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Video: BD Carabiner Manufacturer Plant
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By 20 kN
From Hawaii
Oct 29, 2013

Interesting. This makes me wonder what the profit margin is from manufacturer to wholesale.


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By jnrose5
Oct 29, 2013
Ouray...

Super thorough video, except for one part.

"After a quick paint job..." (at about 4:08) should be expanded to fully explain the process. It should mention that the carabiners are put on trucks from Salt Lake City, and then put on a boat to China, and then put on another truck into the interior of China so that they can be anodized. This process uses chemicals and contaminants that are inordinately expensive to use in the U.S. in a way that does not wreck the environment and human health. Once the anodization happens, the carabiners get back on a truck, get back on a boat, and get back on another truck back to Salt Lake City where the video picks up again.

The fact that consumers want pretty colored carabiners (and cam lobes, and nuts, and others) contributes significantly to the price and the overall footprint of these products. I don't think non-anodized carabiners are even sold anymore. The fact that this video leaves out this less-than-rosy picture seems pretty problematic.


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By Locker
From Yucca Valley, CA
Oct 29, 2013
...

"Then after a quick paint job"

I agree that they should fully disclose that process as well.


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By Nik Sorenson
Oct 29, 2013

jnrose5 wrote:
The fact that consumers want pretty colored carabiners (and cam lobes, and nuts, and others) contributes significantly to the price and the overall footprint of these products. I don't think non-anodized carabiners are even sold anymore. The fact that this video leaves out this less-than-rosy picture seems pretty problematic.



I really appreciate that you are thinking about the energy/environmental cost of consumer products. However, it may not be that simple. Anodizing significantly increase the ability of the surface to resist abrasion and small impacts. Whether or not this would increase the life of the product enough to make up for the additional 'footprint' would be an interesting study.

This is just something to think about. I'm not saying you are wrong, I just like to play the Devil's advocate.


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By BigRed11
Oct 29, 2013

I would love to see a series of videos like this, each one dedicated to a different piece of gear we use.


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By mark felber
From Frisco, CO,USA
Oct 29, 2013

Clothing manufacturers, computer makers and others are starting to take heat for working conditions and environmental practices in the third world factories that make their products. Maybe Black Diamond can give us a picture of how the anodizing process is done, and what kind of conditions exist in the plant where it happens?

If a company in China can anodize all those biners and cams safely, without sickening or injuring their work force and without trashing the local environment, and if they can pay their workforce a living wage while they're doing it, then I'm happy to see them get the business. If having a rack full of pretty colors happens at the cost of another person's well being, maybe we'd all better re-examine our priorities.


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By Matt N
From Santa Barbara, CA
Oct 29, 2013
OTL

vadk wrote:
I would love to see a series of videos like this, each one dedicated to a different piece of gear we use.


www.mountainproject.com/v/dmm-factory-tour/107960491

www.mountainproject.com/v/how-cams-are-made-video/108040979


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By Matt N
From Santa Barbara, CA
Oct 29, 2013
OTL

Nik Sorenson wrote:
Anodizing significantly increase the ability of the surface to resist abrasion and small impacts.


Are you sure? I bootied a BD positron locker (anodized mocha or whatever color) and every bit of color was gone from UV exposure, except a tiny bit under the gate on the nose. If anodized color can be removed simply by sun exposure, I can't see how it would provide beneficial protection. Look at any belay biner - color is gone from a couple raps or lowers. I don't see a 'significant' increase in wear protection.

Just playing devil's fact checker.


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By rock_fencer
From Columbia, SC
Oct 29, 2013
Myself placing a a blue/yellow offset MC to protect between Bolt 2/3 just post crux . <br /> <br />Picture credit goes to eric Singleton, and many thanks to Josh Bagget for the great belay.

I highly doubt that anodizing in relation to climbing gear is worthwhile beyond cosmetics. Especially considering aluminums ability to form it's own protective oxide

Edit. Uv photo leaches pigment. Anodizing may still be there


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By Nik Sorenson
Oct 29, 2013

Matt N wrote:
Look at any belay biner - color is gone from a couple raps or lowers. I don't see a 'significant' increase in wear protection.


Matt,

I think you may be right on this point. It probably doesn't significantly increase the life of the biner because the abrasion is concentrated to one area. I would be interested in seeing some kind of testing on such things.


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By Scorl
Oct 29, 2013

@1:53 : "A pair of robotic pliers...". That's no robot!


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By 20 kN
From Hawaii
Oct 29, 2013

rock_fencer wrote:
I highly doubt that anodizing in relation to climbing gear is worthwhile beyond cosmetics. Especially considering aluminums ability to form it's own protective oxide Edit. Uv photo leaches pigment. Anodizing may still be there

The anodizing coating has a very worthwhile effect on the biner's ability to resist corrosion, especially marine corrosion. However, the coating can be scratched off very easily, and once it is gone the protection is gone as well.


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By jeeter
Oct 29, 2013

"It's ready to lock, load and carry you to the top"

Hell yes! Where do I buy these fantastic snap links? I want to be carried to the top.


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By John Wilder
From Las Vegas, NV
Oct 29, 2013

Scorl wrote:
@1:53 : "A pair of robotic pliers...". That's no robot!


no. the BD factory is actually largely human operated- i dont recall seeing much robotic stuff at all.

as for the anodizing, i'm not sure BD ships to china for that- there are plenty of places in the US that do it- it seems odd that they'd go overseas for it. but i could be wrong.


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By Sunny-D
From SLC, Utah
Oct 29, 2013
Top of Jah-Man Sister Superior

I think they do a lot or most of their anodizing here in SLC.


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By Tom-o Sapien
Oct 29, 2013
Conky and I confront Patrick Swayze

mark felber wrote:
Clothing manufacturers, computer makers and others are starting to take heat for working conditions and environmental practices in the third world factories that make their products. Maybe Black Diamond can give us a picture of how the anodizing process is done, and what kind of conditions exist in the plant where it happens? If a company in China can anodize all those biners and cams safely, without sickening or injuring their work force and without trashing the local environment, and if they can pay their workforce a living wage while they're doing it, then I'm happy to see them get the business. If having a rack full of pretty colors happens at the cost of another person's well being, maybe we'd all better re-examine our priorities.


I really wonder if anyone that lives in China actually buys anything that is made in China. Does the Chinese government forbid sales of domestic goods to the local populace? Dog treats manufactured there were the latest products recalled for killing pets across the country. Lead paint in children's toys, and several years ago there was a recall of sheetrock that was so toxic it corroded copper wiring and refrigeration lines in walls of homes that were newly constructed.

We only hear of these tragic events happening in 'Merica but nowhere else abroad. One could only reason one of two scenarios; (a) The rest of the world including China knows better than to buy anything made in China. Or (b) They've figured out the best way to rid their problems with toxic waste is to put it in products destined for the good ole U.S. of A.

Now, does anyone know where I put that tinfoil helmet?


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By John Wilder
From Las Vegas, NV
Oct 29, 2013

Sunny-D wrote:
I think they do a lot or most of their anodizing here in SLC.


it would seem logical that all stuff made in SLC would be anodized stateside. I would also expect all the cams and equipment made at the BD factory in China would be anodized in China (which would explain the slight variation in color across the C4 line in recent years).


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By jnrose5
Oct 30, 2013
Ouray...

I asked specifically about the anodization process at a BD factory tour this spring.

They make carabiners (and many other metal goods) in the SLC factory, with real live humans who have real health benefits and proper working conditions. The factory is increasingly powered by solar and wind. Employees are encouraged to take time for a quick ski or climb during the day. It's an awesome facility and work environment in SLC.

Just like the video said, the carabiners (and other metal goods that need stamping) are mostly completed in SLC and then shipped abroad only to get their anodized coatings. They're then brought back to SLC to put on the gates and springs and other finishing touches. The host of the tour flat out said that they send their goods to China because they can't meet the environmental regulations in the US. He also said that BD is responding to customer demand - we want carabiners in organized colors that match our organized colored cams, and the days of having a merely silver cam, carabiner, ATC, ascender, etc. are long gone.

BD isn't the problem. Uninformed and uncaring consumer demand is the problem


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By bearbreeder
Oct 30, 2013

how does rock exotica who makes biners for petzl get their stuff stamped "made in USA" then ...

how about DMM and their anodized biners that are marked "made in UK" ...

or other such biners made in first world countries ...

many companies do it just fine without going to china ...

hmmmmmm ....

;)


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By Jim Titt
From Germany
Oct 30, 2013

bearbreeder wrote:
how does rock exotica who makes biners for petzl get their stuff stamped "made in USA" then ... how about DMM and their anodized biners that are marked "made in UK" ... or other such biners made in first world countries ... many companies do it just fine without going to china ... hmmmmmm .... ;)


That BD canīt manage the environmental stuff is one thing, that other companies can is another. A millisecond with Google gave me the adresses of 5 anodising plants in SLC who are willing to make the investment to keep production in-house.


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By DrewF
Oct 30, 2013

bearbreeder wrote:
how does rock exotica who makes biners for petzl get their stuff stamped "made in USA" then ... how about DMM and their anodized biners that are marked "made in UK" ... or other such biners made in first world countries ... many companies do it just fine without going to china ... hmmmmmm .... ;)


Just because they stamp "Made in USA" doesn't mean its made here. I worked for a company who manufactured products in Mexico, then trucked them to the US to be "assembled", (by Mexican workers who crossed the boarder legally each day). Then products are stamped and sent out. Its easy to say you want to buy US manufactured goods, but takes some serious recon missions to make sure it is all being done here.


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By Ray Pinpillage
From West Egg
Oct 30, 2013
Cleo's Needle

Jim Titt wrote:
That BD canīt manage the environmental stuff is one thing, that other companies can is another. A millisecond with Google gave me the adresses of 5 anodising plants in SLC who are willing to make the investment to keep production in-house.

Jim,

Your unrepentant use of logic in this thread will not be tolerated. We hate Black diamond and must rage, RAGE, about this issue! Anodizing!!


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By Rohan de Launey
From South Lake Tahoe
Oct 30, 2013
Luther Spires

Would anybody else be happy with just the colored sling and non anodized lobes on cams.. Esp if it reduces the cost?! I sure would. I don't color coordinate my biners on cams anyway.. Most cams lose that color in a couple seasons worth of climbing anyway. How about c3's or the new x4's no color right? Still anodized? Perhaps they discovered price point went up disproportionally to manufacture cost if they do it??


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By Pete Spri
Oct 30, 2013

DrewF wrote:
Just because they stamp "Made in USA" doesn't mean its made here. I worked for a company who manufactured products in Mexico, then trucked them to the US to be "assembled", (by Mexican workers who crossed the boarder legally each day). Then products are stamped and sent out. Its easy to say you want to buy US manufactured goods, but takes some serious recon missions to make sure it is all being done here.


Not true. Made in the USA means just that. You will see alternate labels like "Assembled" or "Made in the USA of foreign components" but straight up "made in the USA" all by itself means just that.

I'd also throw out there that even non-anodized ovals and light D's are made in China now. I think all BD-SLC does is manufacture prototypes and first runs here since I can't find any biners they make that say anything even remotely close to "made in the USA" anymore. Sad.


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By PatCleary
From Rohnert Park, CA
Oct 30, 2013

Anodization and part coloring, while linked, aren't entirely the same. Anodization is a process of forming Aluminum Oxide on the surface of the component to protect it. The thickness of this layer controls how well protected it is. While forming this layer, dye added to the bath can be absorbed into the anodize layer. This is how it's possible to find a carabiner that's sunbleached, but likely still protected. Color lost during use (rope drag, slings rubbing etc) will remove both the anodize and the coloring.

Anodizing in Asia doesn't necessarily mean sweat shop conditions, nasty fumes rising off anodize baths, and people plucking parts out of acid with their teeth. I've visited a facility outside of Taipei that had their act together. Reasonably modern equipment, well controlled tanks, etc. Didn't notice any noxious chemicals, at least any more than you would stateside. I've also walked around some real dives here in the US (although never an anodizer). Maybe hard to accept, but some Asian shops are certainly better than some US shops.

There certainly are shops in the US that could do these components. No idea whether they go to Asia to dodge environmental regs, however, I suspect part of it is anodizing everything in one place. With a wide variety of product made in a wide variety of places, I suspect to anodize all their components in the same baths. This probably allows them to leave dye tanks setup and better control variability between batches. Also, with products like iPods being made in the millions, it's likely there are some pretty good shops over their quality wise.

As to "Made in America" there are several different criteria that you can base it on. Most value added, last country it's touched, etc. If the video above is shot in the US, their carabiners definitely qualify, using almost every metric.

Patrick


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By CallumRD1
From Lewison, ME
Oct 30, 2013

bearbreeder wrote:
... how about DMM and their anodized biners that are marked "made in UK" ...


DMM Makes all of their products in house. They have a bunch of videos on their web site showing the whole process. It's impressive. If they weren't so expensive, I would love to buy more DMM products.


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