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Possibility of starting a new firework manufacturing business


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Poll: The possibility of starting a new firework manufacturing business in Britain. (33 member(s) have cast votes)

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#61 Vic

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Posted 09 July 2010 - 09:24 PM

I have always liked the idea of workers co-operatives as long as you have like minded people, willing to work with total dedication for little reward until the company could turn a profit.

One of the key factors will be branding and marketing and obviously how much cash you can throw at it in the first place

If you could bring back some of the old favourites in selection boxes and work on the nostalgia theme then you could be in with a shout,
but the production quantities would have to be huge to make inroads into the market.
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#62 portfire

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Posted 09 July 2010 - 09:26 PM

Mmm. I have to side with Digger on this. IMO no matter how much you can mechanise a operation, cakes will always be a "hands one" item. I agree you can lighten the work load in places, but to do a big run, you need many people doing many things...

Also, I don't like the fact the this so called "government" is exploiting low wages in other countries!!! I agree with pyrotechnist on this...Bring back UK industrie

Loving this thread BTW
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#63 pyrotechnist

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Posted 09 July 2010 - 10:41 PM

Thanks portfire, I agree about low waged workers though companies can get away with it and what also sickens me is the fact large companies can pay less tax than a small company by using transfer funding to get away with it. That is always the idea on bringing back the oldies plus more! and with the effects we now have and new formula we can achieve so much more and so much better. Ill keep looking into cakes, I believe the Chinese do have nice quick methods, dam I see one worker churning out hundreds a day. I guess if you produced cakes you would need to produce large luxury cakes and a selected range and not these snap crackle and pop and who whistle and pop mini cakes and other crap flooding our market.
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#64 digger

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 12:11 AM

I believe the Chinese do have nice quick methods, dam I see one worker churning out hundreds a day.


I will reply to your earlier post later this weekend after a party or two.

However I don't think even a super industrious Chinese worker can churn out hundreds of cakes a day (given a 12 hour day that is a complete cake every 3 minutes 20 seconds for 200 units, or 10,000 tubes(1 hour total breaks over 12 hours)). Maybe a large team of Chinese workers can. This equates to plugging, fusing, making the stars, building an insert and loading a tube every 4 seconds. I will go through your list as I say later. But I would guess the total labour per 50 shot cake in absolute optimal conditions would be approaching 2 hours per unit whilst maintaining some level of quality.

Lets say you have a very well paid Chinese worker at $200 per month that works out at about $0.64 per cake or about 44p. Lets say the UK minimum wage is about £5.80 add legal minimum holiday entitlement of about 20 days plus 8 days stat's that takes it to Effectively £6.43. Add employers National insurance at 12% that becomes £7.20. This is not including any employer liability insurance costs. So the same labour cost would be £14.40 vs 44p for a Chinese worker!!!!!

Edited by digger, 10 July 2010 - 07:17 AM.

Phew that was close.

#65 pyrotechnist

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 12:05 PM

What about the second option of importing pre-fused and made empty cakes ready for shells?
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#66 Arthur Brown

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 02:22 PM

Even the Chinese, class firework manufacture as very intensive use of skilled labour, so labour costs are the killer for UK manufacture of 1.4 items. Look at the Le Maitre price list for the real cost of UK made fireworks, no-one would buy them retail because of the price. Eg

12 x 12 STAGE GERB 17mm Tube 10 £56

That's a 12 second 12 foot high fountain for £5.60 plus VAT 2007 price list. Who in reality is going to pay that much for a small quick fountain just because it's made in England.

As a stage effect these are perfect, they will all start on time, be the same height and shape and finish close to each other.


Try this for one example of a "fountain" at Made In China prices

Absolute Fireworks Flying Pheonix

9 different fountains in one box and lasting well over 75 seconds, £7.99

This, by the time you inflate the LeMaitre 2007 price to 2010 and add VAT, means that the price is similar but that you get a complete pattern of fountains in the Chinese cake for a similar price to one small fountain lasting 1/6th the time

There really is NO COMPARISON
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Keep mannequins and watermelons away from fireworks..they always get hurt..

#67 pyrotechnist

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 04:15 PM

The comparison is the Chinese fountains are small, inferior and generally over packed tiny devices even if they last for a minute they generally dont go heigh and are not that diverse on effects. I see what you are getting at but you get what you pay for. Some of them high costs may be due to Le Maitre small production sizes as well, to what I can see it is a very small factory.
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#68 exat808

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 05:03 PM

Just want to add some more points for consideration -
Having assembled your product that is destined for the market have you factored into the final price the sourcing of approved packaging in which your product must be submitted to HSE for classification?
The classification process costs £68 per article submitted plus £68 per hour spent by the HSE on determining if the application is approved. You may be able to rely upon generic classifications from existing products but if you are introducing an article that performs in any way differently from an existing product then the reliance on the generic approach may not be available.
There are more considerations beyond this point as well that will ultimately see your product on the display stand in the shop.

#69 Mumbles

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 07:14 PM

I am not sure of all regulations, so you may have to bear with me a little bit.

Here goes:

Tube plugging and fuse punching:

Machine to do this process with flexibility for multiple size ranges. The tubes are then packed into boxes ready for use or storage.


You might want to lose the idea of getting a machine to do this. It wont happen initially, or likely be commercially viable in the long run. The chinese use a hammer and dowel. You'll probably be able to go a little more high tech with something you described in the cake section. A hopper or metered delivery plate and a large press would be fine probably. For the holes, you'll be using a drill press or an arbor press with a sharp pin. Anything more than one at a time might be hard to get setup initially without a good initial investment. As I've said before, you'll have to dial in your proceedures and methods first. After that you can adapt equipment for faster production.

Stars:

  • Worker goes to chemical store and selects the correct amounts of chemicals needed for the composition he/she is working with and signs the chemicals out.
  • The chemicals are then mixed on a bench within the star manufacturing facility and seived to make sure a readily mixed mix is produced.
  • The mix is then seperated half and half into two buckets and one is wetted down with either water/alcohol mix or acetone within a confined ventalated room.
  • The mix is then dumped into a star roller and the stars are manufactured to the correct size by their thousonds.
  • Once done the stars are sent to the drying building and left to dry.
  • Once dry the stars are placed into a paper lined card container or wooden storage box and labelled accordingly and then taken to the material stores until used.


You are going to want a dedicated chemical mixer probably. Lose the signing out of chemicals. Something more appropriate may be an initial or sign off upon confirming the weight of each chemical added to the bucket, and then for the final weight before and after screening. You're also going to want to carefully consider economics if you're going to be using alcohol or acetone except where their use is mandated. It is going to be an additional cost for what may not speed up rolling or drying.

I don't know what kind of storage requirements there are, but you may want to think about something airtight to seal against the environment.

Fuse preparation:

  • A machine is loaded with a reel of visco which is then unwound and cut to the desired length, this visco can then be used for insert timing, cake section timing, fuses going from tube to tube or other processes. The fuses are dumped into a plastic bucket via the machine.
  • The fuses are then packed into small boxes and sealed for use.
  • The fuse is then sent to the material stores.

Inserts:

  • The insert tubes are laid out on to a press plate and the fuses are inserted into the plates fuse wholes for the timed delay of the inserts.
  • Clay is then added in a specific amount per tube and the delay is then press, 30 inserts at a time.
  • The inserts are then left on the pressing plate ready for loading.
  • The stars and burst powder are correctly measured out and mixed together in a none-static bucket.
  • A loading hopper is then applied over the insert tubes and the contents are loaded into the hopper which is then gently shaked to make sure each tube is loaded to the correct level with effects and burst.
  • The hopper is removed and a card plug is pushed into each tube and a squert of quick drying filla is applied to seal the insert.
  • The inserts are then removed from the pressing plate and placed upon a mesh screen within a brass cage ready to go to the drying building.


It sounds like you're intending to use visco as a delay agent. While that might work in China, it seems like it will be less viable in the UK. I would look more into a pressed delay. Some of the best inserts and shells on the market are all pressed. You may also want to think about losing the cardboard disk and glue, and pressing another increment of clay on top.

Empty Cake Manufacture, Building with seperation wall from each process carried out:

  • Lay glue out on plastic or wood plate and place pre-plugged tubes with fuse wholes facing upwards into the glue, say 10 tubes at once.
  • Get the cake design template and add the cake sectional seperator which will fit snugly inside of the template which will be made out of wood. Then apply the tubes glue side down on the card seperator in a fan, horizontal, verticle or any other shape you are working with.
  • Repeat the above process until you reach the top of the wooden template and remove template and repeat for the needed amount of cake sections.
  • Leave cake sections to dry and once dry move them to building section B where each section will be fused and taped.
  • Once a section is fused and taped it is placed in a cake template corrisponding to the cakes design and the other sections are fused and taped and glued card seperator side down to the tubes on the row below it.
  • Once done the cake is then glued to a card base and the fuses are applied to connect each row together. The cake is then taken to the drying building.
  • More than one damp cake is taken to be dried, around 20 depending on size at a time for economy and money saving issues.


20 cakes at a time will never be viable. You may want to find something that doesn't require drying. Hot glue, or some sort of curing resin/glue might work better. You may also want to take into consideration that the cakes could be loaded while wet or damp. This is another area where I'm not how the regulations work. If the tubes are fused but lacking all other compositions, do they need to be stored in a magazine? If so, you may want to consider waiting to fuse them until loading so that the more valuable explosive storage could be conserved.

Even if you do stick with PVA or wheat paste or something like that, there is no need for a drying building. Toss them directly into storage, and they'll dry overnight.

Cake Loading:

  • 'barrow' boys will deliver the cages of empty pre-prepared cakes, stars, powder, fuses and other materials to the construction building ready for assembly via the pyrotechnist.
  • Several empty pre-fused cakes are placed on the work bench and then a scoop of lift powder is applied to each tube of each cake laid out as quickly as possible.
  • The correct insert or other effects are then loaded above the lift powder for the specific rows in each cake, productions of the same cake will be done in one building.
  • The tubes will then be capped and the process will be repeated for the remainder cakes and sent out to the labellers and finishing building.
  • The finishers and labellers will apply the paper on top of the cake and side labelling and also apply re-enforced tape around the cake encase of a tube ruptor.
  • The cakes are then left to dry while other cakes are going through the same process.


I kind of hope you're kidding about the "Barrow boys". That will be you. There is no separation between the pyrotechnist and anyone else. This is still a manufacturing job, there is no hired cheap labor other than yourself. Might I suggest a golf cart to make things easier. Make this into an assembly line. One person adds the lift scoops, one drops in inserts/stars/comets, one presses a wad of paper, etc.

As far as labeling, are you thinking about doing consumer or commercial cakes? I would keep it simple. Brown paper wrapper and an adhesive label.

Packing of cakes:

  • The cakes are then packed into boxes and stored into a brass cage ready to be loaded into a magazine.


Edited by Mumbles, 11 July 2010 - 07:15 PM.


#70 Mumbles

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 07:28 PM

Joining to threads together, it would be interesting to price up the old methods bp, perchlorate oxidisers etc compared to sulfates/ carbonate oxidisers and sorbate lift. Not saying this is ready for production but it would be interesting to compare costs


Thanks portfire, I agree about low waged workers though companies can get away with it and what also sickens me is the fact large companies can pay less tax than a small company by using transfer funding to get away with it. That is always the idea on bringing back the oldies plus more! and with the effects we now have and new formula we can achieve so much more and so much better. Ill keep looking into cakes, I believe the Chinese do have nice quick methods, dam I see one worker churning out hundreds a day. I guess if you produced cakes you would need to produce large luxury cakes and a selected range and not these snap crackle and pop and who whistle and pop mini cakes and other crap flooding our market.



Your "new" formulas for stars are way too expensive. The metal is by far the most expensive component. Even in bulk, metals are at least $5 or $6 per pound if not more. Everything else is well under two. Chlorine donors may be a bit higher, but not nearly to the metal level. The carbonate/sulfate formulas use at least twice as much metal as conventional formulas. When perc is available in bulk at reasonable prices, you'll have a hard time justifying the carbonate/sulfate formulas.

The sorbate is interesting. It could be viable if compared against commercial BP. If you make lift on site, it doesn't compare though. There are consistency issues there of course though.

#71 pyrotechnist

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 09:04 PM

The chemical sign out per weighing is what I was originally going for and I am talking about this on a larger production scale not just a few people or out. The pyrotechnist would mainly stay doing their jobs while people would get them more materials like tubes, cakes, fuse etc etc. What is bad about using quick drying solvent to fill the tops of insert tubes with a card cap? Saves the danger of adding a any force to a flash type composition or anything else that may be sensitive or easily broke and plus it is quicker.

The Chinese actually have a machine that can plug tubes though it seems to go on a rotary type system. Pressing them wont be to hard neither and why press by hand when you can press loads at the same time by a machine consistently. The Chinese also seem to use the visco delay on all cakes with pretty good timing which wont really take as long as say pressing a delay which also wont create enough confinement to a black powder burst unless the delay was added to say clay or something.

The experimental comps btw are just for testing and as a basis for further experiments, maybe I can get perc cheaper than metal but until I look more into it ill stick with them.
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#72 digger

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 10:56 PM

What is bad about using quick drying solvent to fill the tops of insert tubes with a card cap?


The problem with solvents is that they are solvents. Solvents present the biggest explosion risk that will be encountered in production. There are risks to workers that will require special PPE. There is extensive legislation regarding the use and the emission of solvents to the atmosphere (or rather prevention there of, special filtration and recovery etc).

If it is possible to avoid solvents then it should be done. Even car paint is now water based!
Phew that was close.

#73 pyrotechnist

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Posted 12 July 2010 - 12:36 PM

Ignore solvents :) I was tired when I typed that, what I meant to put was quick drying cement like mixture or quick drying paste etc. Even extremely cheap polyfilla mixed with PVA glue drys rock hard within 10 mins or so and seems to mould pretty well. I just dont like the idea of pressing clay on top of any sort of flash mixture. I know what you mean about solvents that's why I would not want to use them to fill every tube etc.

Mumbles I assume you are American and if so what suppliers would you class as selling in bulk at them prices?
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#74 Mumbles

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Posted 13 July 2010 - 04:59 AM

For you guys I would look into Nitro Paris specifically. They have very high quality materials at good prices if you buy enough.

#75 pyrotechnist

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Posted 13 July 2010 - 07:35 AM

Will take a look at them, thanks.
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