolted into a base, that would be perfect.