Made In Britain
In any weather, Outside Edge garden furniture is made to last and many items are now made in Britain! Our designs are made for domestic patios, gardens, courtyards, backyards, hotels, restaurants and cafes. Our aluminium products will not deteriorate, rust or rot so there is no need to store your metal furniture away in the autumn or winter.
This is why we offer up to a 10 year guarantee on our products!
Made in Britain, Outside Edge has become a major brand name associated with hassle free outdoor furniture made of aluminium and woven rattan.
Outside Edge has been involved in the importing, distribution and high end retailing of aluminium garden furniture since 1993. We started by sourcing high quality metal patio furniture that was manufactured in Cape Town, South Africa.
For 7 years we were the official UK distributor for Outdoor Lifestyle and we sold their cast aluminium chairs and tables very successfully through garden centres and exhibitions in the UK.
We offered the South African aluminium range at the Royal Chelsea Flower Show for several years, where we won awards for outstanding stand presentation. This high quality metal furniture was very popular and at the Royal Horticultural Society Shows we even won business as far away as Dubai.
In 2000, the owner of Outdoor Lifestyle decided to retire, so Outside Edge decided to find a new factory to produce existing designs and also to develop new products for UK and Europe. A high quality producer in Shanghai was selected who was already making high end aluminium furniture for distributors in the USA.
We still make 70% of our metal products in China and our strict quality controls have ensured constant supply of good quality products to the UK.
However, in 2014 we decided to start manufacturing in the UK, so we opened a foundry in Lancashire to initially make cast aluminium chairs for the UK garden furniture market; so we can now state that some of our patio products are made in Britain. We are slowly moving all furniture production to the UK but this will take up to 5 years to complete.
To establish a foundry takes endeavour, time and substantial investment but now we can truly call many of our garden products ‘Made In Britain’!
Made In Britain – Why Did We Decide To Make Furniture In The UK
- Total control over the manufacturing process – from the aluminium ingot to the finished patio chair in a box – we own the process! We can be total masters of our own destiny.
- To provide jobs in the UK
- Lead times – we can produce furniture within 3 weeks; the typical Chinese production and shipping lead time is 4 months. We also save on shipping costs and reduce our carbon footprint because we are not shipping garden products across the world!
- Currency Volatility – we are not at the mercy of the currency markets, if the dollar rises against the pound our prices don’t automatically shoot up.
- Heritage – the industrial revolution started in Britain and we are helping to bring manufacturing back here.
Made In Britain – UK Production
To make patio furniture for the garden that is durable and built for the long term, we make sure that the aluminium, fittings and powder coating is of the highest grade. Have a look at other outdoor furniture websites, how is their furniture made and why is the process not thoroughly described? We make our own furniture, we don’t rely on a 3rd party and so our products have proven integrity! You have to wonder why most retailers only offer a 1 year guarantee?
No Recycled Aluminium – Outside Edge only specifies unused aluminium as recycled metal usually has impurities which could rust or structurally fail. The welding of aluminium furniture is a very skilled task as the temperature tolerances are very narrow and foreign metals will cause random melting points. This would make strong welding very difficult. We use the 3000 series of aluminium alloys which contain a small amount of manganese. The manganese allows the molten metal to run freely when die casting.
Stainless Steel Nuts & Bolts – our aluminium patio tables and sun loungers have to be assembled and the fittings are stainless steel to obviously eliminate any chance of rusting. We only use the grade used on yachts and ships, which is 316.
Nylon Plugs – where our outdoor furniture is in contact in the ground we use nylon feet to protect the powder coating to eliminate chipping, deterioration and floor damage.
Aluminium Die Casting
Gravity die casting is a production method for making correctly proportioned, precisely engineered, stable and regular aluminium components. This is achieved by carefully running melted metal into cast iron moulds that can be used many thousands of times. The natural action of gravity fills the mould with molten aluminium, the metal cools and then the ‘die cast’ part is removed.
Made In Britain – Cast Iron Mould (the making of a patio chair back)
- Our pattern maker will use wax to form the inverse wax pattern of a part. We utilise a mixture of carnauba wax, bees wax and paraffin wax, our own secret recipe, to form the resin pattern which will produce a sharp cast iron mould. Cast and machined high quality iron moulds are used so that the mould can be used many times over – for example the mould for the back of our aluminium chairs can be used 140,000 times!
- The mould is made in two halves, as one side of the mould will be stationary and the other half will mechanically move back and forth, so that the parts can be easily removed. A die cast machine will securely hold the fixed die half, then the ejector die half will be powered left and right on stainless steel runners, which is gas powered.
- Our skilled die operator secures the moulds on the runners, checks the alignment and coats the inside of the moulds with a lubricant. The moulds have to be cleaned with an air jet every 3 cycles to prevent ‘sticking’. The operator then hydraulically brings the two halves together, they are then very tightly clamped together, molten aluminium is poured into the runner (aluminium melting temperature = 660 °C) via an iron ladle, the aluminium cools for about 20 seconds, the operator unclamps the mould halves and then removes the casting with industrial tongs.
- Fettling – the casting is then taken to the fettling department. Some flashing is unavoidable when casting, so the excess areas have to be cleaned off with hand files and sanding belts.
- Sand Casting Or Die Casting? The initial cost of a die mould is at least ten times more than for a sand mould. We use die cast moulds for speed, accuracy and sharpness. Sand casting is very labour intensive and is not cost viable in the UK garden furniture sector. If we used sand casting, the price of our products would be at least 3 times more than Chinese manufacturing costs. However, with a die casting factory producing at high volume, we can compete with the low Far East costs of production.
- Welding – the finished cast parts are then delivered to the welders who place them in a special jig for repeated accuracy. The ‘naked’ aluminium is carefully prepared before welding. Aluminium reacts immediately with oxygen, the natural state of the metal is aluminium oxide, and this oxide appears as a white surface film. Then the oxidisation stops, the film repels the elements and no further degradation occurs. However, the oxide affects welding strength and so it must be eliminated.
Made in Britain – Powder Coating
Powder Coating is used on many products that you use every day. Inside the home, in the garden, in your car, on buildings, on ships, in manufacturing plants, in the office, the list is almost endless.
It lasts much longer that conventional liquid coatings, especially outside, and is particularly effective when used on metal. Aluminium cannot rust but it does oxidise, so if the correct powder coating is not used aluminium paint will discolour and flake over time. Outside Edge uses powder coating which will last approximately 15 years.
Many producers just use normal paint which starts to flake and peel off after a couple of years. Again, it is crucial that the aluminium is scrupulously cleaned, otherwise the aluminium oxide will prevail and a white bloom will eventually appear through the powder coating, causing flaking and degradation.
Powder coating produces a barrier to the elements and also makes our furniture look great. The finish will fight off decay, UV light, water and minimise accidental abrasions. The coating is hard, attractive and durable.
Made In Britain – Coating Process
- The aluminium products are thoroughly cleaned with environmentally friendly solvents to remove weld stain, oxidisation, lubricants from the mould, general gunk and dust. This is vital or otherwise the powder will not adhere properly.
- Any solvent residue is then removed and the chair, table or part passes through an oven to remove moisture.
- The dry powder coating is then applied with an electrostatic gun; this must be done evenly but not too thinly.
- The product then passes through the oven again; the powder melts and adheres to the warm aluminium.
- Thermo lacquer is then applied to the furniture which passes through the oven once more to cure.
Made In Britain – Packaging
It always surprises us to see other manufacturers not paying special attention to the way their product is packed.
Our products are quality checked and then packed in mail order grade packaging:
- where required, nylon plugs are fitted
- foam spacing is placed around and between products
- cable ties are used to fasten foam and parts
- bubble wrap is utilised when needed
- finally the products are placed in a 5 ply mail order box and banded.
So, we make a well designed British product that is durable in the long term because:
- we own the manufacturing process
- we only use virgin aluminium
- we specify stainless steel fittings
- we use protective nylon feet
- aluminium die casting produces a better product
- we weld correctly
- we only do high quality powder coating
- we use lacquer application that lasts up to 15 years
- we only use mail order packaging.