Questions to ask a blow molder

What does getting the best deal mean to you? For most purchasing managers, the best deal is getting the highest quality goods and services for the lowest price. And that means shopping around. Knowing which questions to ask potential suppliers will save you both time and trouble.

If you are in the market for a blow molding supplier, here are 11 questions you need to ask them:

  1. Which blow molding processes do you offer?
    Every product design has slightly different economics, depending on the number of units you expect to sell and the size of the product itself. Your supplier should give you a few options that detail the costs associated with different batch sizes. And if they can’t meet your needs, a good supplier will help refer you to someone who can.
  2. What are your molding machine sizes?
    Blow molding machine sizes are based on the weight of your plastic product. The cost of designing a mold and your expected production volume will both factor into the correct machine size for your particular application. Some suppliers specialize in products of a particular size. Learn more about the Blow Molding variables you’ll cover with a supplier.
  3. How many blow molding machines do you have that fit my product?
    This one’s kind of a trick question. Most purchasing managers will ask how many machines a supplier has in their company, but what matters more is whether they have a machine that fits your product and produces it economically. So instead, ask, “How many blow molding machines do you have that fit my product?” If the supplier doesn’t have a machine that fits your needs, look elsewhere.
  4. What support functions do you provide for your blow molding operation?
    You may be able to make do with a supplier that only does the blow molding, but sometimes you’ll need more support. For example, a product design team can help you meet your functional expectation, a materials team can help keep resin costs down, and a distribution facility can help assemble, pack, store, and deliver finished products to save you time and money. Take a look at our Blow Molding Design Guide to help you get started.
  5. Have you made a product like the one we want to produce before?
    There are lots of common shapes that require standard molds and processes. If your product fits into that description, your cost and turnaround time should be lower than a custom job. If your needs are one-of-a-kind, work with a supplier that has product design and prototyping capabilities. Here’s what a standard blow mold spec sheet should look like.
  6. Is your quality system audited and registered to an ISO (or similar) quality standard?
    Quality is important. You have expectations for your suppliers, and understanding the quality standard they have will help you determine if they will live up to those expectations. For example, Custom-Pak is registered to the ISO 9001:2015 quality standard.
  7. Can you integrate your blow molded parts into products made with other processes?
    Not all projects can be done completely by blow molding. In fact, a blow molded piece may just be one small part of the puzzle. Using a supplier that can assemble the entire project on-site will save your company money.
  8. What’s your turnaround time?
    The more time it takes to manufacture your parts, the more it costs you.  But, short turnaround times can also be a red flag.  Reasonable design and production times are required to meet quality standards and to ensure the availability of the correct processing equipment and materials. Reducing turnaround time often comes at the expense of quality.  Don’t forget the time it takes to ship from low cost regions. Sometimes this can dramatically increase your overall turnaround time on a product.  Instead of asking how long until they can ship, it is better to ask about their on-time delivery performance.
  9. How do you keep your employees happy and engaged in their work?
    Happy, engaged employees are dedicated to their jobs and will work hard to make sure your expectations are met. Companies with strong profit sharing programs tend to have engaged workers. Beyond that, getting a sense of a potential supplier’s culture can help you decide if they will be a good fit for you.
  10. Is your company growing and financially stable?
    A growing and financially stable company will have the resources to get the job done right. Ideally, you want a long term relationship with your supplier. This provides a better return on your investment and gives you access to their expertise when it comes time to design your next blow molded product or feature.
  11. Are you green?
    Being eco-friendly isn’t just trendy, it can be great for the bottom line, too. Utilizing recycled materials and being energy efficient are two ways that blow molding plants can drive down their costs and deliver savings to their customers.

Click here to learn more about how blow molding can help you create quality, cost-effective products.