Jade Molds

The most common problems with buying injection molds from China—and how to avoid them

#1: Your final price is much higher than your quoted price

There are a few common reasons for a price variance, and some or all may be at play in your situation.

The top reason is that R&D costs are not calculated in the initial mold quote. (Sometimes this is referred to as NRE: non-recurring engineering costs.)

Development, prototypes, and testing all cost money, and if it’s not spelled out in your quote, you’re probably going to be paying for it later—at rates you didn’t get to discuss beforehand.

Another reason for a higher final price is the vendor’s unreliable materials supply chain.

Suppliers aren’t always paid in full or on time in China, which means inconsistent sourcing and pricing as some vendors shop around to see who’ll take their order. You pay for this unreliable system with higher prices.

A different reason is…payola. Many brokers are paid exorbitant fees by mold makers in China to get your business. And that money’s gotta come from somewhere.

And last, for some less ethical vendors, the low initial price is simply the hook to get your business and nothing more. They always expect to go over—even though they may not tell YOU that.

How to avoid price creep

Choose a partner who discusses R&D up-front. Bonus points for a partner who reviews your design at the quote stage and points out potential problems or opportunities for improvement.

We’re still surprised when a new client tells us we were the only bidder to point out potential design flaws or discuss R&D efforts.

Click here to get a quote for your next mold and see what we mean.

It’s the Midwesterner in us. We can’t help but speak plainly and clearly in an effort to do a good job.

Also, ask about supplier relationships. If your new partner says they can get supplies at the price and speed they want from just about any supplier, be wary.

We have long-term relationships with top-quality suppliers in China who know our expectations. And because we pay on time, every time, our suppliers treat us like royalty. Which means our customers get consistent pricing and quality every single day of the year.

If you’re working with a broker or middleman, understand where his or her motivation lies. If their biggest payoff is from the mold maker, then you’ll get the vendor that’s best for the middleman, not the one that’s best for you.

Last, if the price sounds too good to be true…it probably is.

#2: You get the answer your vendor thinks you want instead of reality.

A cultural norm in China and other Asian countries is to tell you what you want to hear, even if it’s wrong.

An example is asking for directions—even if the person doesn’t know how to get where you’re going, he will give you an answer. It’s the socially acceptable thing to do.

This cultural norm works the same way in business. If you say you need the injection mold by a specific date, you’ll get hearty agreement.

Yet when the date comes and goes with no injection mold, you’ll quickly realize you’ve been told what you wanted to hear instead of what you needed to hear to make smart business decisions.

How to avoid cultural misunderstandings

A language translator is not always adept at translating cultural differences. It’s a different skillset, and it often requires an immersive experience in both cultures.

Rely on a partner who understands and accepts your requirements AND knows how to make sure you get them in China. You should know without a doubt your partner is on your side and willing to go to bat for you.

We’ve been building injection molds in China since 2006. Our president, Patrick Smith, lives full time in China and oversees the day-to-day operations of our factory.

Add this to our 150+ years of combined US engineering experience, deep understanding of Western business practices, and compliance to US production standards, and you can see why our clients never get caught in an expensive or frustrating cultural misunderstanding.

#3: Inconsistent lifespan of your injection molds

Will your mold make 50,000 pieces or 1,000,000? It’s hard to know, given the lack of standardization in China. You may see a drastic difference in the lifespan of two different molds made by the same mold maker.

The lack of standards applies to materials, too. Even if you get a stamped certificate of authenticity, you may not know your material was substandard until it fails.

Unclear communication between you and the team designing or building your mold also affects the lifespan. Is something getting lost in translation?

Turnover on the factory floor of most injection mold makers is fairly high. You may not notice this because the front office staff stays the same. But you will notice inconsistency in your mold quality and lifespan.

How to improve the lifespan of your molds

Find a vendor who is trained in US mold-building standards and adheres to them for every single mold—not just when requested by a client.

Quality doesn’t come from an occasional effort. Quality comes from consistent effort, day in and day out.

If you can’t speak directly to your engineer, then there are gaps in your communication. How could there not be?

Jade Molds employs talented technicians in China and we have one of the highest retention rates in the industry. Our technicians tell us working here is the easiest job they’ve ever had—because of our consistent processes, we do it right the first time instead of “grinding it out” to resolve mistakes at the end.

Our US engineers have a combined 150+ years of experience, and you can speak directly to them with no middleman.

Want to talk to an engineer about your next mold? Click here for two easy options to get the help you need.

And as we said in problem #1, our consistent relationships with top suppliers means you never have to worry about substandard materials or substitutions.

#4: Poor performance of your injection molds

This is the real test, isn’t it? You start using your injection mold and get a variety of problems.

Flashing, burning, short shots, warping, weld lines and similar production defects mean your injection mold is wasting valuable resources and costing you money and time on the production floor.

Your “bargain” mold just became a whole lot more expensive.

This happens because design problems were overlooked in the planning stage and those problems got built into the mold.

How to improve the performance of your mold

Require Moldex3D simulations for your molds.

This software is expensive and takes skill to run, and many mold makers simply don’t have the resources in-house to do it. You pay the price for this oversight with a shorter mold lifespan.

Jade’s engineers are certified Moldex3D technicians. Our expertise with this technology as well as our detailed planning and design processes mean your mold works exactly as planned on your production floor.

#5: You may not be able to move your tooling if you change vendors.

Unlike in the US, even with a contract there is no guarantee that you as the paying customer will own your tooling. And even if you can move it, your new vendor might refuse to use it.

(Though if you’re changing vendors because of a poor mold performance, you may not want your tooling.)

This issue is similar to problem #2 in that it boils down to cultural and business practice differences between countries.

In China, there is also no guarantee your tooling won’t be used to duplicate your product and sell it in another market—or even your own.

How to protect your assets in China

You have to trust the integrity of the company you’ve chosen. Are you confident they’ll adhere to your contract terms? Protect your intellectual property?

As an American company, Jade Molds operates on American business principles. We often surprise potential new customers by offering a signed boilerplate NDA agreement during our first conversation.

We want our customers to know we take intellectual property and contracts seriously.

If your vendor gives little importance to NDAs, contracts, or privacy, your assets are not secure. And if you don’t know how they’d act if you chose to take your business elsewhere, then take your business elsewhere.

Your Next Step

If you’re experiencing any of the problems above, know you’re not alone.

Also know you have options.

Option 1

You can attempt to solve the problems with your vendor using the suggestions above.

Now that you better understand why these problems are happening, you’re a whole lot closer to resolving them.

Option 2

You start looking for a better partner.

You can start by talking with us about your next mold or your overall mold needs in a friendly phone call. Call us now at 888-549-6014.

Or you can jump right into it by asking us to quote on our next mold.

Either way, you owe it to yourself to test what it’s like to get a mold at China prices with American service and quality.