Recent studies show manufacturing costs in the U.S. and Mexico are at or below those of China, according to the Boston Consulting Group and Alix Partners. Manufacturers with operations in the U.S. and Mexico have been known to quote both options per project in order to better understand cost differences. Consider the following five factors to help make the best determination for your business:
In general, manufacturing in Mexico saves money with regard to labor when the labor content is between 20 and 30%. Companies may save an estimated 10 to 15% on assembly costs in Mexico over U.S. costs on medium-volume projects with at least 20% labor content.
Understanding the variability in demand is crucial as customs and transportation/logistics costs are negligible when border crossings are reduced to one or two per week.
The scale of the project will impact annualized cost savings. For example, clustering a product family with a mix of low- and medium-volume production may provide the needed scale to drive significant savings.
While finished goods may cross the border the same day they are manufactured, some border locations are easier to reach than others. Strong manufacturing clusters are also located farther south, including Guadalajara and Monterrey, but these facilities typically require a greater supply chain pipeline.
Consider the end-market when determining the most cost-effective choice. Where will the product ultimately ship? The free trade agreements between the U.S. or Mexico and the end-market country should also play a role in the decision.
Mexico has a high-quality, well-trained labor pool, especially in skilled trades like tooling and metal fabrication. Carefully weigh all the factors when deciding which side of the border your manufacturing operations should take place
Hardwall or softwall? A new hybrid cleanroom from Terra makes it possible to benefit from the best of both worlds. The modular, freestanding cleanroom behaves like a hardwall because it maintains specified positive pressure and cleanliness levels and is similar to a softwall because it’s economical and portable. The unit converts any unclassified space into an ISO 5-8 cleanroom and is also ideal for enclosing particle-sensitive process equipment.
Its panels are made of continuous, flexible, 40mm antistatic PVC, pulled taut around a steel frame. Smooth internal surfaces wipe down easily with sterilizers; no surface obstacles prevent wipe-down. The PVC panels eliminate static attraction leading to particulate contamination.
The ceiling grid is supported by a powder-coated steel frame and holds a power module, lights, fan/filter units and ceiling panels.
Enter the cleanroom through a full-sized, aluminum-framed swing door.
Connector failures, like the one in the F-16 fighter plane that caused engine failure and plane crashes, underscore the importance of electrical contacts. In this case, fretting corrosion from vibration led to the failure of the connector that supplied power to the main fuel shut-off valve, according to the Copper Development Association.
Now, a new book from the association sheds light on electrical contacts, how they work and the various materials involved. The 40-page book titled Copper in Electrical Contacts is available to download here for free.
Specifically, the book explains contact interface, arcing and non-arcing contacts, fixed contacts and sliding contacts. It also includes descriptions of more than 30 popular copper alloys as well as property tables for contacts, parts and springs.
A new advancement in flexible electronics may prove advantageous by any stretch of the imagination—stretchable metal. The new discovery, by researchers at Washington State University, allows metal films to stretch to twice their size and may be ideally suited for bendable batteries, robotic skins, wearable devices and connected fabrics.
The research is the first step to overcoming the challenges of metal, coiled springs used by manufacturers for years. While the springs stretch and maintain connectivity, they take up space that complicates the design of high-density circuitry. Also, electricity must travel farther in coiled springs, so devices utilize more power and larger batteries.
During testing, metal films, made out of indium, were bonded to a plastic layer commonly used in electronics and stretched to two times their original size. Ultimately, the plastic layer broke, not the metal.
Researchers have filed for a patent and published their findings in Applied Physics Letters.
GraphExeter, the recently discovered graphene-based material that is more resilient than graphene, is positioned to replace indium tin oxide (ITO), the main conductive material used in most touchscreen applications and some solar panels. Graphene is the thinnest material known to mankind as is also capable of conducting electricity. At just one-atom thick, it is flexible and strong—about 200 times stronger than steel. It isn’t, however, resistant to extreme conditions, and it’s expensive.
Researchers from the University of Exeter discovered GraphExeter earlier this year and note the new material can withstand relative humidity of up to 100 percent for 25 days, at temperatures of up to 150°C. In a vacuum, GraphExeter can withstand temperatures of up to 620°C. Its resiliency may also prove advantageous in space applications and in harsh environments like nuclear power plants. Conductive GraphExeter, like Graphene, is also transparent, lightweight and flexible.
ITO has limited flexibility before it begins to crack and is also expensive, which is why ITO replacement is a large and growing market estimated to reach $8.1 billion by 2021.