Sourcing Plastic injection molds from China 101, Part 1: characteristics of tooling companies from China

Are you trying to find a plastic injection mold manufacturer in China who is well-suited to your needs and can also deliver on their promises?And if you are new to sourcing from China, the first thing you should do is to overview the internal characteristics of tooling companies for better understanding and support of proposed business models. Here are the questions you should ask before asking quote from a tooling shop in China.

Is the tooling shops foreign invested or Taiwan/HK Invested or Private ?

This is an important question as the type of the company may impact your mold cost greatly. In general, there are 3 types of mold companies and each has their advantage and disadvantages.

A. Starting from 1990s, many US and European plastic tooling companies started building their own facility in China according to their industry standard. In early stage, larger plastic factories were mostly founded by entrepreneurs from Western countries. In terms of capital, technology, management, quality control system, human resources and sales, these plastic making companies have obvious advantage over the smaller ones.  The larger factories employ hundreds of workers. They have most advanced molding, production, finance and marketing departments.

These foreign invested companies also have their dedicated sales or marketing departments and usually most of them have been focused in local big clients using the advantage of proximity.  Of course companies that are used to clients all over the world are more prepared to work in a global market. They know how to export their goods, promote their businesses abroad and acquire orders overseas, dealing with different languages and different mentalities or trading practices. For these companies, tooling cost will be much more expensive. If quality is priority and your have enough budget for your project, you could consider using the foreign invested tooling companies.

B. Hong Kong and Taiwan’s plastic molding factories started moving to the mainland in 1980s. Pearl River Delta was a favorite location because of common language and culture. At that time, businesses relied on machining plastic molds and molding on client’s supplied design, assembling plastic parts provided by clients . During the early 1990s,molding manufacturers increased their investment in mainland and built bigger factories which also incorporated offices and quarters for workers. With larger production facilities and the increase in mainland workers’ technical ability, the factories’ auxiliary support also moved to the mainland. These tooling shops are not as advanced and organized as foreign companies, but their quality control and standard management system are much better than the local mold manufacturers as they have over years of experience working as OEM for foreign companies. Therefore, the quality from these companies could be guaranteed. Mold price ranges between foreign-invested companies and local private companies.

c. Private tooling Companies are usually small family owned companies, having from 10-100 employees. This manageable size allows the tool-makers to maintain a close supervision and a visual control on a complex manufacturing process and to react fast on engineering changes and unpredictable events characteristics of the one-of-a-king production. In fact, flexibility has been one of the targets of plastic industry, mainly

achieved through flat hierarchies and the permanent presence of the decision maker (usually the owner of the company) and through adaptable computer assisted technologies. Normally the owners of companies in tool and mould making are former technicians, who founded their own company to use to advantage the “boom era” of plastic products. On the other hand, their management and quality control level is not that organized. Mold design capacity, machining accuracy, mold life and reliability may fail to meet big client’s demand.  One of the biggest advantage must be pointed out is that their price is much more competitive comparing with other types of tooling companies.

>> Move on to the next post in this series. Read it here: Sourcing plastic molds from China 101, Part 2: Are the mould manufacturers located in the area where quality is better?   

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