There are many things to consider when developing a product and entering the industry of plastic manufacturing in the United States. The world is a lot smaller place than it used to be, and there are many more options available to product developers today than there were in the past.
With the advancement of technology, which is becoming faster with each passing day, product developers must decide not only the best process to produce their product, but on which continent.
The lure of low cost labor and lofty promises of quality draws many people overseas, but pitfalls await those without the experience and resources to be hands-on with such ventures. Many stories have been told of product owners stuck with shipments of bad parts and molds being held for ransom, or not available at all. This often requires the product owner to abandon the tooling and start over somewhere else.
Benefit #1. – Domestically made molds are yours, no questions asked.
Other than a few domestic prototyping and low production manufacturers that produce mold inserts that remain their property, toolmakers in America do not claim ownership of the molds they produce. If your account is in good standing with your molder, you can take possession of your mold or have it moved to another facility without any trouble.
Benefit #2.- Quality
While there are good quality plastic molders overseas, the ratio of good to bad is far less favorable than in the domestic industry. Again, it is a matter of having the experience and resources to find the good ones if your molding overseas. The US molding standards set by the Society of Plastics Industry (SPI) have leveled the playing field for mold builders and mold buyers alike, insuring quality workmanship. Having a quality mold is the most crucial factor when it comes to plastic manufacturing in the United States. In addition, the products produced out of that mold are met with more rigorous inspection than is typically found overseas.
Benefit #3 – The price difference is shrinking
Most plastics are made from natural gas, and according to the American Chemistry council the U.S. remains the lowest cost ethylene producer after the Middle East and Canada. A major component of a lot of plastics. At the same time, China has a growing middle class that are beginning to enjoy the fruits of capitalism and are no longer satisfied with $1 an hour. This obviously increases labor costs for the world’s leading exporter.
Benefit #4 – Advancing Technology
As mentioned earlier, technology is advancing fast, faster than anyone alive has experienced. This advancement is largely driven by American ingenuity and the free market principles that made America the superpower of the world. And while there are certainly improvements in technology made all over the world, most foreign manufacturers are using American ingenuity in their processes. Being first in line for these advancements such as automation, 3D printing, and new materials give product developers the benefit of better methods of plastic manufacturing in the United States. These advancements also tie into benefit #3, a reduction in cost.
In summary, it would appear that as plastic manufacturing in the United States evolves, the benefit grows when considering total cost of ownership, quality, and the ease of accountability afforded those that stay on this side of the pond.