Friday, March 19, 2010

Taiwan Factory Tour!

I loves me some factory tours. Born a gearhead, I spent my youth playing with toys like Erector sets, Matchbox/Hotwheels/model cars and planes and Legos. Lots of Legos. Basically I like to build things - or to watch humans and machines build things. So when a component rep invited me to tour a Taipei-area factory the other day, I jumped at the chance.

This particular factory is vertically integrated. That is, raw materials come in and finished products come out. The only process this factory does not handle is paintwork.

In goes this:
aluminum stock

(or cromoly or magnesium), out comes this:
and this:
Sadly due to the factory's restrictions, I can't really go into detail, with words or photos, on how it's all done. I can say that watching molten aluminum pour into molds is fascinating, that a hundreds of expensive, high-tech CNC machines humming away... pretty impressive.

Like bicycle assembly, lots of hands touch the product through all stages of construction. Automation plays a role with critical, repeatable processes such as bolt torquing, lube application and measuring and testing. This was also the best-lit, cleanest factory I've seen here in the Tropical-Industrial Paradise of Taiwan.

Now I'm just antsy to get home to ride my mountain bike.

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