Silicone injection molding requires specialized capabilities, a highly skilled team, and sophisticated equipment. In many ways, when manufacturing silicone products, traditional molding methodologies simply do not apply. As a result, it’s important to know what to look for when seeking an experienced contract manufacturing partner.

At MME group our clean room silicone molding and assembly experience means we are well suited to help engineers and business leaders understand the requirements and considerations involved when manufacturing medical and other highly regulated products.

In-House Silicone Manufacturing Facilities & Team

An in-house silicone molding and assembly team can help ensure quality and consistency is maintained through each stage of the product development process. Streamlined communications also lead to cost savings and reduced lead times. As a more cohesive unit, an in-house team working in an in-house facility can more effectively meet a businesses’ end-to-end product development needs, whether working with silicone or other materials.  

Precision Automated Tooling and Molding

Silicone requires extreme precision in both tooling and molding. In order to maintain its form, tooling must be able to withstand extreme temperatures and the effects of thermal expansion. During the molding process, automated manufacturing means shot and size controls are implemented with great precision. This is crucial in the manufacture of medical and other highly regulated silicone products.

Clean Room-Specific Molding and Assembly

In many industries sterilization is crucial. Dedicated clean rooms and related certifications indicate that a contract manufacturer is up to the task. At MME, for example, we have two dedicated silicone clean rooms for molding, and a dedicated clean room for assembly. We are also ISO 13485:2016 and ISO 9001:2015 certified, and ITAR and FDA registered for medical and government contract manufacturing and assembly.

A Partnership Model

Technical expertise counts a great deal, and should always be closely considered. Additionally, however, when seeking a manufacturer to work with it’s important to speak to those who adhere to a partnership model. At MME group, everything we do is geared toward developing and maintaining the latest technological capabilities while providing robust manufacturing solutions. All of this, of course, is designed to help successfully bring exceptional products to market.

Finishing assembly of nebia shower

Both consumers and business owners many times assume “waterproof” means, well, waterproof. Though it may seem counterintuitive, a waterproof rating - from a product development and manufacturing standpoint - does not always align with the everyday understanding of that term. In other words, a waterproof device may not be able to withstand being fully submerged for long periods or at any significant depth.

So, just what does “waterproof” mean and how can a business ensure it’s protected from litigation involving waterproof claims? And, what system can a business use to measure a product’s water resistance levels so those details can be appropriately communicated to the end consumer? The answer involves IP (Ingress Protection) ratings, which govern dust and water protection levels.

Understanding the IP rating system is crucial as miscommunications between engineers, marketers, and others, can and have led to lawsuits when water resistance capabilities do not match those advertised. And, from a marketing perspective, if a product’s ability to resist water is an important market differentiator, the engineering team will need to ensure those specifications can be met.

In short, by making sense of the system that governs waterproof ratings, businesses can work with contract manufacturers and others to help ensure a product is sufficiently protected. In doing so, a product can be used as designed, and marketing and promotional materials can reflect usage and regulatory realities.

Understanding “Waterproof” and the IP Rating System

Common IP ratings that are typically considered waterproof include P67, IP66, and IP65, among others. So, what exactly do these ratings mean? Let’s break it down.

  • IP - This stands for ingress protection.
  • The first of two numerical digits - Solid particle protection rating.
  • The second of two numerical digits - Liquid protection rating.

So, in this instance the very common IP67 designation has a solid particle protection rating of 6 and a liquid protection rating of 7.

Solid Particle Protection IP Rating Classifications

Solid Particle Rating
Protection Against

0

No protection

1

Object >50 mm

2

Object >12.5 mm

3

Object >2.5 mm

4

Object >1 mm

5

Protected against dust

6

Dust tight

Liquid Protection IP Rating Classifications

Liquid Rating
Protection Against

0

No protection

1

Dripping water

2

Dripping water when tilted at 15°

3

Spraying water

4

Splashing water

5

Water jets

6

Powerful water jets

6k

Powerful water jets with increased pressure

7

Immersion 3 feet in depth

8

Immersion, 3 feet or more in depth

9k

Powerful high temperature water jets

Every entrepreneur is passionate about their idea. The key for many is finding a manufacturer who shares that passion and has the ability to successfully bring a new product to life.

Startups face unique challenges when it comes to finding a manufacturing partner who can meet their needs. And, when the stakes are high, it’s that much more important to be informed. Our aim is to help startup entrepreneurs understand the process of engaging with a manufacturer, the considerations and trade-offs involved, and the associated risks.

Varying Levels of Engagement

A manufacturer should be willing and able to truly engage with a startup during the early stages of development. As anyone who’s worked tirelessly to bring a product to market will tell you, the more engagement in that regard the better. The level of attention startups receive, however, can vary wildly.

Finding a manufacturer is not difficult. But finding one with an engineering staff who will engage with and support your new business is another story.

An experienced partner with a focus on Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DFMA) practices should be ready to work closely with your startup to see that product components are designed for optimal manufacture and assembly. If components do not meet these standards, the manufacturer should be expected to proactively bring forward design solutions to ensure they do.

Startups benefit greatly from the expertise of their manufacturing partners, so working with someone who shares your expectations about the collaborative process is key. In some cases a contract manufacturer may also be able to connect you with others who have significant experienced getting businesses off the ground, bringing products to market, and other efforts that require significant business acumen.

A proven track record of helping provide strategic manufacturing insights, and open communication about these expectations prior to signing an agreement, will go a long way.

U.S. or Abroad

It will come as no surprise that choosing a manufacturer at home or abroad is one of the most important early decisions a new business will make. What sometimes catches startups by surprise, however, is the weight that, in hindsight, many wish they would have given considerations other than price.

Price is of course always a factor, and for some businesses working with an overseas partner is successful. That said, new businesses sometimes fail to take the long-view when considering the many trade-offs associated with this decision.

One of the first things to consider is time to market. A startup looking to take a product to market quickly might face challenges when working with an overseas manufacturer. This is especially important from the point of view of a startup, where design and other changes can be expected, and should be accounted for.

Knowledge transfer between your team and the manufacturer is another consideration when looking at companies is the U.S. and abroad. With a close partnership from prototype to launch, important issues can be brought forward prior to scaling. This again is where, in most cases, close proximity and agility are a benefit.

As a whole, overseas manufacturers also tend to be larger, which can bring about some challenges startups should be aware of.

Large or Small Manufacturing Partner

Working with a large organization can be a strength for some established businesses seeking cost reductions at scale, with production runs large enough to get a big manufacturer’s attention. However, if you are looking for a partner who is nimble, can provide design and other insights based on years of experience, and essentially will work with you as an extensions of your business, a smaller partner can provide important benefits.

Initially many startups find comfort, and perhaps even a bit of perceived legitimacy, in working with a large manufacturer. However, the results can be spotty. Large manufacturers can be less flexible and, frankly, more bureaucratic, than a startup might like. As bureaucracy is never attractive or beneficial for a fast-moving startup, this aspect of the business-manufacturer relationship should be fully vetted during the decision making process.

A larger manufacturer may also farm out individual product components. Needless to say, the disconnect between the business, the manufacturer, and the manufacturer’s subcontractors, can be problematic. Instead of working directly with a team that understands your product, and is committed to its success, this diffuse approach can bring about communication and quality challenges.

Many startups instead choose to inquire about smaller partners’ ability to provide coaching and guidance. That type of collaboration can prevent communication headaches and quality issues, and bring forward insights that inform future product launches.

Finding the “Sweet Spot”

For most startups, the goal, ultimately, is to find a manufacturer who is in the “sweet spot.” This means finding a partner who is not so large as to be unable to give the business the attention they need, but not so small as to lack the full breadth of necessary skills and expertise.

In short, you should seek a manufacturing partner you can work with directly, who is easy to communicate with, who has a full range of skills to help launch your product, and who has the ability and agility to make changes when necessary.

Learn About MME group
Our Team

For tech startups, one fundamental misconception about overseas manufacturing stands out above all else: Cost. While startups many times manufacture overseas because they believe it to be cheaper, many fail to look beyond that initial assumption.

However, when all is said and done, and the full breadth of design, manufacturing, and delivery activities are taken into account, manufacturing abroad typically does not result in financial benefits. Instead quality, communication, and logistical challenges quickly eat away at what initially looked like attractive cost savings.

When thinking about the financial implications of your contract manufacturer’s location, a key set of questions should inform your decision:

  • What Size Organization Will Best Suit Your Needs?
  • Is Your Intellectual Property Sufficiently Protected?
  • Will an Offshore Manufacturer Meet Time to Market Requirements?
  • Can QA Requirements Be Met Now and In the Future?
  • Will Your Manufacturer Help You Get More Value from Your Employees?
  • What Impact Will Communication Challenges Have?
  • Will Currency Fluctuations and Related Issues Arise?
  • Multiple Vendors or a Single, End-to-End Partnership?

What Size Organization Will Best Suit Your Needs?

The weight a manufacturer gives your business, and thus the upfront and ongoing resources they will provide, is an important initial consideration. Even startups with significant initial production runs may face serious challenges receiving the attention they need from overseas manufacturers. This is simply because the landscape is dominated by very large organizations.

Furthermore, the lack of attention given to your product can result in downtime, quality issues, and other factors that have a real impact on your bottom line.

The size of U.S.-based operations, however, vary considerably. This means that, depending on a startup’s size and other circumstances, a new business working with a U.S. manufacturer can more reasonably expect to find a provider that suits their needs.

Is Your Intellectual Property Sufficiently Protected?

Is your intellectual property safe with a manufacturer on the other side of the globe? Given the history of IP protection issues in China and other manufacturing centers, this is a real concern for new startups – but one a new business is many times willing to overlook in order to achieve lower production costs.

The issue has a long history and is still – it will come as no surprise – very much in the forefront today. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 International IP Index ranked China 25th out of 50 countries when it comes to protecting innovations through rights laid out by law.

The U.S. ranked 1st.

Working with a U.S. manufacturer means protecting your business’s most valuable asset: Your intellectual property.

Will an Offshore Manufacturer Meet Time to Market Requirements?

It’s important to note that domestic solutions many times allow a business to bring a new product to market significantly faster than overseas providers. This is not solely due to geographic difficulties, but also because an end-to-end manufacturer will have shorter lead times when inevitable changes arise.

Nothing impacts a business’s bottom line more directly than a product idea that is not being brought to market. Doing so rapidly is a hallmark of U.S. manufacturing.

Can QA Requirements Be Met Now and In the Future?

Without your team present it’s difficult to ensure QA requirements are being met in real-time. Real partnerships based on trust are fostered through close collaboration and proximity. Without these partnerships, quality can fade over time. That is to say, even if your team ensures QA requirements have been met for an initial production run, future shortcuts or other unseen process changes can sometimes lead to quality issues.

A business should also be aware of additional efforts needed to ensure QA requirements are met from afar. Travel, downtime, and other costs can quickly have a serious impact.

Additionally, as consumers experience increased issues as quality fades, a brand’s reputation – and sales – can be affected.

Will Your Manufacturer Help You Get More Value from Your Employees?

By virtue of their working closely with a domestic manufacturer, your team will learn more about the manufacturing process. This in turn can inform future product design and innovation. For example, knowledge sharing with a manufacturer can help a tech startup ensure that Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA) practices mean future products are designed – from the earliest stages – with optimal manufacture and assembly in mind.

Additionally, a U.S. manufacturer with an approach based on partnerships is many times able to provide all disciplines under one roof, allowing your employees to work with a single fully-informed team.

All this means that, again, your team will gain valuable insights while freeing up time to focus on core skill sets that help ensure future financial viability.

Will Communication Challenges Have an Impact?

Many businesses who work with overseas manufacturers face a number of communication issues brought on by language, distance, travel time, and longer-than-expected holiday delays.

It’s important for operations teams to stay in sync with the manufacturers they work with. That means the 12 to 15 hours that Shenzhen is behind U.S. time zones can have a real impact. The true costs associated with overseas manufacturing sometimes only becomes apparent after an agreement is finalized and work starts in earnest.

Launching a new product while staying on budget is difficult enough without these barriers, of course. This highlights another reason U.S. manufacturing is a competitive option for many tech startups.

Will Currency Fluctuations and Related Issues Arise?

If your finance team would prefer a model that does not need to account for currency fluctuations, tariffs, and potential trade conflicts, you may be well served by a U.S. manufacturer.

Manufacturing products at home means benefiting from a degree of stability that cannot be matched abroad, helping prudent businesses minimize risk.

Multiple Vendors or a Single, End-to-End Partnership?

The prospect of a single vendor providing a turnkey solution is another aspect of U.S. manufacturing that leads many startups to reconsider overseas organizations. By working with a startup during each phase – from the initial concept to product launch – a single manufacturer who questions contract manufacturing norms can provide invaluable solutions.

In short, with a U.S. partner, increased efficiencies available through vertical integration provide startups with benefits that cannot be readily matched by Chinese-based or other overseas manufacturers.

Recognizing Challenges Abroad and Unlocking the Potential of U.S. Manufacturing

As a full service contract manufacturer helping businesses bring new products to market, we understand that the collaborative process is more nuanced and involved than many startups initially realize.

A manufacturer with a partnership approach taking into account all aspects from concept to completion can help keep costs low. For startups based in the U.S., that type of partnership model is typically found in the U.S. This is because domestic manufacturers are more often the right size, employ full supply chain management and control, and work directly to quickly and efficiently implement changes.

This is why we firmly believe startups should explore all their options, question perceived norms, and work to fully understand the benefits and risks associated with this important early decision.

Learn more about MME group, Inc., and how we help startups excel.

We are Hiring! Visit Us To Discuss Exciting Career Opportunities

Join MME group June 13th from 4 to 7pm for a fun and informative career fair! Learn about exciting opportunities in the manufacturing industry, talk to experienced professionals, and enjoy complimentary food and beverages. Our open positions include both entry-level and senior roles with plenty of opportunity for advancement.

At MME group, our employees are more than a number. If you are seeking a career where you can focus on your unique goals, where you have long-term opportunities for career growth, and where you enjoy comprehensive and competitive benefits, be sure to visit us to learn more.

We are a results-oriented workplace. With a focus on our core values of personal accountability, teamwork, and open communication, we have spent decades building an enjoyable and productive work environment to help you thrive.

 

Open House Flyer and Available Positions

For more information and to RSVP contact Tracie at (651) 483-0965.

Location: MME group offices, 1025 Kristen Court St. Paul, MN 55110

Time: June 13th, 4-7pm

MME Group Company Logo

With large (750 ton) plastic injection molding presses, MME group is positioned to help companies in ways that other contract manufacturers are not. Working with a manufacturer with these capabilities means being able to produce large parts in significant volumes – and doing so more quickly and economically than many other full service contract manufacturers.

We are dedicated to providing a full range of plastic injection molding services for our clients. As a result we are well equipped with presses that range in size from 10 to 750 tons.

For clients who need our services quickly, are experiencing difficulties with their current manufacturer, or have overflow work that needs to be moved to another manufacturing partner, our robust transfer process is customized to each business’s unique needs. We pride ourselves in being responsive to timeline and logistics when it comes to transferring manufacturing work, and our process is entirely transparent.

Decreased Lead Times and Reduced Costs

Additionally, unlike many other manufacturers with large presses, at MME group, we have invested in the tooling capabilities necessary to build, repair, and maintain large molds. The result is decreased lead times and a far more beneficial and cost-effective process when something need to be adjusted or repaired.

Sophisticated robotics further help MME group minimize costs by reducing labor needs at the press. Additionally, as part of our lean manufacturing process, building assemblies directly at the press helps reduce product handling steps.

More Capabilities Under One Roof

To fully leverage a contract manufacturing relationship means seeking to – whenever possible – choose a partner who has wide-ranging capabilities under one roof.

At MME group, our investment in large plastic injection presses up to 750 tons is just one of many examples that showcase our technical expertise and dedication to end-to-end manufacturing solutions. This helps us ensure we meet the rigorous standards we have set for ourselves, the products we help create, and the service we provide to our clients.

Our clients also save time and money by minimizing the need to go to outside sources for large molded parts, which otherwise can add lead time, markup, and shipping fees.

If you are seeking a new manufacturing partner, or would like to simply learn more about our capabilities, contact MME group today.

Contact Us
The MME group Team

MME group Inc. is proud to announce that we have received approval for two new International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Certifications: ISO 13485-2016 and ISO 9001-2015.

These certifications show that MME group is well suited to manufacture medical devices meeting customer and regulatory requirements, and that the company has met ISO’s quality management principles.

In the world of contract manufacturing ISO certifications are all-important third party verifications that a company provides a high level of service with a demonstrated ability to meet key requirements important to any business seeking a manufacturing partner.

ISO is an international, independent, non-governmental organization which develops specifications to ensure quality, safety, and efficiency while promoting innovation and providing solutions to global challenges.

Of course, these types of certifications are nothing new to MME. In fact, we have long held ISO’s previous versions of these very same certifications – and are honored to once again display to ISO auditors our technical capabilities and customer-focused principles.

On May 5th, MME group will again participate in Moving Day® Twin Cities, a fundraiser walking event dedicated to organizing families, friends, and communities in the fight against Parkinson’s Disease.

If you would like to join us during this inspirational day, or seek to make a tax deductible donation, please visit our team page on the Moving Day® website. We are proud to announce that MME corporate matches all donations raised.

Making a donation on the site is easy, is a wonderful way to show your support, and is greatly appreciated. By benefiting The Parkinson’s Foundation Minnesota Chapter your donation will help improve the care of those affected and further research aimed at finding a cure.

Physical movement has been found to delay the effects of Parkinson’s Disease. Moving Day® Twin Cities participants walk in acknowledgement of those benefits and the enduring hope of finding a cure.

Please help us spread the word about this exceptionally important event.

Vadnais Heights Economic Development Corporation (VHEDC) Honors MME Group Vice President of Operations and HR

(Vadnais Heights, MN) On Wednesday, March 21st, at Vadnais Heights Commons, the VHEDC presented awards to several outstanding individuals for their excellence in business and their valuable contributions to the community.

VHEDC Executive Director Ling Becker says, “Congratulations from the entire VHEDC Board of Directors to David Gunderson on receiving the 2018 VHEDC Rising Star Award. We appreciate the opportunity to recognize emerging leaders in our community and the impacts they are making in their businesses and beyond.”

Rising Star Awards

Rising Stars Awards are presented to individuals younger than 40 years of age who demonstrate outstanding leadership that benefits the community and its citizens. Areas of outstanding service include working with youth, adults, and families to improve the northeast metro area. Leadership qualities include creativity, volunteerism, responsibility, problem-solving, respectfulness, cooperation and organizational skills. Leadership qualities are not limited to VHEDC activities and may include work for other organizations.

Alexandria Schumacher, Vice President of Operations and HR for MME Group

Alexandria has risen to the top of her profession in less than seven years from Customer Service entry level employee to VP level at a $20M+ manufacturing company that employees over 100 people. Alexandria began her climb to the top by recognizing the need to create a new role in the corporation to take a large load of the ownership. She built the role of Account manager plus an entire “Customer Experience Department” which services all customer needs. That success led her to accept the huge challenge of driving all company product operations. 

Alexandria directs all company product operations. She has created and empowered teams for continuous improvement, is changing the scheduling processes for two plants and coaching technical leads to grow their people. She has taken the company core beliefs of “treating everyone with dignity and respect” and built that into company culture. She has driven and installed a mandatory management leadership training program, coordinated for others to have continuing education courses and is collaborating to help send technical people to out-of-state conventions for their exposure and educational purposes.

Alexandria’s drive does not stop at MME group. She has another company that is an LLC with large goals to own several luxury hotels in the future. Her efforts today are also coupled with her goals for the future of her own private company.

About VHEDC

The VHEDC is a private non-profit organization made up of investing businesses since 1984. Its mission is to enhance economic development in the City of Vadnais Heights and the surrounding areas through the attraction, retention and expansion of existing businesses and industries. This will be accomplished by serving as a conduit of economic development resources, building collaborations with strategic partners, and providing advocacy.  For more information about the VHEDC, contact Executive Director Ling Becker at 651-485-9532 or lingbecker@vhedc.com.

When people talk about millennials in manufacturing, preconceptions abound. They are seen as having a poor work ethic, being in constant need of praise, and possessing no loyalty to their employers. Not only have we found these stereotypes to be divorced from reality, but, far from succumbing to the demands of an entitled generation, we’ve seen firsthand how embracing the expectations of a millennial workforce can help manufacturers succeed.

The Workforce of The Future (And The Present)

Millennials will make up 35 percent of the global workforce by 2020. Not only that, but millennials aren’t just “kids.” Some are approaching forty. In other words, they can’t and shouldn’t be ignored.

To ensure manufacturers have a talented pool of trained professionals to draw from, they need to work to correct outdated misconceptions about the manufacturing industry and ensure they are fostering a culture that is attractive to a generation with a new set of expectations and norms.

And, when we talk about millennials’ professional ”expectations” and “norms” it’s important to remember that every generation has had them. These concepts were certainly not invented for today’s young workers. In our experience, when even the smallest amount of skepticism is applied, the stereotypes about millennials quickly unravel.

How Millennials Are Changing Manufacturing… For The Better

Younger workers are certainly challenging more traditionally-minded employers in their desire to change long-standing practices. Certainly that is true in manufacturing. However, what many modern manufacturers are learning is that the rewards – in recruiting, retention, productivity, and innovation –  far outweigh the costs of changing policies. And, when new policies and procedures are implemented, and leadership embraces change, a cultural shift is sure to follow.

In a 2017 Gallup poll, millennials were found to desire flexibility when and where they work, seek work with a purpose, hope to speak more frequently with superiors, and display a willingness to change employers when the fit isn’t right (though they were found to value stability).

Meeting those expectations head-on means fostering an engaged and innovation-focused workforce where everyone – not just millennials – can grow and thrive.

Connected And Dedicated

Being connected to everyone and everything at all times is obviously something millennials have embraced throughout their lives. This, more than anything, has upended traditional models of the workplace.

The trade-off for millennials raised in the internet age means that, yes, they are willing to be available more often, and from more places, than their predecessors. But in exchange they require flexibility about when and where they work.

Some industries have embraced this change and the benefits of an always-connected workforce more rapidly than others. To be sure, in our view, when logistically possible, the trade-offs seem to benefit both employers and employees. However, more traditional industries like manufacturing still – in many cases – are in the process of undergoing this cultural shift.

When a company culture embraces the freedoms that technology provides, millennials are incredibly productive, dedicated to a company and their future in it, and are important collaborators throughout the manufacturing process.

Purposeful Work is Good Work

The drive to find work with purpose is another reason for manufacturers to embrace the expectations of today’s younger workers. When being part of a production team means more than checking a box, and instead involves a team of people invested in helping businesses and individuals succeed, everyone benefits.

And, no matter what the role, there’s always room to foster individual talents. When ideas are encouraged from contributors across an organization, not only are valuable insights gained, but those who want and need to feel a sense of purpose understand they have a voice and their talents are being utilized.

Manufacturing Has Its Own Stereotypes

Despite possessing advanced technologically capabilities and using them to build the world’s most sophisticated products, manufacturers are still seen as outdated by many young entrants to the workforce. Some students do not see engineering and other manufacturing-oriented paths as a modern career choice. This could not be further from the truth.

Education and outreach regarding today’s modern manufacturing industry is required – and required early – to ensure an eager young generation of skilled professionals is available to manufacturers.

On a micro-level, individual organizations also benefit from these outreach efforts by establishing relationships early for an increasingly frictionless recruiting process.

Reaching Millennials

Once an organization sees past the stereotypes and recognizes the incredible strengths this young generation of professionals possess, the next question is, how do you reach them?

Even during the recruiting process a company can drive home some of the concepts that millennials expect from employers. At MME group, Inc., for example, we are open to creating unique job descriptions based on an individual candidate’s skills and interests. When desired and appropriate, we let candidates know we see real benefits in catering roles specifically to them.

We also recommending extensive outreach to educational institutions to highlight – through real world examples – the benefits of careers in manufacturing, the technological innovations teams take part in, and opportunities for advancement.

Finally, reaching millennials where they live – online – can help set manufacturers apart by conveying key aspects of the company culture, the team, and the experience.

The Future is Bright

When we see the dedication our young generation of professionals brings to the table, we can’t help but be bullish on the future of manufacturing. They are a workforce that is raring to go and eager to learn. As more and more manufacturers recognize that the stereotypes about millennials are, in reality, benefits, we can’t wait to see what the future brings.

Learn More About MME group

Explore MME group Careers