What should I consider when deciding on U.S. vs. China mold-making services?
- Can the mold-making service meet your quality standards?
- Does the company have tooling expertise?
- What engineering support do they offer?
- Can they handle the complexity of your design?
- How do they communicate?
- Is travel to and from their facility manageable?
- What are the costs of using their mold-making services?
If your company requires plastic injection molding services to manufacture your plastic products, one of the first things to decide on is where you’ll make your molds — here, in the U.S., or overseas? And when we consider overseas manufacturers, one of the primary players is, of course, China.
Many companies find their options boil down to U.S. vs. China mold-making services. If you are in the same boat, you may be wondering which option will be more efficient and help you create the product you’re envisioning. Here are a few questions you should ask to help you find out which is the best choice for your project:
Can the mold-making service meet your quality standards?
Both countries have the skill, education, and materials to make quality molds. But, in recent decades, an issue called “Quality Fade” has cropped up when dealing with Chinese-based injection mold manufacturers. Quality Fade is when Chinese manufacturers gradually reduce the quality of their products, to slowly increase their profit margins. While not all businesses follow this unscrupulous practice, if you decide to employ a Chinese manufacturer, you run the risk of this happening to you.
On the other hand, U.S. mold manufacturers tend to be more consistent in quality. Most manufacturers like to create your mold designs from high-quality grades of steel, which are durable and have less need for repair or reworking. Plus, these companies tend to have a better understanding of American designs and demands. These qualities combined mean that a U.S. -based mold maker has a better chance at meeting your quality standards consistently, even for long production runs.
Does the company have tooling expertise?
The mold-making services you choose — regardless of where it is based — should be experienced in the types of molds you need to be made. This experience is essential, as their engineers and designers are more likely to know the best practices when it comes to creating your mold.
You should also check if their molds are made in-house, or if the company purchases them from a different manufacturer. In-house services are critical in assuring quality control over tooling and can make necessary adjustments and repairs promptly. If you work with a U.S.-based service, then such mold adjustments will be easier to make.
What engineering support do they offer?
Your company will benefit from engineering support — without it, you could end up misusing a mold, or throwing away a repairable mold without knowing any better. Mold-making companies based in China can offer great engineering support, but vetting these companies may be difficult due to language and cultural barriers. Additionally, these engineers may be trained and certified in different ways, which you may not be familiar with. Finding out about the support and other services that a molding company in the U.S. offers is much easier, as these hurdles are less likely.
Can they handle the complexity of your design?
The more intricate and complicated your products are, the more intricate and complicated your mold will be. You need to confirm whether your prospective partners will be able to handle the designs you require.
Some companies specialize in making simpler molds for mass production. Others may have handled even more complex designs before, thus are more suited to handling this type of mold design. Always ask for portfolios or examples of their finished product so that you can see firsthand what these companies are capable of.
That being said, U.S. mold manufacturers have easier access to high-quality materials and have more strict safety and quality control standards. This allows them to create intricate yet high-quality molds.
How do they communicate?
Language barriers are hard to overcome — it is one of the most common and most influential issues that come with utilizing services from overseas companies. Miscommunication can compromise final product quality.
It is worth noting that translators are needed when working with foreign companies. Otherwise, you may find yourself struggling to have clear and effective communication between you and your Chinese mold maker. Compounding on that is the differences in culture, which includes cultural sensitivities. All in all, these differences increase the risk of communication errors, which is not ideal.
Communication is, of course, much easier when working with a mold maker from your home country. There are fewer cultural differences and no language barrier. Plus, communication can be done much quicker, as time differences aren’t an issue — even if your mold maker is located on the opposite side of the country from you.
Is travel to and from their facility manageable?
Visiting your mold maker’s facility is important — even in the vetting process, you’ll want to know how organized and efficient their production floor is, as this is an indicator of quality. Afterward, you may need to visit their facility one or more times for the duration of your project.
While some companies will be able to send their teams or representatives overseas to do these visits, it is always a lengthy and costly trip. Consider if traveling to and from a Chinese mold maker’s facility is doable for you. Each trip may take up to two weeks to accommodate production, tryouts, sampling, and adjustments to the mold. If not, you may have to shoulder molds that don’t quite meet your specifications.
What are the costs of using their mold-making services?
It’s important to note that U.S. mold-making services aren’t automatically better than Chinese mold-making services — as, in any industry, there are poor and high-quality manufacturers. In general, even for high-quality services, Chinese companies tend to offer more cost-savings for their services upfront.
However, the turnaround times, shipping costs, and unpredictable logistics of having your molds made overseas can rack up unexpectedly. And, as we mentioned earlier, there is also the added cost of traveling to and from their facilities for quality assurance. Thus, Chinese manufacturing often comes with lots of hidden costs.
When debating between U.S. vs China mold-making services, consider these questions. All of the above elements should be in place for you to receive services and molds that meet your standards and allow you to make quality plastic products.
At Richfields, we specialize in mold-making services and have years of experience from our clients all over the world and from various industries. We know that reliable, premium services are what you’re looking for — so if you have any questions about our process, quality control, and additional services, send us a message here. Our team will be happy to answer them and help you create any product you envision.