Wednesday 31 October 2018

5 Tips For Choosing The Optimal Polymer Resin Supplier

5 Tips For Polymer Resin Supplier Selection by Herwig Juster

Today, I will provide you with 5 tips which can support you when selecting a polymer resin supplier. Apart of selecting the optimal material for your product, selecting the optimal resin supplier plays an as important role too. So, let’s get started:

Tip number 1: Broad product portfolio
Look for a resin supplier which has a broad product portfolio and therefore can take a polymer-neutral approach. The supplier should be able to recommend the optimal chemistry to fit the application. With a good recommendation, over or under engineering can be minimized.

Tip number 2: Customer-supplier interaction leads to a solid relationship
The supplier needs to listen to the customer. This is necessary to properly translate the end product’s requirements into the optimal material properties. This includes things such as understanding the type of environment the material will be exposed to, and/or understanding the regulatory requirements for that specific market. By the end, the supplier needs to determine if there is a fit between its products and the customer needs.

Tip number 3: Technical support, especially when you deal with high performance polymers Customer, doesn’t matter if OEM or Tier 1, Tier 2, they all require a quick turnaround on samples, quotes, or answers to general product related question. In general, a material supplier should have a technical staff that can support the customer from ideation to commercialization and even further. This includes application development engineers who work with the customer to fine-tune their process to best run the materials on the processing machine. Another support can be in-house of the supplier itself by providing design and launch support such as filling simulations and FEA analysis. Prototyping facilities can be a help to test first ideas. Application engineers can help in metal to plastics, weight and cost reduction projects. Solving production issues and minimizing down time for trialing materials completes the support.

Tip number 4: Good suppliers have in-house regulatory teams
Regulatory requirements are becoming more challenging whether the polymer is used in manufacturing medical devices, packaging, automotive, or consumer products dealing with food. A regulatory team is a must have to keep up with regulatory changes on a global scale. Different markets have different regulatory bodies and the supplier needs to be up to date and ensure the standard in different world regions. The best is to have regulatory teams which consist out of product safety experts with a global approach on regulatory affairs. With that, integrity of the raw materials and finished goods is kept on a global level.

Tip number 5: Global and local-to-local supply
For global active companies which run operations in Asia, America and Europe, having a local sales and technical support is important. For example, when an OEM designs a product in North America support is needed there. And when the product from this OEM will be manufactured by a contractor in Asia, material and support needs to be there too. Especially with complex part designs and/or manufacturing processes it is helpful when sales and technical staff are involved firsthand in order to make the best product recommendations.

Bonus Tip: Dual sourcing
For certain application it can be beneficial to have a second supplier validated as a backup. This takes up some time upfront, however it can pay off when the supply situation of the primary source has troubles.

Altogether, using those tips can help you in your decision process to find the optimal supplier.
Thanks for reading and till next time!
Herwig Juster

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