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Android Device Manufacturers in China: A Complete Guide

Android Watch

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Android OS has come a long way since it was first launched a decade ago. Today, Android is not only powering smartphones and tablets – but everything from Set-Top Boxes and Advertising Displays, to Smart Home and IoT systems.

In this article, we explain what importers must know about Android and technology licensing terms, product compliance requirements – and what you must look for when sourcing Android device manufacturers in China.

Overview of Android Enabled Devices

The Android OS is not just for phones and tablets. The Android OS has evolved since its initial launch, and is now used in the following products:

  • Tablets
  • Smartphones
  • Laptops
  • Smart Watches
  • Set-Top Boxes
  • TV Dongles
  • PoS Systems
  • GPS Navigation Systems
  • Radios
  • Car Entertainment Systems
  • Advertising Displays
  • Smart Home / IoT (Internet of Things) Devices

Continue Reading →

Buying Injection Molds from Manufacturers in China: A Complete Guide

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If you plan to import a custom designed or even private label product, chances are that you need get an injection mold manufactured in China.

In this article, you will learn when and how to order an injection mold, various methods of ensuring the ownership of the mold, payment terms and much more.

Note: While this article is primarily focused on injection molds, most principles can be applied to extrusion molds, blow molds, die casting and other tooling.

When is a custom mold needed?

If you intend to create a custom designed product, or make changes to an existing product design, you need an injection mold.

Injection molds are used for various materials, including plastics, glassware, ceramics, stainless steel and alloys.

As such, injection molds are used when making everything from phone cases and plastic buttons – to wristwatches and jewelry parts.

What what stage should I buy a mold?

Your supplier needs the mold before they can even make a sample for you. As such, you need to buy the injection mold before the manufacturer starts the sampling process.

That said, you can use the same mold, as is used to make the prototype or sample, for mass production.

Most molds can be used to make hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions, of units. Thus, the mold can be used for many orders – and may even outlast the product design itself.

Injection Mold

Can I expect my supplier to pay for the mold?

No, importing from Asia is like flying with a low cost airline. No extras are included, be it lab testing or injection molds.

As an importer, you must therefore finance the cost of the injection mold (and other types of molds and tooling for that matter) before you can start the sampling and mass production process.

How much should I pay for the mold?

That depends entirely on the size, complexity and material. For a simple component, say a watch case, the mold cost can be as low as $200.

However, for more complex products with narrow dimensional tolerance requirements (i.e., plastic pallets), the mold cost can be as high as $40,000.

That said, for most consumer goods, the mold fee is somewhere between $150 to $800.

As mentioned, the mold can be used for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of units. Therefore, the cost per unit is often extremely low.

What are the standard payment terms for molds?

That depends mostly on the mold and prototype cost. If the total is below $1000, the buyer normally pays the entire sample and tooling cost up front.

If above $1000, you may pay 30% before they start producing the mold, and 70% upon completion and successful testing.

Keep in mind that most suppliers don’t make any profit of the mold itself, and therefore need to secure, at a minimum, a deposit before they order the mold and other tooling from their subcontractor.

Where can I find mold manufacturers in China?

Specialized injection mold manufacturers are present all over China, and its industrial cluster. However, there is a higher concentration of mold suppliers in Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Guangdong province.

Many mold suppliers are also based in Taiwan, even though a large percentage have moved production to the mainland.

That said, buyers rarely need to source mold suppliers on their own. Instead, the majority of importers use the injection mold suppliers, already used by their assembly manufacturer.

In the Watch industry, for example, none of the so called ‘Watch suppliers’ (they put the pieces together basically), manufacture injection molds for the various components needed.

Instead, they subcontract this to specialized mold and tooling suppliers.

For most products, it’s better to just use the suppliers existing network of mold suppliers.

That said, if they cannot match your technical specifications, you may want to consider contacting a mold supplier directly.

How can I protect mold ownership?

As you pay for the molds, you may assume that they are by default owned by you. That said, the ownership is practically impossible to claim, unless it is written on paper.

For example, you must state in the sales contract, that the mold is owned by your company, and can be collected at the supplier’s facility with short notice.

Does mold ownership equal IP ownership?

No, there is no relation between the two. Owning the mold doesn’t mean that your design is protected in any way. To ensure that your designs are protected, you need to file for a design patent (or design protection, if you are based in Europe).

That said, you can only protect a design that is ‘new and unique’. Hence, it’s not an option for most importers.

Where should the mold be kept?

The injection mold, and other tools, is normally kept in the supplier’s production facility, even when not used. This can pose a serious risk, as the supplier may use your mold to manufacture products for themselves – or other buyers – without letting you know.

To reduce the risk of this ever happening, you can store the injection mold at the premises of a trusted third party in China – and return it to the supplier before production, only to collect it once again after production completion.

Chinese Mold Sample

How can I prevent my supplier from making a copy of my mold?

The short answer is that you can’t prevent them from making a 2nd version of your injection mold. As explained above, there are ways to make it harder for the supplier to steal your design, but you cannot stop your supplier if they really, really, want to copy your product.

The only way to truly protect your designs is by filing for design and utility patents, and get your brand and logo trademark.

This costs money, but there are no shortcuts.

That said, I think many importers overestimate the supplier’s interest in replicating their products.

It’s good to be aware of it, and implement measures that will at the very least make it harder for the supplier to copy your products – but the risk of IP theft should not hold you back from launching a product.

Do I need a mold when buying private label products?

By definition, a private label product is an existing factory designed product, and therefore you should not need to invest in new injection molds and other tooling.

Reality, however, is often quite different.

In China, most suppliers are primarily OEMs. Hence, they manufacture products according to specification – rather than developing their own products.

They are, for the most part, not true private label suppliers. At best, you may find that they have some generic designs available off shelf, with ready made injection molds.

Many of the products they upload on Alibaba.com and Globalsources.com are ‘for reference only’. In fact, what you see on their supplier page is in many cases products they have never even manufactured.

There’s nothing wrong with that. They use these directories to showcase what they have made in the past, and what they can make.

But don’t assume that there is a complete set of tooling for every product they list.

Can I use existing injection molds to make my product?

Yes, but as explained above, don’t assume that they have an organized catalog of ODM products for your choosing.

At best, they have a limited number of designs you can choose from.

But even then, you may for any of the following reasons not be able to use their existing injection molds:

a. Design changes: If you intend t make even the slightest design change, you need a new injection mold.

b. Ownership issues: Buyer ownership goes both ways. There are loyal and trustworthy suppliers out there, and they will not rent out molds from their customers to other (especially new) buyers.

c. Material changes: Injection molds can often only be used for specific materials. Even if you find a design you like, you can only use it for the material (i.e., PP plastic or Zinc Alloy) that it was made for. If you want to change materia (i.e., to TPU plastic or 316L Stainless Steel, you need to pay for a new mold.

Can I take the mold with me if I change suppliers?

Yes, at least in theory, and assuming that you are the actual owner of the mold. That being said, don’t assume that your supplier will let you take the mold without putting up a fight.

They can make up all sorts of reasons, and some suppliers will not care about previous agreements.

If you plan to ‘break up’ with your supplier, collect your molds weeks or even months before you let them know.

You may even want to create a 2nd set of molds, to use as a backup, if you ever get into a dispute with your supplier (in which case, they are very likely to use your molds as a collateral).

If you would ever lose access to your molds, you will face a severe supply chain disruption, as you will be forced to source a new supplier and buy an another mold – a process that can easily take 4 to 5 months.

How long time does it take to make the mold?

That depends on the complexity and size of the mold, but smaller molds normally take around 30 to 40 days to produce and adjust.

Adjusting the mold can be both time consuming and unpredictable, which is why it takes such a long time.

In many cases, additional adjust are needed, even after the initial 40 days spent.

What should I look for when selecting an injection mold supplier?

As mentioned, you may not even need to source an injection mold manufacturer by yourself. For most products, it’s easier and even safer to use the supplier’s existing mold supplier.

That said, if you for any reason decide to try finding one on your own, use the following checklist:

1. Do they make molds related to your product?

2. Do they make molds for the same type of plastic or metal you plan to use?

3. Does their business scope include the term ‘mold’ or ‘tooling’?

4. Do they have a registered capital of at least RMB 1,000,000?

5. Do they have a quality management system in place? (i.e., ISO 9001:2015)

6. Do they have any references from customers in your target markets?

7. Do they allow you to store the mold with a trusted third party? (rather than keeping the mold in their own factory).

Can I find mold suppliers on Alibaba.com and Globalsources.com?

Yes, there are thousands of injection mold suppliers listed on Alibaba, and at least a few hundred of Globalsources.com.

Use can use their supplier filtering functions, and use the data, to ensure that the suppliers match the requirements outlined in the checklist above.

Can I find mold suppliers at Trade shows?

Yes, there are often molds and tooling suppliers present at the Canton Fair, and the various trade shows in Hong Kong hosted by HKTDC and Globalsources.com.

That said, most are specialized to make molds for a specific industry, so you will find them as part of the broader supplier spectrum.

Do I need to pay import duties, VAT or other taxes on the mold?

The cost of the injection mold must be included in the customs value. As such, you will need to pay import duties and other taxes.

This is the case even if the injection molds remain with the manufacturer in China, and never even crosses the border.

You can either choose to include the full cost of the injection mold in the customs value of your first shipment, or split it up over several shipments.

Notice that this is applicable also to samples costs and service fees paid to the supplier, and not only the injection mold.

Are there any regulations or safety standards applicable for molds?

Product safety standards are normally not applicable to the mold itself, but to the finished product.

Product regulations do affect the injection mold, in the sense that you need to ensure that the design is safe for the end consumer.

In addition, the material must also comply with relevant chemical and heavy metals regulations.

Do you want to launch your own private label or custom designed product?

It can be hard to go from a design drawing to finished product. To help you manage the entire process – from creating a specification, to sampling and quality control – we created a Starter Package:

a. Private Label & OEM Product Manufacturer Lists

b. Product Specification Templates

c. Product Label Samples

d. Tutorials, Video Walkthroughs and Task Lists that guide you step-by-step through the entire process

In addition, you can also book quality inspections, lab testing and shipping directly from the platform. Click here to learn more.

Clothing Manufacturers in China: How to Find the Right Factory

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Looking to design your own T-shirt or launch your a knitwear collection? Outsourcing to China, or other low cost countries, may be your only option. In this article, I explain what you need to know when selecting a clothing manufacturer, substance regulations, material quality and managing the product development and production process.

Regardless of whether you’re an apparel startup looking to try out a new product line, or consider yourself the next Karl Lagerfeld, this article is packed with actionable advice for you. But first, I’ll explain why buying wholesale clothing from China is rarely an option.

Buying wholesale clothing from China?

The Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) of clothing and textile items is often 300 to 500 pcs, per design. That translates into a major investment, assuming you want to launch an entire collection.

Many importers assumes that the solution to this is by skipping manufacturing, and purchase off shelf clothing from wholesalers. Continue Reading →

Case Study: How We Helped a Customer Launch a Watch Brand in 4 Steps

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Lanna Watches AB (Sweden) contacted Chinaimportal.com in October 2016. In this Case Study, you will learn how they used the Starter Package 2017 to develop and launch their first product.

All the features and functions mentioned in this Case Study are included in the Starter Package.

Note: The process in this case study can be applied to any product category, not only watches.

All companies and names mentioned in this case study have been altered. The case study is based on email records, images and protocols.

1. Prepare Product Specification

Before even sending a first email to a supplier, the customer created a product specification. This exact process is outlined in Part 1: Create Product Specifications of the Starter Package.

a. Download template and create spec sheet

As all suppliers make products according to the specifications, John (co-founder of Lanna Watches) had to be sure that all technical details were covered. To make sure that they get their specification right, they followed the process in Part 1: Create Product Specification (Above).

To speed up the process, they used Template 1A: Product Specification Sheet, to list all technical details and quality requirements.

b. Research all applicable product regulations (using Module 7 of the Starter Package)

As Lanna Watches AB is based in the European Union, which is also their primary market, compliance with all applicable product regulations is crucial.

Failing to ensure compliance can result in the goods being seized by the customs authorities, something that would be disastrous to a small startup like Lanna Watches.

The problem, for John and his partner, was that they have no clue which regulations apply to Watches in the EU. Luckily for them, the Starter Package includes an entire module for product regulations, in the EU and US, for all the products we cover.

Continue Reading →

Buying Private Label Products in China: A Complete Guide

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Importing Private Label Products from China is a shortcut to success. How hard can it be to just pick a product, send over a logo file and start selling something on Amazon? Well, as I explain in this article, reality is a lot more complex than what many importers may think.

Keep reading, and learn why private labelling is not really what it seems to be in China, and why it can be more complex to get an ODM product right – compared to a custom designed product.

We also explain what Startups and SME’s must know about Intellectual property issues, printing specifications – and how much you should expect to pay a logo print! Yes, this is by far the most comprehensive guide on private label imports written.

What is Private labelling?

A private label product is manufactured by Company A, but with the brand name (i.e., logo and packaging) of Company B. In theory, Company A (the producer) provides a ready-made ‘product template’, to which other buyers can apply their own brands.

The benefit of private labelling is that you can create a branded product, without investing into all too much time and money in product development – and tooling. Hence, you can launch a product much faster.

Continue Reading →

Clothing and Textiles Quality Control: A Complete Guide – By Renaud Anjoran

clothing quality control

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Renaud Anjoran is the founder of Sofeast, a quality control agency based in Shenzhen, and a leading expert in quality assurance. Renaud is also a regular contributor to the Chinaimportal Knowledge Base.

In this article, he explains what apparel and textiles importers must know about preventing and managing quality issues.

Keep reading, and learn more about the types of quality issues in the apparel industry – and how they can be avoided.

Based on your experience, what are the most common quality issues, that Buyers of Apparel and Textiles must be aware of?

I would distinguish between three types of quality issues.

First, some quality issues are due to the materials and accessories. For example, the yarn was not dyed in the wrong color, or a zipper does not come from the agreed supplier or brand. They are widespread on many or all garments. I would include non-conform packing materials here.

How to avoid these issues?

a. If you purchase high volumes, have your suppliers work with directed sub-suppliers that your company vets. Prices might go up a bit, but you will usually get it back through fewer issues. Note, this is especially true of packing materials, and not always applicable to fabrics or to the main accessories. Some companies buy the materials and accessories and pay workshops for a CMT job.

b. Have the supplier make a pre-production sample in the bulk materials. Review that sample, as well as fabric swatches (not small ‘lab dips’) for other colors, if any.

c. Send an inspector in the factory to check all the materials and accessories.

Second, some problems are due to the patterns or to the way the fabric was cut. A common temptation for factories is to reduce fabric consumption. It generally takes two forms:

1. Cutting just a bit smaller. As a consequence, finished garments tend to be smaller than requested – sometimes an entire size under expectation, especially if sewing operators don’t respect the ‘sewing allowance’.

2. Positioning the shapes so as to improve efficiency, irrespective of the desired direction of threads. On underwear this can affect fitting, and more generally it can trigger bad visual defects such as twisting or puckering. This is quite common in China.

There are many other potential issues coming from the cutting. They are more common on knit fabrics since they are not always processed adequately (insufficient time to retract, too many layers…). Continue Reading →

Watch Manufacturers in China: A Complete Guide

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Millions of watches are assembled in China every year, primarily in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. With hundreds of watch manufacturers to choose from, it can be somewhat tricky to find one capable to manufacture your watch design.

In this article, we share our experience on China’s wristwatch industry, and explain the factors that matters when selecting a manufacturer. We also explain what importers must know about design customization, and how this has a direct impact on pricing and minimum order quantity requirements.

The role of the Watch manufacturer

The truth is that a ‘Watch manufacturer’ don’t really manufacture the watches. They assemble the watches, and procure all individual components. The Watch case, crown, hands, clock face and even the indexing are all produced by specialized subcontractors.

This also applies to movements, which are often procured directly from Miyota, Seiko or Ronda.

The Watch supplier is essentially managing these subcontractors, and assemble the final products. In general, all Watch suppliers have access to the same subcontractors. As they don’t invest much in R&D, this means that all suppliers in the industry have access to the same materials and components.

Does that mean that all suppliers are equal? Definitely not. Watch manufacturers differ on the following factors:

a. Product compliance: Most suppliers are not aware of EU and US product regulations,  such as REACH and RoHS. Hence, they may supply a product with excessive amounts of lead and other restricted substances.

b. Quality management: Managing a large number of subcontractors is not an easy task. At a minimum, the supplier must have established procedures for checking incoming materials and components – and checkpoints on the assembly line.

c. Management: Some people are just better at taking care of their customers and running businesses than others. This is also how it works in China’s watch industry.

So, what about pricing? The price difference between two suppliers is normally very slim, assuming you get quoted based on the same product specification. As mentioned, the suppliers are buying materials and components from the same network of subcontractors. Continue Reading →

Importing Leather Goods from China: A Complete Guide

leather products

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Leather is used to make everything from shoes and wallets, to furniture cover and handbags. In this article, we explain what Importers of leather goods must know about different types and qualities of leather, labeling requirements and chemical regulations.

We also explain why you need to be skeptical about the origin of certain leather types, and why you need to steer clear of materials that contain Phthalates and lead.

Leather Types & Qualities

There four main types of leather:

  • Full grain
  • Top grain
  • Split leather
  • Corrected grain

Most suppliers tend to provide domestic cow leather, with calf leather as an upgraded option. Some suppliers can also offer more exclusive forms of leather, for example from crocodiles and other animals. Continue Reading →

Hoverboard Factories in China: A Case Study

white hoverboard

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About to import Hoverboards? This article might make you think twice. In this case study, we share the results of our own market research in the Hoverboard industry, and explain why the findings are relevant to buyers in virtually any industry.

We also explain why we believe that the reported incidents will also result in stricter regulations, and standardized certificate submission procedures. But first, let’s recap on what actually went wrong with the Hoverboard.

What went wrong with the Hoverboard?

The first reports of hazardous Hoverboards, or balance scooters as they are also called, came out in the last quarter 2015. Less than a year later, in July 2017, the CPSC recalled half a million non-compliant Hoverboards, in the United States.

So, what tarnished the reputation this, otherwise promising, product so badly? The same component that temporarly grounded the Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet. The Lithium-Ion battery. Continue Reading →

Bags and Luggage Manufacturers in China: A Complete Guide

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Looking for bag and luggage factories in China? Look no further.

In this guide, we explain everything you need to know about finding the right manufacturer, ensuring product compliance, drafting product specification sheets and much more – when importing all sorts of bags.

How to select the right bags and luggage factory

Many established bag and luggage manufacturers are based in China’s southern Fujian province. However, there are far more important factors to consider, when selecting the right manufacturer.

This is a rather developed industry, with some manufacturers dating back to the late 1980s. But with so many factories, and trading companies, to choose from – you need to understand what really matters: Continue Reading →