If you are like us, you want to know where the products that you buy are made. The country of origin matters to different people for different reasons. For some, the primary concern is material quality and craftsmanship. For others, the primary concern is social sustainability. If you are evaluating safety enclosures for your industrial process or shielding solutions for your testing procedure, and you want to find a truly Made in the USA product, please keep reading.
TotalShield is an American company, and our customer base is primarily aerospace, defense, and industrial companies based in the USA. We manufacture all of our products in the United States, and we source our materials from American suppliers. We are proud to create jobs in the US and support the local economy by using US-based suppliers.
Many companies pay lip service to “Made in the USA,” but at TotalShield, we live this commitment and are proud to demonstrate just how seriously we take the Made in America ethos.
Made in the USA Polycarbonate Blast-Resistant Shielding Room
Let’s discuss a real-world example of a TotalShield product and how it is truly a Made in the USA product.
Our product life cycle begins when a customer contacts our staff at our Gainesville, Virginia facility. Our engineers work with the customer to determine the appropriate ballistic or explosive containment level required to protect that customer’s staff from harm. We collaborate with the customer to determine the correct sizing of the polycarbonate blast room, using our proprietary designs, testing archive, and a 20-year history of designing similar structures to develop an appropriate shielding room that works for the customer’s unique needs.
In the case of a ballistic-resistant or explosive-resistant room, some of the most important factors are the configuration of the structural members –made from steel and aluminum, and the thickness of the polycarbonate panels.
When we have customer approval for the polycarbonate blast room specifications, we contact our suppliers and subcontractors to begin sourcing the components of the product.
We utilize a local plastics supplier to source and cut the polycarbonate panels, who in turn source the polycarbonate from a manufacturer in Sheffield, Massachusetts. We use US manufacturers for these materials because not all polycarbonate is manufactured to the same specifications, and we demand exacting levels of quality and product handling. This includes specialty coatings and polycarbonate formulation guaranteed to have consistent performance under ballistic impact and explosive force. The polycarbonate sheets are shipped to our facility in Gainesville, Virginia.
We also create steel and aluminum framing specifications using our proprietary framing technology and have these components extruded, rolled, cut, and powder coated by our US suppliers located in California. These components are also shipped to our facility in Virginia.
Once the materials arrive in Virginia, they are inspected for quality. Our team then assembles the sub-components of the explosive-resistant shield room. These sub-components are largely made up of individual framed panels. We also pre-assemble unique framing elements such as doors and label the components for easy assembly.
Finally, we use a local subcontractor to design and assemble a crating system to protect and transport the shielding room to the customer site. At the customer site, a local subcontractor will do the final assembly and installation of the shield room.
Manufacturing All Our Blast-Resistant Products in the USA
Our focus on American suppliers and subcontractors is consistent for all our products. For example, the Kevlar we use in our ballistic blankets is sourced from a manufacturer that has been weaving aramid fibers for over 40 years in the USA. All of the products that go into the ballistic blanket are cut, assembled, and stitched in the USA.
Quality Over Price
It might be cheaper to source outside the USA.
However, there are risks to this strategy that outweigh the benefits. One of the primary risks is substitution and defect risk. Our products are engineered to protect people from a potentially catastrophic and deadly failure. Our designs and calculations are based on testing data performed using materials with known and certified performance characteristics.
Materials suppliers in low-cost jurisdictions often will substitute materials or manufacturing processes without adequately communicating those changes to customers. In the case of polycarbonate, for example, if a supplier substituted an input material, a coating, or a finishing process without communicating that to TotalShield, the panel may fail to perform on impact adequately.
The risks for TotalShield and our customers are too significant. Rather than sourcing from the lowest cost producer, we prefer to work with long-term suppliers who guarantee the quality of their products, who can be trusted not to make substitutions, and who operate in an environment with a strict rule of law.
Other Advantages to a Made in the USA Strategy
A Made in the USA strategy provides us with the following benefits:
- High-Quality: All of the materials we use at TotalShield must be manufactured, finished, and handled using exacting quality standards, and our experience has shown us that American suppliers excel in this area.
- Speed: Because our suppliers are domestic and located in the continental United States, we do not experience the delays associated with international freight, port congestion, and global disruptions.
- Faster Replacements: In the rare event that we need a replacement part from a supplier due to a defect or damage in shipping, we can secure replacements much faster than with non-domestic suppliers.
- Flexibility: Our customers often need custom solutions or unique components to address their specific use case. For example, a customer designing a ballistic-resistant shield room may need custom framing and mounts to install fans or lighting. We can design and manufacture these custom parts in collaboration with our domestic partners in a more streamlined fashion than with international suppliers.
- Sustainability: By using American suppliers and partners, we are investing in our country, our fellow citizens, and our society.