How mold makers can efficiently check the quality of work by overseas suppliers

by Arnaud Divialle

In the current economic climate, a significant number of plastic injection molds are now designed and manufactured in China. But as industry professionals will privately reveal, the lower pricing that offshoring provides sometimes comes with a hidden cost: North American molders and mold makers commonly face challenges maintaining quality control over their Chinese suppliers. Many overseas partners exhibit high turnover rates, which can result in molds of varying quality. While some certainly excel, others frequently require multiple design iterations, adding to costs and extending lead times.

To ensure the consistent delivery of molds that meet quality standards, companies implement diverse strategies. Some opt to establish offices in China for direct oversight of employee turnover, skillsets, and training. Others dispatch their experts to China for comprehensive design reviews and tool trials, which helps mitigate the impact of time zone differences and smooths out any cultural nuances in communication.

Yet another seemingly more cost effective approach is to create extensive guidelines and standards for local and overseas partners to follow, as well as exhaustive verification checklists that analysts in North America use to assess the molds delivered by the suppliers. Although it’s labor-intensive, this approach improves the chances that every mold released adheres to a company’s exacting quality requirements. Some highly efficient companies perform these checks daily, taking advantage of time zone differences to ensure overseas suppliers are briefed to make any design adjustments the next workday.

Shifting industry dynamics

But companies are now finding that these best practices may no longer be sufficient. Industry dynamics have shifted: parts and molds have increased in complexity; injection presses have advanced from hydraulic to electric, and now offer more numerical control; chillers are more highly varied; and innovative resin types, including recycled materials, are now being used. All these factors further complicate efforts to efficiently monitor quality control.

To keep up with these evolving conditions, companies are increasingly turning to simulation tools, which can help analysts rapidly assess quality and provide quantifiable feedback to overseas suppliers. But traditional mold flow analysis (MFA) packages often require days to produce results, which renders them unsuitable for the kind of daily checks that companies need to meet the pace of business today.

That’s where SimForm comes in. Its speed and user-friendly features makes it a natural fit for this use case, empowering molders and mold makers to assess tool designs from overseas suppliers on a daily basis. With continuous evaluations of design improvements, companies can ensure changes to injection points or sliders do not compromise part quality or significantly increase costs.

In an era of dynamic industry changes, SimForm has emerged as a valuable ally in maintaining quality and efficiency in modern plastic injection molding processes.

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