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Manufacturing Time
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Word count/read time: 429 words; 2 minutes

"How long does it take to make that?"

It's a simple answer when all the parts are neatly spread out: jump rings, blanks, findings, etc. Manufacturing is relatively quick but it's little more than paint-by-numbers, a glorified assembler in other words. For me it begins long before that.

I'm not imagining scrolling through thousands of listings daily to find enough precious metals to keep the furnaces going. Further research is required on many items because the descriptions or photos aren't good enough.

The time toilet of dealing with fraud is significant. Roughly 20% of the items I buy are not as described - some just plain fakes - or come damaged. It may take hours to get it straightened out. Just send what I bought, nothing more or less.

Processing the silver for the furnace is at least a day. Melting and casting the 150ozt dore bars and monitoring the refiner as chemistry does its magic add another few days. When finished, the 0.999+ fine silver crystals are washed and dried. Along with cleaning and setup/teardown, the whole shebang is a mini-sabbatical.

 
Thus, a 20ozt ingot destined for micromaille entails turning the rolling mill handle 3000+ times.
 
Silver crystals are remelted into large ingots which are hammer-forged and annealed repeatedly until they fit into the rolling mill. The rolling mill makes square wire; round wire would then go through a drawplate up to 20 times. Wire takes more time than sheet, smaller sizes exponentially so.

Thus, a 20ozt ingot destined for micromaille entails turning the rolling mill handle 3000+ times. Going through the drawplate adds another 1500+ cranks on my proprietary wire drawing machine. It would make about 440ft of 0.75mm wire. One-click ordering it is not.

Wire for clasps, earwires, and select findings are done separately since they require special treatment. Otherwise it will be wrapped into coils and cut into jump rings. Then it's figuring out the best weave, ring sizes, and doing test runs. A few days can be eaten up before the project officially begins.

How about making tools? When the value of a machine/tool is primarily based on how much labor it took to make it then depreciation is mostly time (labor) instead of money (materials). These expenses are real though quantifying them can be complicated.

Manufacturing is but one chapter of a thick book. A Dragonscale bracelet "only" took about 40 hours once everything was in hand. However, every hour of actual assembly requires another 25%-50% backend time to support it.

Handmade has privileges, drawbacks, and rewards. No entity I have encountered goes through all these steps. The end product is superior jewelry with a pedigree to match.


Posted by M: February 20, 2022


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