Justin: I'm Justin with americantrucks.com and in this episode of "The Haul," we're firing up the welders and showing you how some of the best bumpers in the business are made here are the Addictive Desert Designs. We're just outside Mesa, Arizona, home of the ADD, better known as Addictive Desert Designs. I'm here with Dom. Dom, you do it all for the company, man. Marketing, media, lunch recommendations, you're pretty much a one-man band. But for the guys who don't know watching at home, tell them a little bit more about what ADD is all about.
Dom: So, we make bumpers, side steps, chase racks, and a little bit of suspension for almost every new make and model of truck. We do it all under our roof here, so everything is 100% in-house, from design to laser cut to brake to weld to even powder coat. So, I'm gonna take you through kind of a start to finish how we make the products, so how it gets from just an idea to something like this.
Justin: Sounds like a busy day, let's get to it. All right, Dom, so this is pretty much where all the awesomeness begins, right, all your raw materials.
Justin: So, what are we dealing with here? We got some three-sixteenths-inch plate, we also got some aluminum stuff as well, correct?
Dom: Correct. We try to make all of our structural stuff, all the skeleton, the entire bumper out of steel, usually three-sixteenths so we get that nice strength out of it. And anything that is just outside the exterior that doesn't really need to be strong we'll make out a one-eighth-inch. We also make our panels out of aluminum.
Justin: So, this is bumpers, side steps, everything starts here, correct?
Dom: All of it starts from this flat sheet of metal.
Justin: What do we got up next here?
Dom: So, this is our laser cutting machine right here. All of the flat work from over there gets loaded up on that bed behind this, and this is where it comes in to get cut to shape.
Justin: Well, that is crazy. So, can you tell by all the craziness right now what it's actually cutting?
Dom: Looks like we're cutting some supports, maybe some inner structure for our bumpers in there.
Justin: Because right now it just looks like a big metal puzzle.
Dom: If you look on the screen here, you'll see where the head's already gone and where it's gonna go to next.
Dom: So, that's our programmers basically play Tetris on there and try to fit as many pieces they can on a single sheet.
Justin: That's awesome, and you were telling me this thing actually runs off of liquid nitrogen, huh?
Dom: That's right. We have a big tank out there.
Justin: Science, man. This is a rear bumper for an F-150 as it comes out of the laser correct?
Dom: That's right. This is actually a full kit of six of them.
Dom: So, it's every part you need to a bumper, times six. That's why everything is stacked up like that.
Justin: Build your own bumper kit. There you go. Why don't you just ship them like that, you know? Like a big-time erector set. Well, Dom, this looks like a Machine you don't wanna get your finger caught in, brother.
Dom: That's right. So, this is our press brake, right here. Once stuff comes out of the laser cut, it's all flat. So this right here basically takes it and bends it tp a perfect angle for you.
Justin: Wow, okay.
Dom: So everything's pre-programmed. Just put it in, hit go, the machine does the work for you.
Justin: Just like that, huh? A lot of laser stuff going on it looks like too, huh?
Dom: Oh yeah, that's just to make sure you don't get your finger caught in it.
Justin: He's basically measuring right now, making sure that angle is on point.
Dom: That's right. So, he has a spec on-screen that he needs to follow and make sure it's perfect.
Justin: So Dom, we just saw laser cutting and the braking and all that stuff, but now all these pieces have to come together right, and that's where we are?
Dom: That's right. So each one of these bays is a different welder. Everybody takes a product from start to finish, they do all the welding, the grinding, and then they send it off to the cleaning department.
Justin: Nice, man. It looks like we actually have some rock sliders coming together right here. Are these actually for an F-150?
Dom: Yes, they are. So, they'll fit anything from an '09, forward F-150, and the Raptor, as well.
Justin: Explain to the guys at home who might not know the benefits of going with, like, a rock slider as opposed to, like, a nerf bar or something like that.
Dom: So, the rock slider is actually going to give you some protection. So, we have this fully smooth underbody here. If you were to hit rock soft road it would actually deflect it, help you slide off of them a little bit instead of bending up. We have ribs inside of here to reinforce that bottom to make sure it won't bend.
Dom: We've actually tested them out by lifting the whole truck up with a forklift by the sliders.
Justin: That is awesome, very cool. And these look incredibly burly, man. I'm sure they could take some pretty gnarly abuse, huh?
Dom: Oh, yeah.
Justin: Very cool. Well, I can kind of like poke my head around and see some stealth sliders coming together over here. Now, this is gonna be one of my favorite bumpers you guys make. Full disclosure, I've got these coming for my Raptor, spoiler alert. And it's actually one of your most popular bumpers currently, right?
Dom: Yeah, it actually is our bestselling bumper.
Justin: That's awesome, man. And these, you were telling me, are actually gonna be for a 2018.
Dom: That's right. So, this is our newest product as well, newest design, bestselling bumper, and the newest product for it.
Justin: There it is in its raw form right now. So basically, he's still welding this thing together and then from there it goes to powder coating and all that good stuff. You could see the quality of the welds, which the guys at home usually don't see when they get their new bumpers shipped to them because they're all smoothed out and then powder coated.
Dom: All of our metal is bought from America, it's all American sourced. So, the parts that go into it, everything is American.
Justin: As his shirt says, as you can see right there, "Made in America," baby. So he's grinding down these beautiful welds. I mean, as somebody who sucks at welding, that's almost a crime but you want a nice smooth product, correct?
Dom: That's right. So on some of the corners we just don't want the weld showing, so we grind it down smooth. You have to make sure to round the corners perfect, make sure there's gonna be no ripple showing, so when the paint goes on it just looks like a perfect seam.
Justin: Okay, so, seems easy enough.
Dom: That's right, wanna give it a shot?
Justin: Kidding me? Absolutely. So, what's the goal here? Not to burn through the metal, obviously.
Welder: Exactly, yeah. See color change, that means your metal is getting really thin and hot. That means you are about to pop a hole through it.
Justin: We don't want to do that.
Welder: Just go slow and be patient with it.
Justin: Right on. Thanks, brother, I appreciate you letting me get on this thing. And I am glad to say I didn't burn a hole in that, so I didn't wanna make more work for you. Thanks, dude.
Welder: Thank you.
Dom: So, after welding, each complete bumper comes over here. This is our quality control department. So, this is where it is looked over for any defects or small things that the welders might need to fix before it goes through to cleaning. So, I'm going to hand this over to CJ.
Justin: Hey, what's going on CJ, how are you doing?
CJ: What's going on? [inaudible 00:06:04]
Justin: Thank you, Dom. Appreciate it, brother. All right, well, we got a room full of bumpers here. Explain to everybody watching at home what your role is, at least within this room.
CJ: All the fabricators produce their product and they bring it into here, and this is what we call a QC room. So, we do all of the quality control.
Justin: So, you're getting a set of eyeballs and hands on every single product you guys turn out.
CJ: Every single one.
Justin: Making sure everything is perfect right?
CJ: Oh yeah.
Justin: So, let's check this bumper out right here real quick, and tell everybody at home, what you're looking for as far as what passes and maybe what doesn't pass when you're quality controlling a bumper.
CJ: Okay. Well, first off, I look at any of the grinds, if they are there. So, I make sure they look like the radius that, you know, that it's supposed to be. It's uniform, everything is smooth. Making sure that there's no miss-welds, pinholes, everything looks uniform and up to our quality standards.
Justin: Basically, you guys hands-on, eyes-on every single part you produce.
CJ: Every single one.
Justin: From here where do we go?
CJ: Now we go over to our cleaning division.
Justin: Cool. All right CJ. so here we go. We're in the cleaning room, so tell me what Will here's about to do with this thing.
CJ: Will's gonna go over and do a final processing clean on it, so he's gonna chip all the slag off of there, any of the berries, imperfections. He's also gonna use a grinder with a finer grinding disc and even a polishing disc to go over all the welds and grinds on the entire bumper.
Justin: Okay, because obviously, at this point the big step is making this thing good to accept that powder coat, which is coming up very soon?
CJ: Correct, correct.
Justin: Okay. But we do have one more step in between powder coat and what Will is doing right now, and that is sandblast?
CJ: Yes, it is.
Justin: Let's go do that, huh?
CJ: All righty.
Justin: Let's do this stuff. So, now, it's time for sandblast, huh?
CJ: Yes, sir.
Justin: Carry this thing in then. All right, brother.
CJ: So, he's just gonna blast it, that'll basically prep all of the material. This way, the powder coat itself will adhere to it.
Justin: All right, guys, so here, you get a better idea of what actually happens during sandblasting. Now, these are the parts all cleaned up and DAed, meaning, like an orbital sander. And you can tell they're clean but they're still a little rough. Over here is what they look like when they're out of the sandblaster. Really, really nice and smooth, uniform finish, gives it a really nice surface for that powder coat to adhere to it.
CJ: So, this is our powder coat division where all the products come and get all the powder coat and move on. So, I'm gonna give it back to Dom.
Justin: Thanks, CJ. Appreciate it, man.
CJ: No problem.
Justin: Dom, we're back with you, brother, and we're looking at some powder coating.
Dom: So, we actually take every product through a two-stage process here. So, what we do is we'll shoot our primer, which is actually what this rack is going through right here now, which is zinc coating. And then we'll take that, put it in the oven, bake it to fully cure it. And when it's fully cured, we take it out, and we do a color shoot, and then we put that back in the oven to bake it, fully cure that as well before it goes over to assembly.
Justin: Let's walk over to this oven because it's not just any oven, man. This thing is massive. I heard it's 30 feet deep all together?
Dom: That's right.
Justin: And bakes up to, what, 400-some degrees?
Dom: That's exactly right.
Justin: I'm getting too close to this thing now, I feel the heat just radiating off of it. Well, that's very important because it's gonna give you an extremely durable finish, especially with the two-stage job right, where you bang this stuff on rocks, trees, it's not gonna scratch as easily.
Dom: Exactly, helps prevent rust as well in those extreme conditions. Take it through snow, salt, anything you want.
Justin: Well, once these things reach medium rare, we come over here, and essentially this is your finished product.
Dom: That's right, these were actually taken out of the oven about 30 minutes ago.
Justin: Everything is still apart though so which means they have to get assembled.
Dom: That is our next step. From here, take you over to the assembly department.
Justin: All right, Dom. So, it looks like we are getting close to the finish line here, my friend.
Dom: So, what we'll be doing here is putting on all the panels. We like to put them in, just make an even gap around all edges so everything looks uniform. Make sure it looks good as we can make it look here.
Justin: So, I'm gonna help Victor out here, throw a few panels on, hopefully, get them as uniform as possible. And if I'm sucking, just tell me and I'll get out of the way. There you are. Some 2018 F-150 owner is gonna get hand-built bumper by yours truly, and I'm sorry about that.
Dom: So, this is our packaging department. Before we take the bumper over here, put a layer of foam down. It's kind of a protective layer between the bumper and the bottom of the box. It's a two-part foam, it dries really quickly, be about 10 seconds till it's fully cured after they shoot it.
Justin: I'd image when they ship something this big and heavy, you need a good barrier between the stuff because you don't want things to get banged up in shipping, correct?
Dom: That's exactly right.
Justin: Well, a lot of people might not know that you do more than just bumpers, armor, chase racks. You actually, you do a lot of suspension stuff, as well. And I understand you have a rig set up that we can check out some of that.
Dom: That's right. We got a '17 Raptor waiting for you over in our R and D department.
Justin: Now you're talking my language, let's go check that thing out. So, Dom, this is your 2017 Raptor. You pretty much use this to develop all of the parts for the newer second gen trucks. And it looks like we got a lot of bling going on in this under well, right here. Tell us a little bit more about what you have going on.
Dom: So, this is our full front suspension kit, right here. Which comes with a set of upper arms, lower arms, a steering kit, and your fabricated spindle.
Justin: Very tough looking stuff, right?
Dom: Yeah. So everything is here, three-sixteen-plate steel. It's all fully fabricated, it's all ribbed, reinforce, double shear steering mount. Everything is much stronger than OEM.
Justin: So, you got spherical bearings in here and everything. Just a much tougher design compared to, like, factory rubber bushings, right?
Dom: Much, yeah. So, we actually also have spherical bearings in the lower, it's really hard to see, though, because they are encased in there. So, these ones are out in the open.
Justin: And the Fox stuff, obviously, isn't related to the upper or lower control arms, they're just a very baller set of coilovers, right?
Dom: Exactly. Sold separately, but also very highly recommended.
Justin: Well, let's move around back because it sounds like you got some cool stuff going back here, as well. Namely, the bump stop kit, which I understand correctly, unlike other kits, you don't have to take the whole bed off to install that, correct?
Dom: That's right. There is a cross member that runs between the two cam mounts, so when you do make contact down here, it'll take up some of the force. However, it doesn't require to take the bed off to put that in.
Justin: Nice. So, if you really want to send your truck, you need one of these in place.
Dom: Yes. Two and a half inches of travel, it's a Fox bump stop. It really does smooth off that last bit of travel, it really helps out.
Justin: And, of course, the matching Fox stuff back here, as well. No deevers with this kit yet?
Dom: Not yet.
Justin: All right, good deal. Well, what's the chance I can get the keys to this thing, and as a Raptor owner, compare the experience?
Dom: I think we can do that.
Justin: All right guys, so we're out in the ADD 2017 Raptor. This is actually the owner of the company's truck. To be completely honest, it's not going to be the gnarliest test drive I've ever done. Instead, it's just a good opportunity to take this thing out and see what it feels like here, with these bolt-ons.
And honestly, the truck rides really good. We got some big 37-inch-tall tires on this thing. Really, really high dollar suspension on this truck. And, you know, if anything, that's what I'm gonna be feeling the most on this test drive.
The steering is a lot more direct, and that's something that Chris from ADD would tell me when we were talking about these parts initially. He said, you know, "Before with all the stock stuff, you change lanes, it would kind of self-center itself," whatever. Now, I mean, your steering inputs need to be direct, and you need to tell the truck where to go.
But, that being said, if you did subject your Raptor to a lot of dune runs, jumping, all that stuff, the bump stop kit, with the Fox racing goodies pre-loaded in it, the upper lower control arm, the steering arm, all that stuff is what you need if you wanna utilize your Raptor to the fullest extent.
You know, as a Raptor owner and as a fan of ADD, some of the parts that you have seen today, might be making their way over to my truck eventually with a build. So, you have to stay tuned. If you like cool truck content, definitely make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel for more stuff coming your way very soon, including my build.
When it comes to high-end off-roading parts or really nicely made off-roading parts, it really doesn't get much better than ADD. Thank you so much, by the way. Seriously, man, appreciate the tour, showing us how you build everything. It was really awesome.
Dom: Cool. Thanks for coming out. I hope you guys really enjoyed yourself.
Justin: We certainly did and if you guys wanna check out some of these ADD parts for your F-150 or your Raptor, you know where to find 'em, americantrucks.com. In the main time, from Mesa Arizona, for all things F-150, keep it right here at americantrucks.com.