They saved the best factory for last, that is for sure!
Spoiler alert, I am home, slept and am sitting on the couch watching Sports Center. Life is good!
Our last morning started later than usual as we did not need to leave until 9:00. The fancy hotel lived up to the hype. It was comfortable and the AC actually got the room cold enough to make me happy.
The first stop we made was a new (to us) injection mold vendor. It was alright. My initial impression of them was negative because we walked into the building and it was overwhelmingly smelling of cigarettes! At some point in all of the talking (none in English of course), I had time to think – I like factories much more than these vendor trips. The prior evening, we visited a graphics vendor and it was much of the same. Not my idea of fun.
After that one, we trekked 2 hours to the very southern end of Taiwan to visit the factory where our bat factory gets our extruded aluminum to make bats. Like I said in the opening, they saved the best for last! This factory is owned by the same people who own our bat factories so we got a pretty VIP tour. About a year and a half ago, this extrusion factory was 1 building large. In essentially 10 months, they bought more land and built 2 more buildings bringing the total to 3. Now, yes Easton makes a boatload of bats, but the increase in capacity was not for us. They make the aluminum on the iphone 6 and apple watch! You are welcome, Apple! It was cool to see the insanity that Apple requires of them in terms of QC. There are some processes that they require 100% inspection. But, that was not the cool part of the factory. We got to see how aluminum is made. Basically it is this molten concoction that they “poor” into long rods that are 8″-12″ in diameter. Each long rod is cut down to about 18″ long. These billets, while looking manageable, cannot be picked up by people as they are still really heavy. Each billet is then essentially smushed against a die and extruded into like 25′ length parts. For bats, they are just cylinders. For phones, they are flat plates with some features. But it was wild. This giant billet goes through something that is about 4″ x 1/2″. The amount of force behind the ram is giant. I forget if they told us if it was 2,500 tons or 25,000 tons, but either way, woah! If you are interested in learning more about aluminum extrusion, definitely hit up google. No pics were permitted so I have nothing to share there. The only negative about this place was the heat! Imagine a giant factory where there is molten aluminum and the heat generated buy the hydrollic presses to extrude the aluminum. It gave a whole new meaning to sweating your ass off!
After that we boarded the high speed train and two hours later, we were at the Taipei airport, ready to come home. Next stop America! For those keeping track at home, we began the day in Taiching, went to Tainan and then headed up Taipei to fly out. Talk about the tour of Taiwan, right? Have a look at a map of Taiwan to see what we did.
I accidentally slept most of the flight, but I blame it on Ian for not waking me up. I intended to just sleep through dinner then wake up and stay awake for the rest of it. Instead, I slept the first 8 hours, woke up for 2.5 and then slept again for the last bit. I was tired I guess. When we got to LA, LAX did not disappoint. There was no gate so they shuttled us for 20 minutes to the terminal. Good job! Clearing customs was a breeze and we headed out and home.
Tuesday was 27 hours long (we landed in LA 3 hours before we left Taiwan) and without the extra time, there is no way we would have gotten all that done.
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed the China adventure. It seems like so long ago the trip began. It was an interesting experience seeing how the factory works and everything but I am glad to live in America.