What a fascinating day – I visit our manufacturing partner’s premises to see some of our parts being made

Last week I travelled to Malaysia to see the operations of one of our manufacturing partners – the guys who are making the custom housing for the Chi-Wah-Wah.  I’ve always been a bit of a geek and interested in ‘how stuff works’ but I was totally blown away by what I saw. Once the parts have been formed they are shipped back to Singapore for powder coating and assembly.

I must admit, I had some preconceptions as to how metal is folded by machines into complex shapes, but what I saw exceeded my expectations as far as sophistication goes. Here are some pictures I took of the expedition.

Click pics for larger sizes.

A couple of the treadles (the top part where you put your foot) being formed:

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Wider shot of the 250 ton press that bends the steel

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Positioning the tooth to undergo a secondary process that clamps the ‘tooth’ part (the bit that varies the light onto the Light Dependent Resistor inside)

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The machines does it’s thing – applying several hundred tons of pressure to the metal and wedging the tooth firmly in

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Some shots of the progressive tools follow – these are custom tools made specifically for our product and precision machined by a CNC Wire Cutter. They’re called progressive, since a coil of material (steel in this case) is passed through the machine and progresses from one ‘station’ to the next within the tool form. One station cuts out a basic shape, the next does a fold, the next does another bend, and so on and it does this with each ‘stamp’ of the machine.

This tool is for making the treadle. If you look carefully in the centre of the picture you can see the grayish galvanized steel in four distinct stages of shaping – with the rightmost one being the final step.

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This tool is for the upper housing:

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Here’s the ‘strip form’ showing the five stamping stages that show how the material progressed through the machine to make up the final upper housing from left being the basic cutout, to rightmost which shows the part after 4 subsequent stages.

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We have five separate tools for the five housing parts – upper housing, lower housing, treadle, treadle mount and tooth. These are interchangeable with the progressive stamping machine. Here’s the machine in action – at the time it was stamping some parts for one of the large computer manufacturers:

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The tools for the tooth (top) and below, the lower housing.

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Treadle mount with progressive strip

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Parts ready to be shipped back to Singapore for us:

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Bronze upper housings for the limited edition. Verrrry expensive per piece, but these look *amazing*.

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Assortment of progressive strip samples. Bronze at the right is the lower housing going through its stages

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Slightly fuzzy pic of the closeup of the bottom of the lower housing with embossed lettering.

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