Managing wood is not easy, as each type of wood is different, with structural limits and specific tolerances that the manufacturer must know and respect.
When designing wooden toothbrushes, in particular, the ability of the wood maker is essential to guarantee precise, durable, and comfortable products.
Let’s discuss this topic in the following article.
Wooden toothbrush manufacturing: how to identify the best producer?
Offering wooden oral care products in your catalogue is a good idea to gain a competitive edge in today’s increasingly competitive market.
Especially after the pandemic emergency, people are more prone to buy sustainable products. Many studies, in fact, have found that consumers are more concerned today than before COVID-19 about environmental issues, and they look for a stronger connection with nature.
Wooden products are the best way to bring nature into the house with their many benefits for your well-being, as we discussed in this article.
When you decide to offer wooden toothbrushes and oral care products, choosing a competent manufacturer requires careful evaluation of various aspects (you can click the link to read the paragraph that interests you):
- The codesign process
- Wood collection and preparation
- The production phase
- Possibilities of customization
- Quality control
The codesign process
The design phase is crucial to create oral care objects, e.g., toothbrushes, interdentals, dental floss containers, tongue cleaners, and toothpicks, that correspond to clients’ requirements and standards.
Either starting from a sketch, a physical sample, or a concept, your partner must be ready to cooperate with you to improve the various aspects of your products to ensure the highest quality and performance.
Designing wooden products is not like managing plastic. You should know, in fact, that:
- Nature has many wood essences, each with different structural limits and tolerances that must be considered during the design phase. The supplier should be able to select the right type of wood for each specific product; this can significantly influence cost, performance, and appearance of the final product.
- Sometimes, wooden blocks may have certain standard dimensions; to optimize the material, the supplier may suggest the right modification to fit the most convenient raw material available in the market.
- The shape coming from plastic molding design might be hard to replicate; the manufacturer should be able to simulate even the most difficult drawing without disturbing the concept and the general feeling of the original project.
Choosing a competent wood maker is necessary to get the oral care products you and your clients want.
Consider that a reliable supplier should always begin the start-up meeting with a visit in a virtual or physical showroom for inspiration and brainstorming.
Then, starting from the design constraints analysis, you should receive a full prospect of the investment required, an estimate of the price, realistic prototypes of the final product, and a 3D design.
Only a specialized supplier with deep experience in solid wood processing and cutting-edge software solutions can provide unmatched consulting services to its clients during the design stage and before moving to full production.
Wood collection and preparation
As discussed before, people today are more concerned about environmental issues than ever before and are more prone to buy sustainable items. Switching from a traditional plastic toothbrush to a wooden one is the easiest way to reduce their use of plastic.
A sustainable raw material, however, (as wood naturally is) is not enough.
The supplier you choose must pay great attention to illegal logging, deforestation, and global warming:
- FSC-certified timber proves that it is collected following all the rules as well as the standards of environmental and forestry protection imposed by the market.
- Compliance with EUTR 995 and the Lacey Act demonstrates that the raw material placed on the European and USA market respectively is traced, legally harvested, and doesn’t come from any area of risk.
- Using fast-growing timber (e.g., beech, hornbeam, maple, ash, and birch), water-based finishings, and reusing scraps to create smaller objects ensure great attention to sustainability and reduction of the carbon footprint.
If your supplier has production plants and sawmills where most wood is gathered, it means they can limit the impact of transportation and the overall process on the environment not to mention that a shorter supply chain offers better competition.
To ensure perfect and top-quality products, it is also essential that the raw material is carefully prepared. The drying process is especially important to guarantee the ideal moisture content to get a clean milling process, higher dimensional stability, and less probability of breakage.
Being able to perform the drying process internally rather than outsourcing is an essential advantage in quality and longevity of the final product.
Therefore, you should verify that the manufacturer you select has in-house, state-of-the-art drying chambers. Each chamber should have a built-in control unit with heating, spraying, dehumidification, and an air circulation system, with the possibility of adjusting them according to the starting moisture content and type of wood to treat.
Depending on the object, the moisture must be brought down to a given humidity level, usually from 8% to 12%; however, there are some exceptions where lower or higher moisture content is needed.
A team of experts must be steadily assigned to this duty, as each batch has its own features that must be considered before processing.
Having an in-house drying chamber also allows the manufacturer to treat batches of wood of the same size as the batch they need to manufacture. This means they can prepare just the needed material on demand, avoiding storing unused wood for very long.
This leads to higher productivity at a lower cost.
The production phase
Manufacturing wooden oral care products requires specific machines, software, tools, and competency to guarantee:
- accuracy of production
- competitive prices
- high production capacity
- short lead time
Most manufacturers around the world use multipurpose production equipment to manufacture toothbrushes among other items, so it would be important to select a manufacturer that has developed a dedicated production line to fit the specific purpose of manufacturing oral care items.
In this way, it will be able to offer accurate predrilled toothbrush heads.
It means that you won’t have any problem in tufting your handles, and if you wish a specific hole field pattern that challenges the strength of the toothbrush, it will be able to supply it.
If the company you select has a competent planning department, they could monitor production at each stage, which is essential for accurate cost estimation during the pilot phase, comprehensive management of overall production lead time, and being able to react timely to any inconvenience that may occur.
Possibilities of customization
Your clients will expect you to offer a wide range of finishing options, paintings, and varnishes as well as the possibility to create complicated and ergonomic shapes and to brand their toothbrush handles.
If you select an international company, they should be able to provide any kind of finish, including water-based lacquers created with ingredients derived from recycled materials and renewable sources that have less of an impact on the environment compared with petroleum products.
Regarding oral care objects, you should also consider that they come in contact with the mouth, gums, and the oral mucosa. Therefore, the surface must be smooth and safe.
Wooden toothbrushes and other oral care items should undergo a natural process free from chemicals that makes them free from splinters.
This process must be painstaking, so it may take a few hours to create perfect products respecting wood fibers. Then, each object must be coated with a special FDA-approved formula that seals the fibers and provides antibacterial and water-repellent properties.
Only after this treatment can you can apply the finish you prefer.
A competent manufacturer will be able to customize your toothbrushes with top-notch laser technology, creating the logo on top of the handle or some deco and grip all around the handles. Different from silk-screening or hot stamping, laser technology doesn’t need any ink or added chemical, making it more eco-compatible.
Many producers still use pyrography or hot molding on wood. Today, the most innovative wood makers use anthropomorphic laser robots, which are able to adapt to each shape with radial movements and different engraving depths.
You will be able to recognize a competent and reliable producer by the quality controls it performs. Each handle must be checked for:
- dimensional and functional aspect (size and shape)
- milling accuracy (missing parts, dents, splinters, and breakage)
- morphological defects (open knots and heavy discoloration)
All toothbrushes should be individually checked with sophisticated automatic systems of infrared video cameras and tailor-made artificial intelligence algorithms. This can guarantee continuous monitoring of the process with data collection and analysis, providing real-time visualization and dedicated reporting compliant with Industry 4.0 regulations.
By following this procedure, you can ensure products that meet all customer specifications and expectations.
Only a technologically advanced wood manufacturing company that invests a lot of time and money to get the newest machinery and systems and is based on automation, interconnectivity, machine learning, and real-time data can provide top-quality and cost-effective wooden toothbrushes and oral care products.
At Minelli S.p.A., we use only the latest generation of customized and made-for-purpose CNC machines with three and five axes that provide consistent dimensional and finishing results even at a very high production volume.
We have in-house drying chambers and quality control systems with auto-learn function to guarantee the highest-quality products.
Finally, we always try to apply the principles of a circular economy model.Thanks to our scrap management system, we reuse scraps derived from production of other objects, e.g., cutting boards, knife chops, or bath brushes, to create wooden blocks that are carefully stocked for future production of smaller items, such as oral care objects.
Besides this, we have developed our own Manufacturing Execution System (MES) that makes Minelli S.p.A. fully connected.
If you need further information, our team is at your service: do not hesitate to contact us!