How much does it cost companies to create popular firearms?


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Sobel
January 6, 2012, 05:15 PM
I've always wondered how much it costs them to create the things we buy. I'd like to know how much profit they make off some of the most popular weapons. Could it really cost hundreds of dollars to make a glock,beretta,or smith & wesson?

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Sam1911
January 6, 2012, 05:19 PM
Do you want to know how much the cost is when the investment of money into development, testing, tooling, insurance, company overhead, licenses, etc. is ameliorated into the price of each handgun, or are you just looking for strictly the raw materials, labor cost, energy costs, and other direct costs of each unit?

Shadow 7D
January 6, 2012, 05:20 PM
lots
the manufacture isn't all that expensive, but then into the profit margin you have to look at advertisement

Consider Springfield Armory is JUST a marketing company (relabeler, and for the M1A and assembler) Or EAA, a company that sell a good product (the Tanfoglio TZ line and subsequent versions) but has crappy CS and little marketing

Sobel
January 6, 2012, 05:21 PM
Do you want to know how much the cost is when the investment of money into development, testing, tooling, insurance, company overhead, licenses, etc. is ameliorated into the price of each handgun, or are you just looking for strictly the raw materials, labor cost, energy costs, and other direct costs of each unit?
The raw materials, labor cost, energy costs, and other direct costs of each unit if you will. I wouldn't want to ask for all the info. But, if your willing to share I'd love to know.

signalzero
January 6, 2012, 06:06 PM
I'd wager that you'll have a difficult time finding that exact information due to a variety of reasons (companies protect this kind of data). But as an example, I believe the average Glock pistol costs around $60 to produce.

Sobel
January 6, 2012, 06:22 PM
I'd wager that you'll have a difficult time finding that exact information due to a variety of reasons (companies protect this kind of data). But as an example, I believe the average Glock pistol costs around $60 to produce.
Wow and they charge 400+ thats a nice profit margin.

SlamFire1
January 6, 2012, 06:32 PM
Break it down.

Facilities cost. How much does it cost to own a chunk of land, put machinery on it, water and electricity, and taxes.

Non Recoverable Engineering. How much did it cost to design the thing?
Test: How much did it cost to test the prototype design?

How much for the touch labor?

I met in the pits at Camp Perry, the production manager for a Chrysler transmission factory. He said it cost $800 million to seamlessly change 13% of the parts in one transmission.

I donít see how you can buy a small firearms manufacturing plant for less than $100 million, at least.

And that development of a new firearm will cost at least $30 million.

Sobel
January 6, 2012, 06:36 PM
Break it down.

Facilities cost. How much does it cost to own a chunk of land, put machinery on it, water and electricity, and taxes.

Non Recoverable Engineering. How much did it cost to design the thing?
Test: How much did it cost to test the prototype design?

How much for the touch labor?

I met in the pits at Camp Perry, the production manager for a Chrysler transmission factory. He said it cost $800 million to seamlessly change 13% of the parts in one transmission.

I donít see how you can buy a small firearms manufacturing plant for less than $100 million, at least.

And that development of a new firearm will cost at least $30 million.
Very true, on higher level of running the entire business and such it seems kinda small of a profit but on a I have all the parts and stick em together for 60$ and charge you 550$ I would be a bandit. Can't forget you pay for the brand too which is the same across all sales. Nikes will always be expensive compared to a less known brand.

JustinJ
January 6, 2012, 06:42 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by signalzero
I'd wager that you'll have a difficult time finding that exact information due to a variety of reasons (companies protect this kind of data). But as an example, I believe the average Glock pistol costs around $60 to produce.

Wow and they charge 400+ thats a nice profit margin.

Profit is money after all costs, including all those mentioned in post #2. Not just difference between cost of parts and retail price. Also remember that the retail price is not what the maker gets for the gun. Also, the maker does not get anything near what you pay in the store per unit. They sell it to a distributor who sells it to the stores. Sometimes there are importers/exporters in there as well. Each has marked the gun up along the way.

45_auto
January 6, 2012, 06:43 PM
I believe the average Glock pistol costs around $60 to produce.

All you have to do is pay a couple of dozen engineers 100K/year, a dozen CNC machine operaters 70K/year, a dozen techs about 50K/year, half a dozen managers 200K/year, a dozen admins about 50K/year, buy 8 or 10 CNC machining centers for $1,000,000 or so apiece, buy some buildings or pay some rent to the tune of $20K/month, come up with about $5K/month in utilities, spend several million on advertising each year, then you can probably produce handguns for about $60 each. Don't forget to add the lawyers fees for complying with federal and local laws and lawsuits into your costs too.

Wow and they charge 400+ thats a nice profit margin.

Dealers sell them for $400+. Glock wholesells them for around $300. Figure a couple of hundred per gun goes into supporting all the Glock infrastructure, and Glock probably makes a profit of $30-$40 per gun.

Just found this:

But the BusinessWeekstory says Glock estimated its "profit margin per pistol" at 68 percent. And consider a major Glock competitor: Massachusetts-based Smith & Wesson, established back in the 1850s. The company's last annual report cites a gross margin of 32 percent.

The company does cite two big hurdles to business, though. The first: federal and state laws. "Compliance with all of these regulations is costly and time consuming," the company writes. "Although we take every measure to ensure compliance with the many regulations we are subject to, inadvertent violation of any of these regulations could cause us to incur fines and penalties." The second: lawsuits. "We are currently involved in numerous lawsuits, including a law suit involving a municipality, a securities class action lawsuit, and two purported stockholder derivative lawsuits," it notes, dryly. That seriously cuts into the bottom line.

If Glock makes guns for $60, and makes 68% profit per pistol, that's about $40 per pistol.

jmr40
January 6, 2012, 07:48 PM
the average Glock pistol costs around $60 to produce.

Wow and they charge 400+ thats a nice profit margin.

It is quite possible they have less than $60 in raw materials. It is also quite possible that the 1911 someone pays $1,200 for only cost the manufacturer around $200 to make. That is until you factor in the millons spent on R&D, advertising, insurance, taxes, shipping, employee wages, etc.

A gun or any other consumer products value has no connection to what it costs to manufacture it. With many items we regularly buy will cost the manufacturer less to make, than the price of the package it comes in. Software that costs the consumer $200 only costs pennies to produce.

Skribs
January 6, 2012, 07:59 PM
Not to mention the price of any support staff they have for customer support.

Bubbles
January 6, 2012, 08:35 PM
Don't forget 10-11% FAET is rolled into that retail price.

danez71
January 6, 2012, 08:54 PM
Ruger's gross margin was 32.9% in 2010 if that helps.

PLRinmypocket
January 6, 2012, 09:57 PM
The first gun of a new design costs about $250,000 to $500,000 and 1-2 years work to develop.
The guns after that cost $100-$1,000 each to produce, depending on the complexity.

just a rough estimate though, and based on designing a gun for mass production. Designing and building a one-off custom gun would take much less.

PT92
January 6, 2012, 10:27 PM
Not to oversimplify, but I am quite certain that the general rules of Capitalism permeate every industry including firearms--meaning there will be some fine reputable companies that operate fairly within the general regulations/principles of supply and demand and those companies that try and gouge customers as well.

-Happy New Year

simonm2211
January 6, 2012, 10:42 PM
...there will be some fine reputable companies that operate fairly within the general regulations/principles of supply and demand and those companies that try and gouge customers as well.

If you mean by gouging that they charge the maximum amount the market will pay, that is capitalism. It's the whole point.

PT92
January 6, 2012, 10:46 PM
If you mean by gouging that they charge the maximum amount the market will pay, that is capitalism. It's the whole point.

Doesn't mean I like to bend over and grab ankles at the gas pump for example.

-Happy New Year

devans0
January 7, 2012, 03:48 AM
IMO, the cheap guns are AK's. The Kalishnikovs were a "people's gun" that were low-technology stamped metal parts on a tough but not as accurate rifle. Even a third world country could pound them out, they are cheap to manufacture, thus they are favored by developing countries.

If you think that Glock is making an obscene profit, buy shares in their company and become rich.

Sobel
January 7, 2012, 05:20 AM
IMO, the cheap guns are AK's. The Kalishnikovs were a "people's gun" that were low-technology stamped metal parts on a tough but not as accurate rifle. Even a third world country could pound them out, they are cheap to manufacture, thus they are favored by developing countries.

If you think that Glock is making an obscene profit, buy shares in their company and become rich.
Well I only used glock as an example. I've seen some pretty expensive ak's as well.

captain awesome
January 7, 2012, 06:06 AM
i once contacted magnum research with an idea for a new revolver, and was quoted something like 300k to get one in my hands. and that is with them already owning he plant and machinery to do it. R&D is very expensive.

simonm2211
January 7, 2012, 10:21 AM
The domestic gun market is so fractured and so diverse, it is difficult to see how any manufacturer could be making large (percentage) profits. There are so many suppliers competing for the same dollars that if someone comes out with a hit product, another manufacturer will surely try to replicate the success. Costs that go into running the business that are not always considered but are usually very significant include inventory holding costs, marketing, administration and depreciation of property, plant and equipment to name a few. There is also the cost for product obsolescence and covering the costs of product lines that lost money. Throw in payroll taxes, intellectual property protection legal fees and the list grows. The cost of raw materials, labor inputs and CNC machining centers (amortized over perhaps 10 years) is just a fraction of it.

A gross margin of 68 percent on a cost $60 means that the price achieved by Glock would be $187.50 ($60/(1-0.68). Their net margin would be significantly less with many costs coming out of the $127.50 difference.

Sobel
January 7, 2012, 03:26 PM
The domestic gun market is so fractured and so diverse, it is difficult to see how any manufacturer could be making large (percentage) profits. There are so many suppliers competing for the same dollars that if someone comes out with a hit product, another manufacturer will surely try to replicate the success. Costs that go into running the business that are not always considered but are usually very significant include inventory holding costs, marketing, administration and depreciation of property, plant and equipment to name a few. There is also the cost for product obsolescence and covering the costs of product lines that lost money. Throw in payroll taxes, intellectual property protection legal fees and the list grows. The cost of raw materials, labor inputs and CNC machining centers (amortized over perhaps 10 years) is just a fraction of it.

A gross margin of 68 percent on a cost $60 means that the price achieved by Glock would be $187.50 ($60/(1-0.68). Their net margin would be significantly less with many costs coming out of the $127.50 difference.
Never looked at it like that. Even tho they aren't making tons on one product I'm fairly certain they are doing fairly well in the grand scope of things.

Sobel
January 7, 2012, 03:27 PM
i once contacted magnum research with an idea for a new revolver, and was quoted something like 300k to get one in my hands. and that is with them already owning he plant and machinery to do it. R&D is very expensive.
holy cow, that is an astonishing amount to get it to you. Tho it seems kinda nice that they would put that much into their service.

Shadow 7D
January 7, 2012, 04:51 PM
well consider you are paying a machinist and his union dues and the COST of him NOT working on production (so his wages and the cost of him NOT working on the line)

and the engineering to make sure it won't blow up in your face, the hand mating,
AND here is the kicker, the testing, proofing the gun, accuracy, and then you have to think of what happens to improve the prototype.

You could probably cut the parts at a local machine shop if you had the blueprints already made at a local shop (esp a CNC, but realize that will cost lots more than a friend doing on his off time when the shop is closed)

You can off shore it to places like Zastava, the other CZ, makers of the Mini-Mauser and the M48, and the M57 tokarev, and the EZ line (sig P6 clones) of EAA, or FEG (doing walther contract production and military) or the Bulgarian firms (don't recall thier name)
Radom will do contract production as will CZ

the point is this, ANY place that you use will charge LOTS, I think Zastava will sell R&D on thier CNC with 'engineering' technical assistance' for something like a 100 hours for 200k (from a web page on their site about 2 years ago, no longer there)

And you are buying time on a machine that can mill a forging every 30 seconds to run a one off.

Kinda puts a custom build by a local gunsmith in perspective

deadin
January 7, 2012, 06:47 PM
An example would be this sight. I made it from scratch and it probably doesn't have more than a couple of $ in material and maybe 10 or 15 hours of my time in it. (which isn't worth much as I'm retired)


It's the $5,000+ dollars worth of machine tools that add up.....

btg3
January 7, 2012, 07:05 PM
Buy used!

orionengnr
January 7, 2012, 08:14 PM
I don't know if Glock is a publicly-traded company (nor do I care, as I do not invest in single stocks).
But S&W is, and you can be certain that if they were producing pistols for $60 and selling them for $400, their profit margins (and shortly thereafter, their stock prices) would reflect that...probably in a dramatic fashion.

My point? As some earlier posters stated, the actual raw materials/production cost is only a portion of the actual cost associated with producing a consmer good, and is a small percentage of the selling price.

Shadow 7D
January 7, 2012, 08:24 PM
Ok, so lets do this again

the company make the gun for ~$60
they sell the gun WHOLESALE (so it sells for $450, what is the store buying it for??? most likely less than $350)

well, the manufacture also has to pay wages, and facility, and insurance, and utility and infrastructure (CNC machines, tooling etc.)

So after all that, they make about $40 on the gun SOLD AT WHOLESALE

Yeah I'm sure they would love to make multiple hundreds of dollars, but they don't thats not how it works, they have to pay their bills too, and so does the distributors and so does the gun shop

And ALL of those add cost into the final retail sales price.

OH_Spartan
January 7, 2012, 08:31 PM
S&W is publicly traded company (SWHC).
Revenue: $415 M
Gross Margin: $115; 24%, this is after direct cost-of-goods
EBITDA: $24 M, 6% (accounts for management, R&D, legal, HR, etc.).

Earnings after all write-offs: -$86 M.

The only made 6% before write-offs, and lost $86 M overall.....DURING A COMPLETE BOOM IN FIREARM SALES!!!!! This isn't exaclty an investment that excites me.

OH_Spartan
January 7, 2012, 08:36 PM
Ruger is a publicly traded company (RGR).
Revenue: $300 M
Gross margin: $84 M; 28%
EBITDA: $68 M; 23%

Earnings after all write-offs: $35 M; 11%

gearhead
January 7, 2012, 10:13 PM
And across the board for US manufacturing companies that's pretty typical. 8%-12%. I've designed and costed consumer products for years and depending on the accounting methods used very few mature industries can sustain over 15% margins after all expenses and write-offs due to the level of competition. Manufacturing is expensive.

Sobel
January 7, 2012, 10:49 PM
S&W is publicly traded company (SWHC).
Revenue: $415 M
Gross Margin: $115; 24%, this is after direct cost-of-goods
EBITDA: $24 M, 6% (accounts for management, R&D, legal, HR, etc.).

Earnings after all write-offs: -$86 M.

The only made 6% before write-offs, and lost $86 M overall.....DURING A COMPLETE BOOM IN FIREARM SALES!!!!! This isn't exaclty an investment that excites me.
Thank you for those numbers, I wonder if any parts of our society make lots of profit. Would a place that just customizes guns make more? I didn't realize how expensive the tools to make all the parts were so expensive.

browneu
January 7, 2012, 11:13 PM
I didn't notice anyone mention this during my scan of the posts but there are other things adding to the costs besides tooling, raw materials, and labor from machinests and engineers.

Costs from departments that aren't related to the manufacturing of the firearm greatly adds to the wholesale price. I'm talking about having a finance department that does the accounting and budgeting for the company. A marketing department to promote and develop interest in the current products, ensure the pricing is correct, and doing market research for new product development. Included in the marketing department will be a sales staff to execute marketing campaigns. And we cannot forget the attorneys to protect and apply for patents, ensuring marketing isn't making false claims, and doing other things to protect the company's interests.

All of this adds to the cost of the final product and unfortunately for us (fortunate for those of us in these fields) these professionals are not cheap.

Sobel
January 8, 2012, 12:07 AM
I don't wanna ask yet another question but what makes surplus weapons cheaper? Is it because they just have newer items so the old stock becomes something they want to get rid of?

JohnKSa
January 8, 2012, 12:16 AM
Legal/insurance costs are probably very high. We often don't think about such things, but they can really affect the profitability of an enterprise.

A peripherally related example is an M.D. acquaintance of mine who runs a small general practice in a rural TX town. About 15 years ago he dropped the Ob/Gyn part of his practice because he could no longer make a profit while offering that service. His insurance costs just for that part of his practice were running him $60,000 a year.

It wouldn't surprise me to find that insurance/legal costs easily outweigh manufacturing and materials costs for a firearms maker.

Sam1911
January 8, 2012, 12:37 AM
I don't wanna ask yet another question but what makes surplus weapons cheaper? Is it because they just have newer items so the old stock becomes something they want to get rid of?

You got it! Sunk cost in something that really isn't needed for anything anymore.

The Soviet Union set up their factories to make things like Mosin Nagant rifles, SKS carbines, and AK-47s/AKMs/AK-74s, (along with heavier stuff) and simply go, go, GO. They made millions and millions, and sent them to every corner of their union, and to all their outlying puppet states -- and then sent the technology, including whole factories to those places as well, and told them go, go, GO!

The eastern bloc was very long on mass production and rugged reliability (with weapons at least) but very short on efficiency and inventory control.

If you get the chance, read C.J. Chivers' The Gun (http://www.amazon.com/Gun-C-J-Chivers/dp/0743270762/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1325997511&sr=8-1). Tons of great info in there about this stuff. I don't have the book right to hand at the moment, but he cites one of the ex-eastern bloc countries (Bulgaria I think. Maybe it was Romania.) as conducting an inventory during the last decade to try and figure out how much of their military gear was still sitting around and hadn't been stolen and/or sold on the black market. At the time, even with all the losses, they had on hand one hundred AKMs for every single soldier in their army. :scrutiny: :what: Wow.

And that's just one type of weapon owned by one small satellite state of an enormous empire which produced enormous quantities of a bunch of different weapons. They literally filled up bunkers with cases of rifles, then closed the door and started filling up the next bunker, and so on.

The Soviets were the kings of this, of course, but the world is also full of Enfields, Mausers (of many makes), older surplussed US M1s, M1903s, M1917s, M1 Carbines, M14s (not so many...short service life and no one else really wanted them), Carcanos, French Mas rifles, Swiss K-31s, and newer stuff, too. All left over from the last war, or the one before that, or the one before that, or the ones folks expected but which never came.

Since there are "enough" military rifles in the world for every single soldier the world over to have more than he could possibly carry, the demand becomes low for anything that isn't the latest and the greatest. When the prime buyers don't want something, anyone who might can pick it up pretty cheap.

Shadow 7D
January 8, 2012, 12:46 AM
Surplus = unwanted inventory past experation date (kinda)
basically, it's used, they are trying to get top dollar (on huge lots) for used stuff, even if it's brand new still in the factory cosmo, much like a car, once off the lot, its lost a lot of value

AND
While the government or police department wants TOP dollar (on those $18 M16 and $12?? 1911's) realize that they do bulk orders from the MANUFACTURERS (hence cutting out the distributes and saving their cut) at a price we will never see. They actually can make money after you take into depreciation by selling their surplus.

Sobel
January 8, 2012, 02:18 AM
You guys really know your stuff, after getting legit answers like this I remember why I joined this site. Thank you and I will try to find that book. Much appreciated you guys.

billdeserthills
January 8, 2012, 03:06 AM
Wow and they charge 400+ thats a nice profit margin.
Glock charges much less for large orders of their guns

barnetmill
January 8, 2012, 07:12 PM
A friend that is a gunsmith and machinist designed and built a rear-locking lug bolt action sniper rifle for about $50,000 he said at his shop for a customer-partner. The prototype was very nice, but as a representative of Ukrainian ministry of defense (their intended customer), asked why did you make it in 7.62x54 and not .308? Nice rifle that while it worked, was not a practical venture.

leadcounsel
January 8, 2012, 07:16 PM
Making and selling guns is probably an incredibly expensive endeavor due to the legal red tape, R&D, and some advertising. The profit margins are also likely quite thin.

Let's not forget the reserve $ need for recalls and lawsuits.

Cluster Bomb
January 8, 2012, 07:34 PM
last i knew if you wanted a custom made Colt SAA clone made, it will cost you close to 2K.

by custom i mean. have it made from a block of steel to a gun.

so quit ya bitchen on a $600 gun ;) jk

barnetmill
January 8, 2012, 11:54 PM
last i knew if you wanted a custom made Colt SAA clone made, it will cost you close to 2K.

by custom i mean. have it made from a block of steel to a gun.
It would have to be a lot more than 2 K to do that if you started from a block of steel and you had to set up your computer programs, fixtures, and the other things that are needed.

Cluster Bomb
January 9, 2012, 10:10 PM
i was referring to paying someone who is set up to do this rather than buying from a brand name. There are only a handful of qualified people who do this.

its probably 100k+ for the machine to cut the parts, etc. not counting paying for training on that machine or hiring someone who's experienced.

Not counting knowing what you are doing to put all said parts together and making them work.

Not counting the fees and paperwork, certifications and licensing involved in this with the gov.

simonm2211
January 9, 2012, 10:35 PM
With such slim margins, imagine how difficult it is to make good decisions to grow these businesses profitably (Eg. launching new products, setting prices based on predicted volume, investing in marketing or customer service). One of the primary assets of any company is brand equity; basically the reputation of the company and its products that have been built up over many years. It is something that all of us at The High Road would do well to take into consideration the next time we criticise any manufacturer on this site. For sure some criticism is well-deserved, but negative reviews on a heavily read site like this can influence a lot of buyers and affect the livelihood of many people in what is one of the few diverse manufacturing industries left in the country.

goon
January 9, 2012, 11:54 PM
One thing I've noticed is that manufacturers seem to keep coming back around to the same ideas if you watch long enough.
For example, the Taurus Judge is not a new idea. Handguns that fire the .410/.45LC combo go back to the T/C Contender and there was a five shot .410/.45 revolver called the Thunder Five made in the mid-1990's. All Taurus did was recycle an idea that they thought might work.
Also, a lot of Kel-Tec designs bear a strong resemblence to some of Grendel's stuff from back in the day.
Seems companies often just look for ways to improve something that already sold once or re-introduce an old idea to a younger market.

One thing I do like is the wide variety of concealment size handguns available these days. Kel-Tec, Ruger, and others are making decent concealable defensive handguns that most anyone can afford. I don't know who came up with that idea, but I really like it.

NG VI
January 10, 2012, 12:15 AM
George Kelgren is the founder of Kel-Tec, and the inventor of the Grendel pistols.

There's a reason they seem so similar. Kel-Tec is producing improved versions of the owners' previous creations, while Ruger is producing clones of Kel-Tec weapons.

goon
January 10, 2012, 01:35 AM
Yep, I knew about the Kel-Tec/Grendel connection. Doesn't really change that they're re-using some older designs. But that doesn't matter because they're decent designs and they make them at a price that most anyone can afford.
As for Ruger latching onto the designs, I don't have a huge problem with it. Everyone is making AR-15's and 1911's these days and no one is complaining that only Colt should be able to. Personally, I am thinking about an LCP for a small carry gun but I know the P-32 is a decent little gun and in a more controllable caliber so I might go that route. And the LCR is all Ruger - they're still doing some of their own work and it won't be long before someone else copies Ruger's innovation of using polymer in a revolver.
Copying and improving good ideas happens in the firearms industry. It is what it is.

FIVETWOSEVEN
January 10, 2012, 07:31 PM
Just make it a revolver, chamber it in .45 LC and .410 shotshells and BAM! Instant hot seller.

PT92
January 10, 2012, 09:01 PM
Just make it a revolver, chamber it in .45 LC and .410 shotshells and BAM! Instant hot seller.

Add .45ACP and bingo (seriously, I like both the Judge and Governor:what:).

-Cheers

Ragnar Danneskjold
January 10, 2012, 11:53 PM
Never forget that the price of sale is the agrees upon price between buyer and seller.

Guns cost hundreds of dollars because we're willing to pay that much. That's how capitalism works.

Justin
January 11, 2012, 01:46 AM
Just make it a revolver, chamber it in .45 LC and .410 shotshells and BAM! Instant hot seller.

Only after investing a significant amount of money in the marketing materials to convince credulous people that your gun is the be-all end-all do-all handgun.

JohnBT
January 11, 2012, 10:54 AM
Does the "cost to create" only include the development, manufacturing and marketing costs or does it include all of the initial recalls, redesigns, upgrades and repairs to make the new design work enough to be consistently popular?

Double Naught Spy
January 11, 2012, 06:51 PM
Only after investing a significant amount of money in the marketing materials to convince credulous people that your gun is the be-all end-all do-all handgun.

And then what happens if it is a flop? Or what happens to all the designs that never make it to production for various reasons. Maybe not gun companies, but several other manufacturing companies have managed to have a singular product or limited product line that was quite popular, but that could not support all the product failures.

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