Kavia Moulded Products is working with Loughborough Product Design student Guy Newsom on his ‘clipa’ project. Guy asked us to illustrate the differences between a UK and China injection mould tool project. Kavia Business Development Manager Iain Hill used his 8 years experience of managing China tool projects and compared it with a typical Kavia UK injection mould tool project and has highlighted comments on key stages by the project plan line item.
Line 3 vs. 10 – tool design
The China process can produce a quick first revision of tool design but this is never right, you will need UK resource to review and instruct corrections that go back and forth.
Line 4 vs. 11 – tool manufacture
During the tool design process a China toolmaker is trying to get approval to order steel, as it is typical their tool manufacture lead-time does not include getting steels into stock. You have to carefully check steel specifications on China tools, get certificates of conformity and double check hardness. UK toolmakers will have steel into stock in 1 week included in their manufacturing lead-time. You also need to check all pipe fittings and ejector pin gauges as these will be different from European standard sizing and will be costly to maintain later. For hot runner systems ensure the warranty and support is effective in UK.
Line 5 vs. 12/13 – T1, sample review and instructions
Here you can see the UK can sample ahead of China, of course you can just drive and visit tool progress and the T1 test and agree instructions same day in UK. The China sample is 4 days post away and instructions will take longer to execute. If you send 1 person to China to supervise this will cost at least £4,000 and is a cost a buyer does not like to show. Component sample conditions are also difficult to discern from China and having the correct material is an additional expense.
Line 6 vs. 14 – Corrections for production approval
You can expect 30-40% of drawing dimensional tolerances to be in error on a plastic component has had a uniform shrinkage applied so corrections are always required. A minimum of two more sampling runs would be required and final tool polish, textures and marking applied. China will be slower due nearly an extra 2 weeks it takes to post samples over.
Line 16 – UK commission and production approval
Once the China tools arrive in the UK they have to be commissioned and sampled under production conditions and this may cause more corrections.
The principal reason companies still source in China was capital cost of tooling and time, the cost margin is narrowing but still a difference, timing is faster in UK. Kavia has costed a number of projects recently and found UK manufacturing is now competitive against China and companies that calculate the costs of start of production are concluding UK sourced projects are more effective.