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China to the rescue

China to the rescue

China to the rescue

After getting ridiculous expensive quotes from US tool makers ($+25K) we started to look for chinese makers. Just few email exchanges with several of them, and we decided for a company in Dongguan, Guangdong. They wasn't the cheapest but they sounded the most professional. Three weeks after 50% down payment ( via paypal) we got the samples via fedex with a quality that does meet our requirement.

We would have preferred an america tool maker but there is no way to justify such prices (other than owner's house mortgage). I would like to read your comments.

Here are the final number from the Chinese tool maker:

Tooling cost: $2200
Lead-time tooling: 3 weeks
Cavity Material: Steel
Warranted expected life: 500 000 cycles (warranted means they will replace the tool for free)
Setup fee: $0.00
Storage fee: $10/year
Cost/part (10K run): $0.39 FOB
Lead-time for parts: 3 weeks

RE: China to the rescue

Without knowing the part size and complexity, $25K is not necessarily ridiculously expensive for state-side tooling in this day and age. But yes, it is normal for China to be at 10 to 25% of domestic tooling cost. Molds that are imported to the US for local production will have significant tariffs and fees imposed.

We are in the same situation, where several projects simply would not have happened without outsourcing. Over the years, it would have cost us an additional 1 to 1.5 million to keep everything domestic, although very critical parts are still done here where we have expedient access to the vendor. I find it curious that you are being charged storage, have never encountered that before. I have found that it is common to be charged setup if your batch volume is less than x pieces.

China is most certainly a contender, and a driving force for North America and Europe to stay sharp and on the cutting edge. There is no resting on our laurels, any longer. I still have to deal with the "Chinese junk" stigma, even from within our organization, but anyone who still clings to this ideology has either had a single bad experience or has simply not dealt with it first hand.

It is my opinion that the desire to support ones own country is noble and admirable, but it is not always possible. Our greatest driver for innovation, technology, and advancement is competition. Rote assignment of every project to domestic firms in the name or "Murica" would quickly kill the very attitude that has made us one of the top innovators. Entitlement culture, differentiated from patriotism and loyalty, is a very dangerous thing.

It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.

RE: China to the rescue

We have had no end to problems sourcing parts from "low cost opportunity" countries. While the tooling and piece prices are normally very attractive and occasionally the first piece samples of acceptable quality, you will have to watch them like a hawk on every shipment. We have had them change materials with out notification, change or skip critical processes, etc. Given the long shipping times for sea or high costs for air, it makes for a very difficult supply chain. We have even had to change the dimensions of mating parts to salvage the latest shipment of "low cost" parts. We had one supplier tell us they threw away our tooling because we had not ordered for a few months. Took 3 tries and many months for the next "low cost" supplier to meet the drawing.

We maintain an office in Hong Kong that is supposed to visit and vet theses vendors before we use them but they seem more of an impediment than a benefit. Many companies when the look at the total cost find that they can re-shore production without increasing cost. Unfortunately, our company does not account for the high cost of multiple failed PPAP submissions, rework, inspection, long delivery times, etc.

I think large companies with engineers on site at foreign production sites can achieve low costs and good quality but smaller companies run much higher risks.


The Help for this program was created in Windows Help format, which depends on a feature that isn't included in this version of Windows.

RE: China to the rescue

A lot of hidden costs associated with using a "low cost region" supplier.

I came across this article and thought it might help with supplier selection for blow molding, but I think the guidelines hold true for other plastic manufacturing technologies as well:


Hope that helps. Sorry to hear you had a bad experience with a supplier. That is never fun.

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