Crafted items are nowhere near as profitable (not even in the same universe)as bars.
Hey, I just wanted to say that this is no general truth and only applicable under certain (game play) decisions. In general crafting items IS IN FACT significantly more profitable than smelting alloys. And this relation can stay true if you decide to invest in the sell value boosting advancements (and also, but separately, the different techs) at the same time. And even when you take the sell value artifacts into account the factor between smelting and crafting decreases, but not by much. ONLY if you solely focus on alloy sell value - which I agree is the currently best strategy - this relation gets turned up-side-down.
So, even if this strategy is widely accepted, I would be careful with statements that can easily be interpreted as generalizations, if they instead assume a very specific play style that some might not a) know how to pull off, b) be able to deploy (yet), or c) want to use. I guess when you reached Gargantuan you have earned some AP and have some basic advancements, but nonetheless I'm astonished that the only real "solutions" in this thread are "you haven't spent enough AP in Increased Alloy Value". Are you sure, that answers the stated question?
What I don't really understand here is, why your crafting strategy involves markets at all (or at least only works if there is a market for some alloy). So, apparently you focus on crafting recipes with a single alloy ingredient that is Silver or higher. That to me sounds like a legit plan. But, why can't you just smelt those? Regardless of whether you could buy them from markets or not. The reason why I ask this is that acquiring mines and upgrading them is generally a good investment. I admit, that's a similar assumption than what I just criticized others would use for their answers. But for me so far having enough Silver ore was never the problem when it came to smelting Silver bars. It's always the Copper I don't produce enough of before I actively switch to Glass production. And upgrading the Copper production is cheap. Given that for example one Silver smelter can usually sustain at least two Glass crafters, you don't need a Silver bar market to put (depending on the exact boosts you have) three crafters on Glass. Sure, having the market can mean that you can put a arbitrary number of crafters on one recipe at once. But if one recipe isn't sustainable on its own (because there is no market), you can still use as many crafters as possible for the more profitable recipe and put the remaining crafters on some recipe that you can buy the ingredients for. And even if you say that "Smelting alloy bars for profit makes no sense at all" because you heavily invested in Ore Sell Value, it might still be profitable to smelt as a way to obtain crafting ingredients. You would have to do the math, but having some loss when turning ores into bars might very well be more than evened out by turning those bars into items afterwards. And, as I said before, that smelting isn't profitable at all at the moment is a temporary situation. As soon as you invest in Alloy Sell Value, smelting will become profitable again.