Million Dollar Water Block: How Water Cooling is Made | Factory Tour in Taiwan

by birtanpublished on October 1, 2020

out of all the factory tours we've done
until today we'd never gotten an
opportunity to see how water blocks and
open-loop cooling components like
fittings are made we've seen skiving for
closed-loop liquid coolers before as
used for cold plates in a iOS and the
rest of the clothes new construction at
coolermaster and deep pool factories but
not open-loop components open-loop has a
lot more steps involved as most of the
closed-loop parts are sourced from third
parties and assembled rather than made
on-site bits power gave us a factory
tour of its facility in changhua Taiwan
to see how open-loop parts are made
today we'll see CNC machines at work
making water blocks fittings acrylic
housing polyoxymethylene thermoplastic
parts and more in a separate R&D tour
video in the future we'll also show how
water blocks are designed and checked
for quality and sizing before that this
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Squarespace we've been to cooler and
case manufacturing facilities before
that use some of the same machines use
that bits power but we haven't had a
chance to learn the in-depth details of
how our water block and fittings are
made for open loop arts if you want to
catch up on our other twenty factory
tour videos check the playlist linked in
the description below remember that the
process explained in this video is in
some ways specific to bits power but
it's mostly the same as how all water
cooling parts are made broken loop so it
applies to other brands as well just
with different sizes for the factory's
MIT's Power has grown a lot over the
last few years and now it does its
biggest business in the US and in China
some of the company's biggest customers
include cyber power whose CES demo
systems we saw this year used his power
parts and micro Center which moves a lot
of DIY parts bits powers Factory is
located in a relatively small town in
Taiwan with
about 230,000 but in neighbors ty Joan
with 2.8 million people the factory is
the first that we've been to out of the
Taipei area and it's successful by
high-speed rail about an hour out it's a
huge change of scenery from the more
industrial areas of taipei and tao yen
but it's still a factory and you'll see
that everything's functioned first at
this location its power manufacturers
the vast majority of its parts in Taiwan
with the remainder being made in China
like anyone else Pitt's power hires
other factories to do specialized work
most also in Taiwan like electroplating
for nickel finishes which is done nearby
we have another factory tour of an
electroplating facility coming up soon
but we can show some teaser footage here
Fitz Power also buys from suppliers for
its tubing like it's coated copper
tubing but makes the rest of its parts
and a factory that it owns the first
step of the factory is to receive
aluminum and copper raw materials from a
supplier its power and its supplier have
a synergistic relationship involving
materials recycling that we'll talk
about more later the raw materials are
dropped off in the form of rods and
stored near the factory entrance rods
are commonly circular or square at this
factory and when we asked what the
significance was between the two sizes
the factory told us that these square
rods are faster to cut for certain types
of component design the circular rods
also have nurlan pre-cut into the
surface which will later be used for
grip on fitting pieces that might need
to be screwed in by hand
its power runs three shifts to complete
ten thousand fittings per day on average
making it's a modest factory one of the
most efficient that we've been to the
company only needs about eight to ten
engineers and trained technicians to run
its machines as the work is primarily
automated and requires skilled workers
to program the machines and keep them
running the rods are taken off of the
trace at the entrance and brought to the
first machines
aside from programming and maintenance
this is one of the few manual steps in
the process just physically moving the
material workers load the aluminum or
copper rods into the machine a couple at
a time typically three to five stacks
and the machine can then operate mostly
unsupervised for the next one to two
days as the bars have depleted a blue
LED bar progresses down the machine and
then a new bar is automatically dropped
into the chamber each bar is worth about
400 fittings and each machine can go
through about eight bars per day if it's
running at
full operation although they don't
typically the bars pushed down the
chamber as it's cut on the other end
where it enters the machine for more
work the machine normally dumps oil on
the tools to keep them all cool and it
contains a tank of two gallons requiring
a refill once per week due to gradual
loss from spatter of the oil the
engineer here disabled the oil
momentarily and stuck a high-powered
compressed air gun into the machine to
cool it well enough for us to film
without all the oil in the way which we
obviously appreciate but normally you'd
see these things completely coated in
oil the tools are stationary bits fixed
in a specific location with each
location programs for specific fittings
right-angled fittings take the longest
time to make and require more expensive
machining which can process a fitting
from two sides while the simpler soft
tubing fittings can use a cheaper
machine that only processes the fitting
from one side this larger CNC has a
total of nine tool slots with six to
eight required on average for each
fitting depending on the product the bar
is cut into a smaller chunk at this
point and then moved internally from
tool to tool and spun against the bit
once one side is done it's handed off to
another piece within the machine and run
against the tools in the opposing
direction used for machining both sides
of a fitting once all the machining work
is done the fitting is spat into a short
conveyor belt and dropped into a bin to
a weight technician inspection each
piece is placed in a drain for the oil
to drip off and then is inspected for
quality control out of every million
pieces or so the defect rate is about
0.3 percent at this stage in the
pipeline making this one of the most
accurate processes we've seen yet as for
when there are defects they're typically
caused by the bits slowly going back
which is a natural byproduct of a
whirling bar of hot metal getting
pressed into drill bits constantly
during manufacturing technicians check
the bits every 20 minutes or so mostly
to ensure that something isn't horribly
wrong with the programming or that the
tools haven't been destroyed over time
the most common failure is from tool
aging which is only countered with
diligence and early replacements of
failing bits especially since they don't
age at the same pace quality checks
include inner diameter checks with
digital or analog meters and thread
checks to ensure the fitting secures
flush to the test plate once
and suspects that the tool might be
going bad they'll begin checking for the
fittings every ten minutes until it's no
longer tenable for manufacturing as for
the manufacturing variants variation
unit to unit in any single dimension is
less than 0.01 millimeters but this is
also checked in another process with
separate tools later that we'll talk
about in our R&D tour all of the copper
and aluminum scraps from the fittings
are dumped by the machine into a large
bin and later bagged bits power takes
the bag full of copper shavings and
places it in a whirling dryer that rests
atop a massive truck tire although it
looks homemade this is actually a pretty
standard machine that we've seen a few
times now and it's used for drying small
parts in manufacturing the tire makes
for a great natural shock absorber that
copes well with the high speed of the
dryer and the metal supplier has again a
synergistic relationship with pits power
where in bits power can return the
excess material as recyclables to the
supplier in exchange for a rebate on its
next order this dryer is important
though it's used to forcefully remove
the oil from the components because the
metal supplier values the material at a
lower rate if it's soaked in oil because
the rates are based on weight and oil
obviously adds value less weight almost
all of the unused material can be
recycled via a foundry that melts it
down and processes new copper bars
completing the circle on the next
delivery as for the value the current
rate with these factories at least is
about $4 USD per kilogram of copper
waste four bits power the company
produces somewhere around 400 to 500
kilograms of waste per day and each of
the massive bags ways we think about a
thousand kilograms
although the translation here was
uncertain unfortunately wastes from
acrylic and pom manufacturing is
unusable and so it's sent off to a waste
management company for processing into a
landfill that concludes the making of
the fittings but bits power also makes
acrylic thermoplastic and other copper
products in this same facility so we can
move on to those next manufacturing time
is always the biggest cost that's hit
into consumers factories price products
based on raw materials and bomb
obviously but also price them based on
how long each product takes to make as
an example it takes bits power about two
to three hours to make just the copper
base for its liquid nitrogen
which is a complicated cut that uses
dense copper requiring a lot of times
machining it down and also the
complicated patterns make it take longer
that's two to three hours for a single
unit and bits power has eight of the
larger CNC machines so that type a
significant portion of its production
capabilities for any type of block for
the entire period that this Allen to
pots being made for perspective it takes
the company about eleven minutes to
machine just one acrylic piece for its
water blocks which is still a long time
and it takes about twenty five minutes
for a copper coal plate to be machined
from start to finish for a CPU in the
time that bits power makes one ln2 pot
base it can make five to seven CPU
cooler cold plates multiply it against
the accommodation of one machine for
three cold plates each bringing the
total for one machine in two to three
hours to fifteen to twenty one units
versus the one allen to pot that's why
things cost what they do aside from the
given material pricing bits power tells
us that the biggest cost unsurprisingly
is factory floor space unless the
company buys more land and builds
another factory it can't simply add more
machines to increase its production
capabilities the copper for cold plates
is provided in a solid brick pre-cut by
the supplier we asked why they don't cut
the copper from larger sheets instead
and bits power told us that although it
be cheaper in one sense it caused
tremendously more in that factory floor
space requirement and it has to get rid
of other machines to accommodate the
idea so it makes more sense to buy it
from a supplier before proceeding the
copper brick has its sharp edges cleaned
off with a hand tool if necessary the
copper brick is next socketed into a
metal carrier and secure it in place
it's then mounted in the machine doing
it this way ensures that the coordinates
always match the programming the CNC
works in steps so the first is to cut
the excess copper out and create the
shape of the cold plate followed by
three more steps for shaping the cold
plate channels the micro fins and for
polishing the machine can fit three cold
plates at a time for cpus anyway or four
terminals at a time bits power tries to
min max how many units it makes from
each step so that machines only need to
be programmed once per step per order
but it depends on how quickly the parts
have to be made terminals are more
complicated than might be thought this
power technicians have to manually flip
the terminals four times so that they
can reach each angle so they have to be
rotated throughout the process and take
more hands-on oversight than some other
components would as for acrylic and palm
that's fairly hands-off depending on the
part its power makes acrylic and palm
covers for its water blocks acrylic
distribution plates for NZXT and
CyberPower cases GPU block covers and
also makes some of its reservoirs in the
CNC machines one of the super fat walled
reservoirs that we saw is also made in
this facility they bring in the raw
material and then place it in the
largest of the CNC machines that's
available in the factory
if you're under than what it costs to
make open-loop parts ignoring the land
cost the time the R&D costs and
everything else associated with running
a business it's still high each of the
larger CNC chambers which are needed for
big parts like reservoirs cost three
million NTD each or about ninety nine
thousand five hundred forty USD the
smaller of the two chambers costs two
and a half million NTD or about eighty
two thousand nine hundred fifty USD
there's also millions of USD tied up in
land time employee R&D and material
costs as well so it's expensive to make
water block after all this the parts are
packaged and driven a few miles down the
road to bits power HQ where they're
packaged again for retail and prepared
for shipment with manual labor during
this process bits power does more
quality control steps mostly visual
inspection for scratches and then
packages the parts with accessories for
shipment we'll have a separate video on
bits powers process for researching and
developing new water cooling products so
subscribe for that remember that it's
similar across the industry so knowing
how bits power does it will give you a
better understanding for how basically
everyone making water cooling parts
approaches their product manufacturing
and design subscribe for more as always
we have a lot more factory tours coming
up you can go to store documents access
net or slash gamers Nexus
helps out directly and we'll see you all
next time

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