OEMs are constantly striving to find new efficiencies in the manufacturing process. Wherever possible, you want to make your manufacturing:
- More innovative
- More cost-effective
Partnering with a materials converter can help you do all of the above while improving the quality of your products.
The basics of materials converting
Converters combine and modify raw materials to create parts and products. Materials like plastics, adhesives, foams, fabrics, and meshes can be cut, laminated, and modified to create gaskets, shielding, and more.
Material converters are invaluable to OEMs, as they can cut and combine materials into unique shapes to fit seamlessly into new products.
What material converters can do
The capacities of a material converter depend heavily on its machinery and engineers. At General Label, we can process materials in a number of ways and with a number of tools, including:
- Flatbed Laser-cutting
- Rotary Laser Cutting
- Rotary die-cutting
- Soft-tooling (tangent knife systems)
- Flat bed lasers
- Rotary lasers
- Rotary die cutters
- And more
- And more
By combining these processes and tools, we can create a vast array of different parts specifically designed for your products. Additionally, we can lower your manufacturing costs by offering innovative converting solutions. We can, for example, soft tool to reduce NRE costs and allow for faster changes to prototypes.
The benefits of outsourcing to a materials converter
Lower manufacturing costs
In-house materials converting can be costly. Without the correct equipment and processes your prototypes may not be manufacturable. General Label is here to aid in design from prototyping to scalable manufacturing.
The greatest cost, however, is in finding highly qualified materials engineers to perform the work. Designing parts with demanding tolerances isn’t easy. An engineer with experience in materials converting will know what materials to use and which processes they should undergo to create the perfect part. That experience takes years to build—and the people with that experience are expensive to hire.
Essentially, you’re taking advantage of the economy of scale when you outsource to General Label. We already have the capacity, the machinery, and the expertise needed for materials converting—no need to start from square one. We do converting for multiple companies, which means we get materials for less from suppliers—and we have a greater capacity for quick-turn prototypes and for ramping up manufacturing to scale.
Outsourcing to a materials converter allows you to focus on your core competencies. While you work on designing the core of your product, we’ll work on creating the parts you need to fully realize your final design. From waterproofing to EMI shielding and more, we’ll ensure that your product is ready to go to market sooner than if you were doing materials converting in-house.
Improved product quality
A good materials converter can improve the quality of your end product, increasing its durability and functionality through the innovative use of materials. The skill and creativity brought to the table by experienced materials-converting engineers lead to innovative parts that offer unique value to your end product.
The design process is inherently iterative—things change rapidly. A prototype that served your needs yesterday might not fit today’s newly conceived design. With rapid prototyping capacities, an excellent materials converter can create new parts as quickly as your team adjusts the design of your new product.
This quick-turn prototyping should be coupled with the ability to rapidly transition to full-scale manufacturing, and General Label has the capacity to manufacture parts to scale quickly.
Fewer resource constraints
Materials converters like General Label have access to both the suppliers and the machinery needed to create custom parts. In a world plagued by supply chain issues, having a converter with close relationships to suppliers like 3M on your side is a boon.
Our company is well-stocked with a variety of materials, including:
- And more
Questions to ask a potential materials-converting partner
Now that you know the advantages of working with a material converter, we hope you’re chomping at the bit to find a good one. Here are a few questions you should ask a would-be partner:
- How much experience do you have?
- Do you provide design and materials consultation?
- How quickly can you deliver prototypes/testing?
- How quickly can you manufacture a typical part? What’s your capacity?
- What materials do you offer?
- What’s your relationship with suppliers? Are you a preferred converter with any of the materials manufacturers you work with?
- What references do you have? Ask for case studies, testimonials, examples of work they’ve done before, etc.
Here are a couple of examples of how General Label provides forward thinking solutions to design and manufacturing challenges:
The Challenge: A client who manufactures industrial trailers faces an interesting challenge: they must seal and prevent water intrusion around the trailer fasteners. They begin to use 3M Extreme Sealing Tape to seal the fasteners. The 3M tape works – but the client must convert it to fit the fasteners by hand. The cost? Countless hours of labor.
The General Label Solution: Our extensive background and knowledge of sealant and tape products gave our engineers an idea: converting the Extreme Sealing Tape to size in our facilities. With a production level laser, we were able to convert the tape to precise 2” and 3” circles – perfectly covering the fasteners.
The Results: The precision laser cut parts saved our client a staggering number of labor hours. (There were 126 fasteners per trailer – on 150 trailers! Imagine cutting tape for those by hand). The time and labor savings more than justified the price of converted parts. The workers were able to quickly apply the perfectly cut fasteners to each trailer. A supervisor said: “They worked great; so much easier than cutting them all! Plus, the precise cut parts are much more aesthetically pleasing on our trailers!”
Cut the Scrap
The Challenge: We’d provided a watertight VHB Gasket for the client that they’d used for some time. Unfortunately, the large footprint of the gasket had significant scrap, inflating costs. The client wanted a way to cut costs while using the same gasket.
The General Label Solution: One limitation to our watertight gaskets is that the VHB is placed over the entire perimeter of the gasket, increasing the gasket’s footprint. To cut scrap, we created a solution allowing customers to utilize the drop (inside of perimeter) of the gasket. Customers are already paying the full price of the material so the only added cost is the laser time to process interior cuts.
The Results: The client was able to continue ordering their large watertight gasket while also utilizing the drop of the gasket. This allowed the client to claim many more parts for only a small cost increase, cutting scrap and increasing the number of usable parts for the client.
Leverage our converting skills to your advantage
General Label has decades of experience in material converting. We pride ourselves on cutting-edge, creative converting solutions. Call us today to learn what we can do for you.