It’s particularly popular during times of recession (or economic recovery) to want to buy products with the Made in the USA label, to support our local economies, our neighbors, our friends. But what does “Made in the USA” mean in a global economy?
The Federal Trade Commission says:
For a product to be called Made in USA, or claimed to be of domestic origin without qualifications or limits on the claim, the product must be “all or virtually all” made in the U.S. The term “United States,” as referred to in the Enforcement Policy Statement, includes the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories and possessions.
“Virtually all” means that all significant parts and processing must be made in in the USA and the final assembly must take place in the US for the “Made in the USA” label to comply with FTC regulations. If you want even more details about what “Made in the USA” means, read “Complying with the Made in USA Standard” article on the FTC website.
In today’s global economy, it’s not always possible to find Made in the USA products. A great example in the welding industry is tungsten electrodes for TIG and Plasma Arc Welding.
First thing to consider is that there are no tungsten mines in the U.S. Almost all the world’s tungsten comes from Russia and China and at present there is no manufacturing of tungsten electrodes in the United States. But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality… You’ll find all you need to know about choosing tungsten electrodes for your welding application in our white paper Choosing Tungsten Electrodes (.pdf)
But what about Sylvania Tungsten?
Until recently (December 2012) the folks that brought you the light bulb, also manufactured tungsten electrodes for welding– first under the Sylvania brand, and then under the GTP label. You may find some stock still available, mostly in the less common diameters, but that will soon be gone.
Focus on Quality Tungsten Electrodes
In regards to tungsten electrodes, it’s important to do business with a trusted supplier. At Arc-Zone.com, for example, we inspect every piece of tungsten for consistency— we do a roll test and make sure the painted end is not flaking. Read about our five-point inspection in this article, “What’s the difference.”
The TIG torches we carry at Arc-Zone.com are manufactured by Weldcraft and CK Worldwide–two innovators in the development of the TIG welding torch. While both these companies may utilize parts made in other parts of the world, both also are committed to quality manufacturing and assembly. You can buy cheaper, but the Weldcraft and CK Worldwide brands means quality, and a quality TIG torch means a quality weld. We wrote a long post on the difference between TIG torch manufacturing a while back, “TIG Torch Materials: What’s the Difference” covering everything from the kind of copper used to silicone vs. plastic, and fittings–the areas where low-end manufacturers cut costs, and quality.
Interestingly, some manufacturing is coming back from overseas as companies find that the promised benefits and savings weren’t realized. Read about the phenomenon in this article “The Economic Impact of ‘Made in the USA’“
Bottom line is that no matter where your products are made, make sure you buy the quality product you need to Weld Like a PRO by working with trusted suppliers and manufacturers that are committed to quality.