A common question we receive from customers is “where are your parts made?” This is a fair question and we are happy to share this information with our awesome customers. The truth is that we have many different products such as quartz/glass cuvettes, flow cytometry cells, NIST traceable spectrophotometer calibration standards, cuvette accessories, silicone tubing, vacuum flasks and the list goes on and on. We have 4 main products, listed below, and in this article I’m going to cover where our spectrophotometer cuvettes are made.
So take a few minutes to dive into the history of our spectrophotometer/fluorometer cuvettes.
Where FireflySci Cuvettes are Manufactured
Cuvettes are one our biggest items and we sell thousands of custom made and stock cuvettes a year. So our course it is only fair that you know where we make these parts. So drum roll please…… FireflySci cuvettes are made in China. I know what you’re thinking, “but I thought they were made here in the United States??” Well they’re not and to be perfectly honest they never have been made here.
So before you go down the, everything made in China is junk route, let’s look at why we have a very successful factory in China.
For starters, we own 50% of the factory in China so we are not just some middle man adding on a profit and reselling. This unique situation gives us better control over the whole cuvette manufacturing process as well as how our employees are treated.
Japanese Cuvette History
So there is a history of how we wound up buying into a Chinese factory. It all started when we were originally NSG Precision Cells. We had a joint venture partnership with a Japanese factory that made our cuvettes. We had this partnership since the 1980s and we had many visits to the factory to see how cuvettes were made, inspected, handled and shipped.
Over the years, cost of living, material, and labor went up. As our older customers know, NSG rarely raised prices over the years and eventually our Japanese partners came to us and said how we were losing money on manufacturing cuvettes. At this point we had a choice to make. It was either we give our customers a huge price hike or start manufacturing in China.
This was heartbreaking for us since we had so many companies, universities, private labs, etc. that relied on us for their cuvette needs. At first I thought just like everybody else, “This stuff is going to be crap.” And to be honest in the beginning it was! The fusing was awful. The optics were loaded with scratches and defects. And the parts were so dirty coming out of production, like you didn’t need a microscope to see the black dirt in the cuvette!
There was no way we could sell these sub-standard cuvettes to our customers so before we sold anything we had to make some major improvements.
Cuvette Manufacturing Improvements
We made many visits to our factory in China to help them improve their cuvette manufacturing techniques. This was a ton of work but over time we witnessed a dramatic improvement of the accuracy and precision of the parts that were coming out of our Chinese factory. After a few months, the parts had good fusing and were sparkling clean coming off the production line. Also the dimensions and tolerances were getting closer to where we needed them to be. After about 6 months it was almost impossible to tell the difference between a Chinese and Japanese cuvette.
Once we had the manufacturing techniques in place the next place to work on was the inspection process.
Inspection of Chinese Cuvettes
Once we had our cuvette production in order, we needed to get our inspection department built up. When we first started the inspectors were wearing thick gloves that were made it hard to handle the cuvettes. So we really needed to work from the bottom up on this. Even something as small as wearing the right type of gloves makes a difference in the inspection process.
We made sure that our workers had the best tools to measure the finished cuvettes and we made sure they had the proper training with these tools to ensure they didn’t damage the parts during inspection. Just a quick tip, if you squeeze a cuvette too tight in a pair of calipers you can crack the cuvette. We also made sure we had high quality eye loupes, microscopes, optical profilers and of course one of the most important inspection tools, good lighting.
We took great care to teach our techs how to find all types of possible defects in our glass and quartz cuvettes. Some common cuvette defects include:
Tolerances out of spec
Cuvette inspection is an intense job that consists of looking at hundreds of cuvettes a day under bright light. We go the extra step to make sure that each and every cuvette we manufacture is inspected by one of our certified technicians. We do not believe in cutting corners in any of the manufacturing/inspection process and it really shows in the final product.
As another note, our cuvette factory is ISO 9001 accredited which we are very proud of.
FireflySci is Not The Perfect Cuvette Manufacturer
Listen, we know we’re not perfect. We can’t always hit the tolerances and specs that our customers ask of us. Sometimes we’re late on delivery dates. We’re only human and we’re constantly working on improving our manufacturing processes. We take all the feedback from our customers to heart and we actually change as a result of it.
Well I hope you enjoyed reading about our cuvette history. If you have any questions or comments, hit us up in the comment section below or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s to your success!
The FireflySci Team