The American Mold Builders Association released its 2021 Shop Rate Report — a first-time deep dive into the charges for engineering, mold making and specialty services.
AMBA's report also covers current and anticipated capacities, company demographics and sales information.
Representatives from 83 U.S. mold manufacturers in 21 states, primarily in the Midwest, responded to the call for data to provide an overview of services that are so important to plastics processors.
Mold costs typically range from $25,000 for prototype tooling to $500,000 or more for complex tooling for high cavitation.
Of the charge rates studied, the two services that drew the highest rates on average are mold flow simulation and mold sampling at $96 an hour and $99 an hour, respectively.
Polishing averaged the lowest rate of $78 an hour, just ahead of surface grinding at $79 an hour.
The publication of AMBA's 2021 Shop Rate Report couldn't be more relevant for the industry than at this moment, according to Rachael Pfenninger, AMBA's director of strategic execution.
"As U.S. mold manufacturers struggle more than ever with foreign competition and the ever-growing skills gap and labor shortage, finding other ways to compete is becoming more and more critical," she said in an email. "It's exciting that, with the help of our Benchmarking Committee, we've been able to not only publish never-before-gathered data that will help AMBA members maintain a competitive advantage, but in just a few years we'll have access to valuable industry trends as we track this data biennially."
AMBA plans to conduct the survey every two years.
In 2021, most respondents — 89 percent — identified new mold and die builds as their primary source of revenue. More than half — 58 percent — reported their average gross margin was 14 percent or less while the remaining respondents were split between the following ranges: 15-19 percent, 20-24 percent and 25 percent or more.
Seventy-eight percent of the survey takers primarily serve the automotive industry followed by the medical/optical/dental industry at 58 percent and the consumer products industry at 49 percent. Three-quarters of respondents report primarily building plastic injection molds. Nearly half indicated that the average size of their molds are built for the 250- to 499-ton press range.
On average, mold manufacturers reported a current utilization rate of 74 percent.
Companies in the $5 million to $9.9 million sales range reported the most positive outlook. Indianapolis-based AMBA says anticipated capacity is expected to rise an average of 5 percent through the end of the year to 81 percent.
Companies in the $1 million to $2.49 million expect to remain at a capacity utilization of 69 percent.
Respondents also provided insight into whether they offered commission on mold sales to their sales staff. The survey indicates that a majority of mold manufacturers (74 percent) don't offer commission on mold sales to their sales staff.
However, Pfenninger said it is worth noting that the 21 percent of respondents who do distribute commissions reported a higher-than-average capacity utilization of 81 percent.
The full 2021 report provides additional information on more than 20 individual charge rates, charge rate breakdowns by annual sales revenue and the top three primary industries served. The report costs $149 for AMBA members and $1,499 for nonmember survey takers.
"Because of the proprietary nature of the information, nonmembers who didn't participate will not be able to purchase the final report," Pfenninger said.