Primarily for financial reasons, many companies choose to start off manufacturing their silicone product overseas. Overseas manufacturers can offer attractive start-up mold pricing but once a company has established a market for their product and demand increases, they often realize the benefits of doing business in the USA. Some of the advantages of USA suppliers include:
- Preserved intellectual property
- Ease of communication
- Shorter lead times and reduced shipping costs
- Lot traceability
- Consistent high quality
- Attractive Comparable Part Pricing
- Newer technology and materials
- Premium positioning with retailers
- Consumer preference for USA made goods (both USA and overseas consumers)
If you find yourself ready to make the move to USA supply from overseas, here are a few considerations to keep in mind during the process:
Approaching Your Product
Overseas manufacturers do not always require CAD drawings to start producing, but USA suppliers require CAD drawings of your current product. If you started out manufacturing overseas you may not have these but you can hire a CAD designer to reverse engineer your current product and produce the required drawing quite easily. Preferred file formats for suppliers are .STP or .IGS. These drawings will help ensure your product is the best possible quality, allowing the model to be magnifying and rotated to get a fully three dimensional understanding of your product. Without a CAD part drawing a mold cannot be quoted and built by your USA manufacturer so this is a key stage in reshoring your manufacturing.
Knowing Your Product
To ensure you get the best product possible, it’s also helpful for your manufacturer to get as much information on the current material, mold and process as they can from you (and your previous molder). Because this can be can be tricky to obtain after the fact it is best to get as much of this information as possible in the early stages of doing business with any supplier, domestic or overseas, in case you need it in the future.
If you have been using a molder overseas it is very likely that they are doing Transfer (or Press) Molding with High Consistency Rubber (HCR) silicone rather than Injection Molding with Liquid Silicone Rubber (LSR).
Overseas molders have lower labor costs making the more manual process of Transfer Molding practical. Often customers will tell us that they see a lot of variability in color and hardness of silicone products made overseas. HCR is a form of silicone that is mixed at the molder allowing for a variable amount of extension fillers and pigments to be incorporated which produces inconsistencies from batch to batch. The good news is LSR silicone comes in a moldable form from the materials supplier with a Certificate of Compliance by batch. LSR produces very consistent products. So, while your overseas mold is probably not usable at USA molders, USA manufacturers can produce a high quality and more consistent product using LSR.
With USA silicone manufacturing you should prepare to pay more than overseas molds. You get what you pay for with molding, because LSR injection molding is a more automated complicated process than transfer molding it more sophisticated mold designs. The upshot of this is, USA mold makers build extremely high-quality molds that are made to last the lifetime of your product. It is not uncommon for a USA built mold to last more than 10 years and produce more than 10 million parts with minimal maintenance.
USA molders will likely ask you lots of questions about your product requirements and generate Product Specification drawings requiring your sign off. This process is to ensure precision and consistency. Your products molded in the USA will be compared to these specifications on a frequency basis determined to be suitable using Six Sigma methodology. Lot traceability paperwork will be completed and retained with each injection molding run which will be available should any quality issues occur in the market.
The typical time line to transition your product from overseas manufacture to USA manufacture is 4-6 months including mold build but the advantages of reshoring your product are going to span a lengthy timeframe.
At Extreme Molding, we take joy from creating molds last the lifetime of your product while streamlining our processes to ensure consistency.
You can read more testimonials from companies we are proud to work with here. For more information on our liquid silicone capabilities get in touch. Our managers have over 60+ years of combined business experience and our team are experts in manufacturing.