Outdoor activities and sports are more popular than ever, especially following the initial pandemic-related shutdowns of gyms and organized sports activities. During quarantine, millions of people realized the benefits of outdoor activities on their mental and physical health. The increased participation in outdoor and adventure sports has created a demand for high-quality, US manufactured gear and equipment.
The Outdoor Foundation 2022 Outdoor Participation Trends Report states that outdoor participation continues to increase at record levels, growing by 2.2% in 2021 to 164.2M participants.
Also, the demographic with the capital to spend on high-end specialty equipment has grown. The report found that participants 55 years and older increased by 14% since 2019, and the fastest growing category was participants 65 and over at 16.9% growth since the COVID pandemic began.
The Foundation listed the 10 top-most popular activities, all showing growth in 2020 and 2021.
Increased Demand Increases Pressure for Outdoor Gear Manufacturers
A boom in the industry means opportunities and additional revenue, but it doesn’t mean smooth sailing and prime conditions. Outdoor gear manufacturers had to absorb this high demand at the same time as resources became scarce, competitive and expensive due to pandemic-related challenges across the globe.
According to an article in Outside Online in December 2021, “Manufacturers can’t keep up with the demand for their products. Whether it’s a shortage of raw materials, or backlogs at ports, brands are facing challenges at every stage of building and distributing their products.”
However, as The Columbian put it in May 2022, “Issues related to the COVID pandemic were hardly the only causes. Tariff increases on goods shipped from China played a big role, too.” The article also cited supply chain pressures from the cost of fuel and labor negotiations at ports.
Then there are the small activities across the supply chain that have larger ripple effects. Backpacking Routes wrote, “Inspections of finished gear slowed when sending inspectors into plants during the pandemic was not safe [and] finished products were shipped to inspectors…adding one more production layer.”
Add to this the fact that manufacturing is experiencing a daunting labor shortage that doesn’t have the sunniest outlook.
Then, on the other side of this deficit coin is the expectation that production will be faster, higher-quality and more precise than ever before.
It’s certainly a crunch.
A January 2023 article for Fortune proposes: “Training workers for new advanced manufacturing is [a] key factor in strengthening a sector that has become increasingly reliant on technology.”
As part of this, strategically implementing automated and otherwise advanced technology on your factory floor can help you meet demand for speed, quantity and quality.
What Does the Increased Demand Require of Outdoor Equipment Manufacturers?
Increased demand for outdoor gear means it’s time to up your game to obtain the superior results that consumers will continue to expect even as the pressure to produce more, faster goes up. Deburring and finishing are a key part of this strategy. With Xebec’s deburring solutions, you can promise high quality parts while also cutting your own costs, improving your production processes and maximizing the potential of your existing workforce.
Since manufacturers of outdoor gear and equipment are experiencing considerable growth, anticipated to rise at compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.8% between 2023 and 2028, manufacturers of outdoor gear, especially high-end specialty equipment, need technology that can provide greater efficiencies with superior results.
Whether you’re automating to counter the shortage of skilled labor or need advanced hand tools to finish your handcrafted parts to desired specifications, Xebec has the solution. You can reach (or get close to) a fully done-in-one process by automating deburring and finishing with Xebec deburring brushes for CNC or robotic machines, improving efficiency and your bottom line.
How Xebec Helps Outdoor Gear Manufacturers Increase Productivity and Quality
The team at Xebec has experience with innovative manufacturers and their precision machining and fabrication service partners in producing the highest quality craftsmanship of adventure equipment. Some examples of the equipment we’ve worked on:
Fishing Reels – a designer and manufacturer of handcrafted fishing reels uses Xebec ceramic stone brushes to create a superior finish on their fly tackle equipment.
Archery Bows – a manufacturer of high-precision, tight-tolerance parts, was able to significantly cut the time to deburr and finish aluminum barebow recurve risers for CD Archery. Area Tool’s production volume in these bows was enough to pull significant time away from other work, so they turned to Xebec to automate the polishing process. Learn more in the Area Tool case study.
Rifle and Spotting Scopes – a custom manufacturer of long range rifle and spotting scopes, binoculars and other outdoor optical equipment believes that guaranteeing performance takes serious dedication and craftsmanship. That’s why they use Xebec brushes in the manufacture of their mounts, rings and bases necessary for optimal performance.
Sound Suppressors – a manufacturer of a high-quality line of silencers, muzzle brakes and accessories uses Xebec’s Back Burr Cutter and other tools to deburr their complex parts to exacting specifications.
Hunting Rifles – a manufacturer of highly accurate and lightweight firearms using carbon fiber and other advanced aerospace materials uses Xebec deburring solutions to achieve the precision needed in their long shot hunting rifles.
Motorsports – a precision CNC parts manufacturer for the motorsports, aerospace, defense, space and medical industries works with the team at Xebec to produce the highest quality power transmission parts for their motorsports products.
High Performance Motorcycles – a nationally known provider of machine tool solutions delivers the needed parts for high-performance machines, such as specialty motorcycles. They team up with Xebec to provide Harley with the quality, innovation and craftsmanship they require for their brand.
ATVs and UTVs – a manufacturer of drive train products for All-terrain vehicles (ATV) and utility vehicles (UTV) has partnered with Xebec to make the highest quality components to solve some of the most common problems related to traction and on-demand 4WD engagement.
Common Outdoor Gear Materials that Need Deburring and Finishing
Certain materials are common in outdoor gear manufacturing, and it helps to understand which tools perform optimally with those materials. Further, you may find yourself working with new and different materials as brands look to alternatives against supply chain shortages.
Carbon Fiber and Composites
Carbon Fiber is a polymer composite that is lightweight and high strength. It can be challenging to machine, especially with more generic deburring brushes. In an article for Cutting Tool Engineering magazine, Dr. LaRoux K. Gillespie puts composites like carbon fiber at the top of the difficulty list for deburring and finishing.
“Deburring composite materials is particularly challenging,” he writes. “But there is another, more subjective issue: What determines an edge when machining different layers of material? To help minimize burrs and finish edges when deburring composites, understand the material properties in each composite and what the real customer quality criteria are – at each interface.”
Stainless steel is a hard, strong, corrosion-resistant material. Depending on the makeup of the stainless steel you’re working with, it will machine differently.
Aluminum and Aluminum Alloys
Aluminum and aluminum alloys are commonly favored for light-weight outdoor gear applications. They are known for being durable and resistant to corrosion. These materials are some of the easiest to machine.
Titanium is a material of choice for high-performance applications in premium consumer products. It is a more expensive option, and it has incredible corrosion resistance and strength. It can be difficult and complex to machine. Xebec deburring tools have a great track record machining such material.
PEEK and other Plastics
Residual burrs and flash can be generated in the molding or machining process. Xebec tools are able to deburr and finish the part without introducing the excess heat produced by similar tools.
If you’re a manufacturer tasked with precision machining finely honed gear and equipment for outdoor adventurers, let Xebec put you ahead of the game. Our experts can quickly help you determine the right tool for your application and help you through a successful test. And since we’re based in Central Ohio and most of our tools are in stock, we can get a solution to you quickly.