When DMM first started making climbing equipment in the early 80s, we were at the forefront of new climbing technologies but carabiners were still made with cold forging techniques. A few years later, DMM took the manufacturing processes a step further and introduced hot forging.
In 1993, the Mamba quickdraw was one of the first products DMM launched using hot forging techniques.
Cold forging uses high pressures to change the shape of the bar; it does not allow for the possibility of losing metal and can only accommodate basic designs. Hot forging allows the weight of a carabiner to be reduced by moving metal around to stress points, where it is needed to maintain strength.
According to Chris Rowlands, export account manager at DMM, “hot forging is an efficient way to manufacture something highly complex. The intricate nature of the Mamba design could not be accommodated through cold forging alone. Hot forging with malleable metal bars opened up the possibilities for DMM to design products with more radical shapes which were both lighter and stronger. Since the production of the Mamba, all DMM’s snap gate and locking carabiners are hot forged.”
“As only one carabiner can be made at a time,” says Chris “many people think this is a time consuming process. However, in one forging hit a lot of operations are taking place; for example, the nose, hinge end and logo detailing. The die blocks also last for many years, with some of our carabiner forging dies lasting 10 or 15 years.”
Thanks to the introduction of hot forging techniques sport climbers had access to a sleek, supple and sexy quickdraw which didn’t just look good on their rack – it allowed them to climb better too.
“The Mamba was the first component we made using Computer Numeric Control [CNC],” says Fred Hall, technical director and chairman at DMM. “To make this happen we collaborated with Phil Dickinson, professor of manufacturing technology at Loughborough University, who had one of his engineers make a prototype and test it.”
Using CNC software, the Mamba was modelled in 3D on a computer and then produced on a milling machine.
“We do this all the time now,” says Fred “but when the Mamba quickdraws were being manufactured in the early 90s we were one of the first companies to be using this technology for making climbing equipment.”