Acriglas Cast Acrylic Sheet is Proud of “Made in USA” Branding
When people ask you where you are from, what do you tell them? I can’t speak for you, but I was made in the USA, and if you were born in the US, then you are from here too. Call yourself “Italian-American”, “Asian-American”, “Latin-American”, “African-American”, “Irish-American” etc, that’s fine; but I’m a good old “Native American” though not the Indian kind. Where is your American pride and spirit? Don’t take this country for granted; you’re here because this is where your ancestors wanted to be; the land of opportunity, land of the free, and home of the brave! Be Proud!
We take for granted that almost everything is manufactured overseas. We expect availability of everything at a low cost due to globalization and the ability to produce things inexpensively elsewhere, especially Asia. So why is anything made in the United States anymore, and what could be your reason for buying products that are “Made in USA”?
Industries will argue it costs too much to make stuff here. Honestly, if you’re going to make something here that looks, works, and has similar quality to products made elsewhere…I would agree that paying more to be proud will not motivate consumers to spend the extra dough. There really isn’t a reason strong enough to make the same products here if there is no greater value in doing so.
Survival in manufacturing in the USA today lies in specialization, premium product offerings, and service. Innovation, creativity, speed of delivery, warranties, and service to end users become the most valuable assets of products manufactured in this country. We can still make stuff here…just not cheap stuff.
Acrilex, for example, manufactures cast acrylic sheet, but not the same pallet of typical commodity colors that every other manufacturer of cast acrylic offers. It does cost us more to make a sheet of acrylic vs just about everyone else, so what we do has to be special. What Acrilex offers are custom colored acrylic sheets, special patterns, different textures, and a process to make a designer or architect’s creativity the focus of the product. Acrilex makes it possible, easy, and “affordable”. So while not “cheap”, it’s not prohibitive either; we live in the Goldilocks zone of manufacturing.
By producing unique products, made-to-order, conceived not by Acrilex, but by Acrilex’s customers, the company manages to continuously re-invent itself. Manufacturing is done quickly and products literally go from concept to delivery in 3-4 weeks. As far as I know, that is not something that you can really do quickly or inexpensively overseas. Acrilex’s existence still allows for the “Art” in manufacturing.
One website I frequent, www.madeintheusabrand.com, features a blog that often discusses the reasons for branding a product that is manufactured in the USA. Below is an excerpt from a guest blog by Tom Bonine, President of National Metal Fabricators, which I couldn’t have expressed any better. The original blog in it’s entirety can be found at: MadeInTheUSABrand, and focuses on other compelling reasons to look for and purchase products manufactured in the United States.
• Jobs and the economy. The bottom line is that when you buy American, you are either creating or saving American jobs. When production facilities move overseas, so do the jobs. Once these jobs go abroad, it is very unlikely that they will come back. Jobs are the foundation of an economy, and purchasing products that are made in a country has a direct impact on its economy. More manufacturing jobs lowers the unemployment rate and increases the tax base to pay for benefits, such as Social Security. New jobs created in one industry can also lead to new jobs in other businesses. For example, every new auto manufacturing job supports nine additional jobs, from parts manufacturers to restaurant employees.
• Labor standards. Working conditions in some countries are not safe. Some do not have minimum age restrictions and allow young children to work long hours for very little money. The United States has strict labor laws that ensure safe working environments and child labor laws to keep young children out of factories.
• Manufacturing processes. The manufacturing processes in the U.S. are considerably more environmentally friendly than the processes in many foreign countries. It is not uncommon to find foreign products that were made using processes that dangerously pollute the air, soil, and water. The U.S. has a strong commitment to protecting the environment for future generations.
• Fair wages. Many foreign countries do not have minimum wage requirements or have wages that are too low. American workers are guaranteed fair pay for honest work.
• Independence. The decrease in manufacturing in the U.S. has made this country more dependent on outside sources, putting this country at a strategic disadvantage. Purchasing American-made items heightens independence for America.
• Trade deficit. The substantial trade deficit in the U.S. has contributed to increased borrowing from foreign countries at levels that cannot be sustained. Individual citizens may not have felt the effect of this yet, but they will if the debt continues to grow and affects the overall economy. In 2009, for example, the national trade deficit in the U.S. was a factor in the reduction in economic growth from four percent to three percent. Buying items made in the U.S. is one way to reduce this country’s large trade deficit, as well as support the American economy.
• Safety standards. Many foreign countries have extremely low product safety standards. For example, millions of toys are exported to the U.S. every year that contain dangerous levels of lead. When you buy American-made products, you are guaranteed to have items that meet U.S. consumer safety standards and protection laws.
• Political conflict. A number of popular items are produced in countries that do not have favorable relations with the United States. Choosing products made in America frees the U.S. from having to access materials and supplies from these countries.
• Conservation. When the U.S. purchases products made overseas, they must be shipped a considerable distance, typically over either the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans. Shipping these distances uses huge amounts of fuel and releases unnecessary emissions into the environment.
Patriotism alone is not the only reason to look to this country’s manufacturers. Quality, service, innovation, time-to-market, protecting the US economy and labor force all offer strong arguments for domestic production. Don’t just “look for the Union Label”, look for the “Made In USA” brand mark!
Foam PVC as an Alternative to Acrylic & Wood.
Why choose foam PVC instead of acrylic?
It is never surprising that most of Acrilex’s customers know us for our colored acrylic sheet and contact us when they are looking to create signs, graphics, furniture, or displays with colored plastic sheet. But what many don’t realize, is that colored sheet is readily available in other compositions of plastic aside from acrylic.
This is why the second most abundant colored material in our (and most other plastic distributor’s) inventory is expanded PVC, or foam PVC, which is also commonly referred to by trade names such as “Sintra”, “Komatex“, or “Celtec” to name a few.
What makes these products such a great alternative to acrylic are the properties which positively impact the cost, fabrication, lead time, and design capabilities, and fill requirements that acrylic can’t always fulfill.
Let’s begin the discussion first by pointing out that foam PVC is a light weight sheet material that has a closed cell structure inside the sheet and two smooth solid faces on either side of the sheet. A blowing agent is used during the extrusion process to produce the cellular structure, while the finish rollers on the extrusion equipment impart smooth, textured, or glossy surfaces. The end result is an extremely light weight, easy to finish sheet that uses less resin material and is produced on a continuous line that reduces the cost of production. This in turn allows for a very affordable product as well.
Currently, Acrilex stocks 13 colors (including white) of foam PVC in 3mm thickness and some in 6mm thickness as well. White and Black are available and in stock up to 25mm thick and are excellent choices for structural, decorative, and building applications where reduced cost, low weight (easy handling, shipping, and labor), flame retardance, (UL 94 – V0), and ease of fabrication with standard woodworking, plastic, or carpentry tools (and no specialized skills) are desirable.
Below is a video of how easily foam PVC can be fabricated by woodworkers. Filmed by Kommerling, the makers of Komatex brand expanded PVC, it’s not hard to understand why Komatex is so ideal for furniture and panel fabrication. As a fabricator myself, I especially like how the material cuts like a hot knife through butter and accepts all kinds of mechanical fasteners without the need to pre-drill or tap pilot holes. You also will not need to be concerned about the material fracturing, shattering or splitting during or post fastening.
While acrylic sheets are also easily machined in a fashion similar to foam pvc, acrylic is a much heavier, dense material, which can be more brittle and subject to damage from impact than PVC. Acrylic is also not a fire rated material, so if an application calls for a fire rated product, PVC is the better choice. Often times, more skilled labor or specialized skills are required for acrylic fabrication and installation…foam PVC…not so much. An “oops” with Foam PVC is often far less costly than in acrylic and usually more easily remedied. Other cost saving benefits of Komatex, Sintra, Celtec and other foam PVC sheets are the ability to silk screen, digitally print, paint, decorate and thermoform the sheets without the need to pre-treat the surfaces of the sheets or “pre-dry” the sheets prior to forming. While some of these properties are similar to acrylic sheets, PVC as a raw material tends to cost less, which makes it ideal for digitally printed signs, semi-permanent or temporary displays, affordable fixtures, and flame retardant finished products. The ability to accept paint or stain without primer or surface treatment also makes it a great alternative to wood. Exterior weatherability and increase UV resistance also add to the benefits of PVC vs. wood materials, and being plastic, Foam PVC will not be adversely affected by rain and moisture as wooden substrates would be.
Boat builders and sign makers also prefer foam PVC because of it’s light weight, resistance to damage from the elements, rigidity, and ease of fabrication, installation, and adhesion when laminated with high pressure laminates (ie: Formica), and with 13 standard colors to choose from, it is easy to find a product that is best suited for the application. Sign manufactures like the ease in which foam PVC sheet can be thermoformed for channel letters, fabricates like wood & foam urethane, and accepts paint, decals, ink and fasteners as readily as wood or paper.
The uses for foam PVC keep growing and the utility of the product make it an excellent choice for many applications. Contact Acrilex to find out if foam PVC is the right choice for your application!