Some of the Michigan Ice Fest staff recently went to Salt Lake City for the the Outdoor Retailer show, which is the largest outdoor sports show of its kind, and caters to the specialty outdoor retailer. It is where you will find all of the upcoming outdoor products and technical innovations that are to hit the market.
After a long day of working the show floor we were treated with a tour of the Black Diamond factory which just happens to be based in Salt Lake City. BD’s 85,000-square-foot manufacturing center and office complex is where the company manufactures a majority of its climbing and skiing products. Our friend and sales rep Jon Jugenheimer was our personal tour guide and with safety glasses in hand we explored the nooks and cranny’s of this organized chaos. Equipment in various stages of completion was strewn everywhere, including ice axes, screws, biners, and crampons, all waiting for completion and shipping out to retailers around the world. It was really interesting to see the stock metal, laser cutting machines, to see the hot and cold forging processes, learning the steps involved in how the gear is manufactured, and most importantly- meet the workers who are making and assembling the gear we climb on!
BD uses two different forging methods to build carabiners—hot and cold forging. Each has its benefits and using both allows us to achieve the best possible shape, size and strength for each carabiner’s intended use. Hot forging, a process where both the rod stock and forge dies are heated, allows us to “move” the metal, creating more intricate shapes, such as the GridLock and Oz biner.
Cold forging is done when the metal, usually aluminum, which is soft and easy to work with, is cold. Cold forging is typically less expensive than hot forging, produces a precision product that requires little finish work, and is often used for symmetrical items such as Oval Wire and Light D carabiners.
Our favorite part of the tour was checking out the process in making all of those beautiful express ice screws! We all know that these are some of the nicest placing screws on the planet thanks to the highly polished, smooth interior surfaces and finely tuned thread geometry. Here is a visual tour of the process in which they are made!
We were continually impressed by the relentless attention to detail, the rigorous testing procedures and the distinctive sounds and efficiency of production machinery in action. The BD brand is the real deal- kudos for manufacturing innovative climbing gear right here in the USA! Be sure to check out the expanded Black Diamond equipment booth coming to the 2016 Michigan Ice Fest!