Choosing a Plastic Fastener Supplier

Fasteners are Popular!

Plastic Fastener SupplierIndustrial fasteners are very popular, and are used in, well, almost very product you can imagine.  They are in such demand, in fact, that the global market for Industrial Fasteners is forecast to reach $81 billion by the year 2018, according to Global Industry Analysts,  a leading market research publisher.

According to the report, key factors fueling market growth include revival in motor vehicle production, increased demand from developing regions, and potential growth in construction, electrical and electronic, and aerospace sectors. The report goes on to say that fasteners are also in high demand in the manufacture of electrical- oriented products, such as lightening and wiring devices, home appliances, and construction equipment.

Interestingly, bolts represent the largest product segment in the industrial fasteners market (screws constitute the second largest product category). Major  factors propelling growth in this product category is the growing demand for specialized aircraft products and renovations, upgrades, add-ons of existing houses, apartment complexes, and buildings.  Of particular interest, sales of plastic fasteners are expected to be among the fastest growth rates in industrial fasteners.

How to choose a Plastic Fastener Supplier

It’s important to find a plastic fastener supplier that you can trust, and that will be able to give you the high quality parts you want, on time, and for a great price.  Here’s some important criteria to look for, when comparing or searching for a plastic fastener supplier:

1. Do they offer what you need?

There are hundreds of commercial plastics and materials available today (see a few popular types of plastic materials).  Not every supplier has them all, or has easy access to them.  Does the supplier you are considering offer the plastic material you’ll need? How about the shape? Further, some materials are only available in resin or rod forms.  Will you need high tolerances for your application, rigidity, heat, UV, or water resistance?  Will the materials be machined, molded, or stamped?  Look for a supplier with a wide variety of options.

2.  Niche market or generalist?  

Some suppliers and manufacturers are very good at specific ‘niche’ markets or industries.  For example, some manufacturers are really custom-driven or one-off manufacturers. They might be great problem solvers, and really helpful when you need plastic parts within custom applications.   These manufacturers are excellent at plastic machining (fewer parts made but more precise).  Other manufacturers are better suited to providing larger quantities of plastic parts, through plastic injection molding machines.

Often, calling suppliers who can draw from several manufacturers might be a great start. They’ll have the widest selection, and good ones will know the right suppliers.

3.  What standard does the company use?

When buying finished plastic components, you’ll want to look to those using typical industry standards.  Two industry standards are the ANSI standard, or the ISO standard. Manufacturers that produce parts conform to ANSI and ISO standards in order to be a legitimate competitor in the marketplace, while some manufacturers create their own ‘standard’ by creating their own dimensions (and built in monopoly).

4.  Where are they located?

This may not be important to everyone, but for some, the location of a manufacturer or distribution center is a factor.  Some required or desire components to be made in the United States or Canada.  An major benefit to selecting suppliers in closer proximity is is the reduction in shipping costs or delivery times.   Finally, having a customer service team in the same time zone is nice when your business hours mirror yours closely.

5.  Are they up on the latest technology and equipment?

This is less important if you are looking for a supplier or distributor, or only care about the end product. But a great clue to a good manufacturer with a good product is knowing the level of quality that they maintain, usually backstopped by solid production methodologies  and state-of-the-art equipment with close tolerances. If quality is a concern, order a few products and check the quality before going “whole hog” into buying in quantity.

6.  Do they provide other services?

Some manufacturers can help you design and plan for your project, and help engineer a solution to your application.  Be prepared to pay for this service, and some will assume they are your proprietary supplier, so be up front about your desire to work with them across design and manufacturing phases.

7. How’s their History?

Have they been in business for a while?  Good.  Longer means they’ve figured it out, and have enough expertise to know what they are talking about.  Be wary of new suppliers or manufacturers.

8.  How’s the Price?

This is where a supplier can shine.  Given all the other factors, it often comes down to price. But don’t be fooled – “all other factors” are important, and poor quality or over-time deliveries can end up costing our way more than price savings.  Shop around, but once you find a great supplier, a great relationship begets great service and trust.