Plastic Injection Molders:
Are In-House Mold-Making Facilities Important?
This consideration may be a debatable one amongst injection molders and customers alike. Not all injection molders have tool making capabilities. In fact, it is estimated that many more molders don't make tools than do. This is based upon many considerations that may include capital equipment costs, core competency issues, customer preference, and domestic vs. import tooling price comparisons.
The capital necessary to purchase, update, and maintain the latest in tool building machinery is tremendous. These are funds that many injection molders would rather put towards the investment in molding equipment to achieve state-of-the-art efficiencies, which provides lower cost and better quality to their customers and potential customers.
Typically, it is easier to focus on what you do best rather than being everything to everybody. This is an issue of staying with your core competency. Extremely large molding companies may be able to separate their competencies among separate divisions or SBU's (Strategic Business Units). However, the vast majority of the molders in the market have a single management team directing all employees. Therefore it is much more efficient to focus on one service.
The customers themselves may also be a determining factor. Many have already established a comfort level over time with their own tool makers who understand their business as well as quality and cost concerns. Large customers tend to have entire departments that are responsible for evaluating new tool makers and qualifying them.
Domestic tooling versus Import tooling is more of a cost consideration than anything else. If the only consideration is inexpensive tooling, this is where a customer will end up. Quality, reliability, consistency, and timely delivery are all long-term considerations that have to be carefully evaluated before committing to an offshore tool maker.
In the final analysis, an injection molding customer may very well be better off to consider an injection molder for its tooling maintenance, repair, and upkeep shop than for its tool building capabilities. HQC, for example, has four Journeyman Tool Makers on staff during normal business hours and on-call 24/7 for the sole purpose of maintaining, repairing, and getting the customer's tool on-line again as quickly as possible. This allows us to invest in molding equipment, focus only on injection molding, maintain customer owned tooling, and not become part of the domestic vs. import tool issues.
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