The Temperfect Mug: Greater than the sum of its parts

The parts we need to fulfill our pre-orders are wending their way across the sea, due to arrive at our door in early July. So let’s talk about what we do with them after they get here. We have been asked why, if most of the parts are made in China, do we assemble them in the United States?

For the lids, the answer is easy: they are made up of parts sourced in the US and China, and it would be a little silly for us to send some parts to China to be assembled and sent back to us.

As for the rest of the mug, the quick answer is that quality control is too important for us to outsource the final steps. But there’s more to it than that. What makes the Temperfect mug unique is that it uses two layers of insulation: on the outside is a layer of vacuum insulation which prevents your precious coffee-heat (or tea-heat) escaping to the environment, and on the inside is a layer of Temperfect insulation which captures the excess heat and puts it back into your coffee as needed.

The conflicting needs of these two insulation layers make manufacturing difficult. The processing for the vacuum insulation requires very high temperatures (up to 600°C, or 1100°F). The Temperfect insulation, a wax-like material, likes it cooler--no more than 100°C. How do we reconcile these two requirements? That's part of our know-how, and it's kept as a trade secret. This is one reason we do part of the assembly of our mugs in our own factory in the US.

The mug bodies are assembled and vacuum insulated in a specialized factory in China, but insertion of the Temperfect insulation can be tricky and requires a lot of care. We prefer to do that closer to home to reduce errors and ensure the finished mug is up to our high standards.

In addition, assembly gives us a chance to provide some jobs in the US. For many of our parts, particularly the mug bodies, we currently have no choice but to have them made overseas because that’s where the specialized factories are. But we do have a choice for the assembly, and we choose to support our community at home.

Our previous assembly and shipping facility was small and output topped out at about a hundred mugs per day at our peak last fall. When our new parts arrive, they will be assembled in a bigger facility in Louisburg, NC, where we can turn the parts into Temperfects more quickly. In addition to being bigger, the new factory has the necessary material-handling equipment and is run by an experienced factory manager. When our parts arrive there in a few weeks it will be ready to turn them into Temperfect mugs and start shipping them to our long patient pre-order customers.