HWlabs Interview - Wilbert Yuque
Person Interviewed: Wilbert Yuque
Company Position: Owner
Folks can call me Willie, I'm 25 and situated in Manila, Philippines. Yep, yes the Philippines. People often get pleasantly surprised to find out that we're a Filipino company.
When was your first interaction with computers?
Hmm...first time was with a Genie II, the one that came with a casette tape drive, but I try to repress all those memories (or lack thereof :P)...
When did your interests in computers expand to the water cooling aspect of it?
When I got my hands on a truly overclockable Cely 366 on a P3BF. Had a tough time looking for the darling 300a then. Then came my first Athlon 500 which I was able to clock to 700MHz using the stock HSF.
When was Hardware Labs first created?
February of 2000.
What was it like starting out?
Hmm...product development for the first Black Ice involved a lot of commitment in terms of capital, time, the hardware casualties and the personal sacrifices...
Frustrating, tiresome, cumbersome, excruciating, draining... the list never ends. But seeing posts in forums singing praises about our gear is often more than just rewarding. :)
How have you expanded since then?
The expansion can be seen in several aspects. Market penetration, manufacturing, and services. We have managed, with much help from fellow enthusiasts (thanks guys), to be the key supplier of many watercooling system system developers.
Our new machining center will soon provide us with the necessary ability to shorten development cycles dramatically.
HWLabs will be activating its Rapid Prototyping Manufacturing operations within the next quarter. This will seek to provide peripheral product development and engineering support for this market as well as the larger semiconductor industry.
Do you find living where you do harder to run your business in any way?
Yes and no.
Yes because there are a lot of key services like supplies and logistics that tend to get in the way of schedules. Not everyone in the supply chain, unfortunately exerts as much effort and attention as one usually does. But that is normal just about everywhere else albeit in varying degrees.
What makes it very easy, however, is how amazingly capable and flexible my crew is. Not to blow our trumptets, but our productivity and quality is exceptional by a lot of standards. People who take pride in their work, and severe disappointment in their failures are those who stand out.
what are the most comonly used materials in the production of a radiator?
It depends on what kind of radiators. Primarily you have brass, copper, and alluminum. We've abdicated using Al for reasons of performance and durability as it tends to corrode over time and has significantly poorer thermal characteristics when compared to copper.
Brass and copper on the other hand, effectively provides a long lasting and powerful solution for cooling.
Could you explain to us, from start to finish, the process that goes into making one of your radiators?
Hmm...where do we begin?
There are several main components in a radiator.
The tanks, headerplates, and brackets are stamped, natched, flared, trimmed, pierced and such, using 15 to 35 ton presses. The toolings required to make these parts is where most of the development in focussed as well as a key determinant in overall product quality.
The tubes are made using a tube rolling machine, but don't be fooled these aren't necessarily round tubes being rolled.
The copper fins are louvered and corrugated using precision fin making machines.
The fins are then stacked together with the tubes in a pneumatically actuated stacking fixture and then the headerplate is pressed onto the tubes thus forming the core.
The headerplates are then lightly dipped into liquid molten solder to fasten them to the tubes.
Then the core is then put onto a baking frame, treated with flux and solderpaste and then baked for 7 minutes.
The core is then rinsed, and transported to have the end tanks and brackets welded onto them.
After the "tank to core" and bracketing operations, the radiators are then attached to an airhose, and then submerged in a tank of water. This is what we call a wet leak test. In this segment, the radiator is tested at 13 PSI, then at 26 PSI and, then down to 13 PSI again. (Industry standard only uses two pressure tests during wet leak testing) Bubbles are not our friends in this part of the process. :)
Getting over the wet leak test, a "dry leak test" is conducted outside the tank. A fluctuation in the internal pressure of the radiator would indicate a leak.
Any rejected radiators are then set aside for recycling. The reason why we go a bit beyond what the automotive industry would do during leak testing when making radiators is because leaks are more critical in our application.
After the rigorous leak testing procedures, the radiators are then dried and prepared for painting. Afterwich it is insulated and packed, and then shipped. Phew.
I am sure most of us have been wondering WHERE does the water GO in your radiators? There's no visible tubing.
The tubings are there, they're just flat instead of round. Using flat tubes is better because the coolant achieves maximum contact with the tubes. In cases of round tubes, the coolant in the center doesn't conduct its heat to the radiator as effectively.
What would you say to people that are afraid of the dangers that are involved with watercooling your PC?
Well, the technology is indeed maturing. And no doubt, the people whom HWLabs has worked with, are all enthusiasts at heart and some remarkable engineers by trade, whom themselves have constructed their equipment to make sure the risk of failures are minimized.
But in case water for computing still provides apprehension, HWLabs is working on a solution, as in a dielectric coolant, to address these concerns.
The fact is that more and more people are getting into watercooling, and the factors of safety and reliability are ever increasing.
HWLabs itself has taken this into consideration and have enacted serious testing and quality control regimens.
Is there any particular reason that Hwlabs.com does not sell their radiators?
You mean on a retail basis?
Well that's because retailing from our part of the world usually makes it more costly in terms of transaction costs and shipping. Moreover, we believe that our dealers are the best people customers can approach for their individual needs.
This also compells us to cooperate with our resellers and dealers to focus on our core competencies.
Where can people go to buy your Radiators?
What is your best selling product at the moment?
That would be the Black Ice Xtreme followed by the Black Ice Pro, and then the Black Ice II. The Black Ice Micro, the first PC radiator that uses an 80mm fan is fast gaining popularity as well despite its recent launch.
What are the specs of the current machine/s you own
Main machine is an Athlon T-bird 1.4 GHz@1.6GHz on a Shuttle KAK35GTR (gotta love the non-standard voltage adjustments) with 512 MB DDR currently using a Chaintech GF4 Ti4600, with 2 40GB Maxtor Diamond Max Plus on RAID 1 (Soon to be on a Promise Supertrak SX6000 with 5 60GB HDDs in RAID5), 60x CD-ROM, Asus 32/12/40x CDRW, Soundblaster Live! Value, Orinoco wireless USB client, Netodragon 56K winmodem and a Winfast XP2000 TV/Radio tuner card connected to a Viewsonic G90m, audio piped out to an Altec Lansing ATP3.
Cooling system is any waterblock I decide to hook up to a Black Ice Xtreme in an in-line configuration.
That's usually on a good day when I keep it together in a modded YY-5403...(I can't stop tinkering HELP!) ;)
The secondary machine is a Duron 750 @1 GHz with 512MB PC133 SDRAM on an ECS K7S5A (I hope I remember these designations correctly), GF2 MX400, Fujitsu 7200RPM HDD with. Monitor is an AOC 7Glra.
The third one is an Intel Celeron 600 @ 933 on a venerable BX mobo (I forget which), with 256MB of RAM, 20GB Seagate HDD, GeForce 256, viewed on an AOC KGlra.
The proto PC is a modded Abit KT7A RaID mobo that is configured with just about anything I can put on it for testing purposes.
Laptop is an Acer Travelmate 3200, 1.6 GHz P4m, 256MB DDR, 20GB HDD, 8X/20x DVD/CD-ROM, Orinoco Gold PCMCIA wireless client.
How many of those machines are running watercooling?
Two, my machine and my mom's.
We have to ask you--Do you have any case mods?
I've done a few personally. Nothing as elite as some of our customers have done or the works of art on the net. But suffice to say its been a long way since I did my first case mod using a ginzu bread knife. (I kid you not.)