March 1, 2014
I rented a motorbike and spent a few days darting around the industrial suburbs of Ho Chi Min City in search of machine shops. This was a great excuse to explore parts of the city that I wouldn’t otherwise get to see, and it turned out to be quite productive as well. We’re expecting a bunch of price quotes over the next few weeks.
Here’s a quick video captured by my iphone in a running armband.
We’re trying to find out how much it would cost to make the mounting plates and brackets overseas. We received quotes from several machine shops in the U.S. and they were very high. Using the lowest-cost US quote we’ve received so far, the mounting plates would cost approximately 1.5 times more than the actual bags themselves.
I really had no idea what to expect when I set out on this search. There was lots of sitting around tables, staring at the parts.
There are many professional machine shops and molding factories in Vietnam. I also saw a few that were backwards and old, but most had modern machinery making complex parts for the US and European markets. Some shops had been around for a while, with several generations of machinery in operation, from aging hand-controlled stand-up to ultra-modern brand-new CNC, and everything in between.
Coffee break. At the street stalls, iced coffee is often served with an accompanying cup of tea.
Laser-engraving: “LL Bean.”
Saw one of the D rings we’re using in production.
Here’s the finished part.
A compilation of some video snapshots from inside the factories.
One day I had a guide, Sebastien, who owns a recycling business in HCMC. He knows a lot of machine shops and factories because be buys and recycles their scrap. In my day with Sebastien we rode 150+ kilometers through Saigon traffic, him on his scooter and me on my minsk.
After a few days exploring machine shops, I regrouped with Anton at the bag factory and we reviewed the first-round proto of our reduced-size duffle, which is coming along nicely. We were shooting for 30L but the proto came back way too big. They’re working on a revised version for next week.
To experiment with the desired dimensions, we reduced the volume of our proto by clipping it with plastic clips. We’re also experimenting with the quick-disconnect backpack/shoulder strap system in the pics below.
We’re messing with some ideas for making our own version of molle stix out of PE board. More to come on that.
Anton and I had a fun night out. The pic below is from an Irish Pub in HCMC called Bernie’s. Kiki (in the pic) and her husband are the owners. Good whiskey is nice to find.
Now I’m in Hanoi, in northern Vietnam where it’s cold and rainy, searching for an apparel factory. More on that next week.