A month ago I had the privilege to be a guest of Randall Bowman, Co-owner of Bowdriks Industries. Bowdricks Industries is the creator of Superclamps & Superglides (http://www.superclamp.net/).
This was a fun filled educational weekend that included everything from a 5 star gourmet dinner prepared by Randall himself (formally a Master Chef), a tour of the factory, & ended in a tour of the city of Calgary! Randall & his significant other, Elaine, where incredibly gracious host. Elaine loaned me her brand new 1000cc Can-Am Spyder to take for a spin out on the streets of Calgary!! It was insanely fun trying to keep up with Randall in Calgary's city traffic!
At times I think we take for granted whether it be a Superclamp, Superglide, or even a Snowmobile how many steps are involved in the design & production of a product.
Hear is some of the background of the Superclamp & Superglide.
To start, Superclamp, were initially constructed as a all metal clamps. Due to the economy of the steel industry at the time, prices and availability, hindered the production of this invention. This is when Randall & his brother Don took their development in a new direction with the use of CAD. CAD provided Bowdriks Industries with the advanced development tools to accomplish the production of the best tie-down clamp on the market. By switching to CAD technology, a great expense was incurred, along with many hours of trial & error to develop a superior refined prototype product that is now the originator of the current product we can purchase as a consumer today.
After the process of the clamp’s developed was finalized, a mold was made. If anyone knows anything about injection molds they are very expensive. A single mold can run as much as 50g or more. After so many uses they have to be sent in for touch up maintenance & this can cost around 10-15G. Not to mention the actual machine that holds the molds & does the actual injecting is thousands of dollars.
However, they had a vision, & they went after it. I am personally so glad they did. Especially after living in Alaska when it is freezing & blowing sideways when it is time to load your sled. They eliminated the process of chizzling ice & mud out of a tie down track on a trailer, or handling frozen ratchet straps. Because of their vision they bettered the industry! Thank you very much!
Here are a few points that I learned during my visit.
The actual high grade plastic they use is the same plastic that is used for the housing on a Glock gun!!
Superglides, become a superior product as a result of the injection mold method. This process enables the product to become three dimensional, rather than limiting it to a single profile style which is known as extrusion (spit out like spaghetti noodles). Extrusion limits the ability to add innovative design features. Through the use of an injection mold & CAD, Superglides actually can have many innovative features. One feature being, the little nubs on the bottom of the glide raise them off the decking as to not trap water which results in premature deck rot, along with hindering the ability to clean under them. Superglides have the actual directions imprinted on the glide itself. The molded tred pattern on the top surface of the glide is designed so that the carbides of the skis can actually fit in between the ridges so steering is not hindered. Bushings around the screw or rivets enhance the ‘underside nub’ feature to create ‘floating’ affect of the glide on the deck. This innovation also results in the preventing the glide from distortion due to changing conditions & they always look great!
The entire Superclamp, except for a few small metal components in the lever assembly are all produced through the injection mold method. The bar of the clamp is one mold alone. When it comes out of the mold it is then put through a process of smoothing all the edges & inspected by hand. Then it goes to a machine (that was developed by Don himself) that punches out the center of the clamp to install the actual lever and lock down assembly. All the little pieces required for that are another mold that they break apart by hand (like that of a model airplane) & then assemble each individuals clamp. Which is Elaine’s part in the process she said she is able to assemble approx 40 a day. This gives an appreciation to the number of steps involved.
Clamps being prepared for assembly: