Given that we manufacture our stainless steel micro mesh gutter guards in Pennsylvania, back in 2004 we researched if we qualified to be called a Made in the USA product.
We buy our aluminum from US producers of painted aluminum coil. The mills they use are all American facilities. We use a special glue made by a US company that gets heated to 375 degrees, then cools to a solid form almost instantly. All of our equipment was made by a US producer of roll forming machines. Lastly, we buy our custom woven stainless steel micro filter from a U.S. supplier of metal products. We thought we were a “shoe-in” for the Made in the USA name.
But here was the rub: the Bureau of Consumer Protection has very specific rules as to what qualifies for complying with the Made in the USA Standard. Here’s the key quote from the FTC:
The product’s final assembly or processing must take place in the U.S. The Commission then considers other factors, including how much of the product’s total manufacturing costs can be assigned to U.S. parts and processing, and how far removed any foreign content is from the finished product.
For us, there were no issues for us on the assembly or processing, we do that in Pennsylvania. But all stainless steel micro mesh gutter guards use a filter that, while it may be purchased domestically, gets manufactured overseas. And since the filter is such a critical component you’d never be able to say was far removed from the finished product of “stainless steel micro mesh gutter guards” (heck, you use that element to describe the type of gutter guard it is!), all stainless steel micro mesh gutter guards shouldn’t honestly tout to be made to the Made in the USA standard.
The stainless steel micro mesh gutter guards filter
Frankly, there is not a single US producer of fine or micro mesh stainless steel cloth. We’ve gone to most of the domestic companies that still weave in the US to see if they would work with us, but even they would have to source fine stainless steel cloth overseas.
The only country that produces this type of material is China. Looms are found in local farmhouses around a certain province there. When you’re dealing with threads of only a few microns in width, you can imagine the time it just takes to set up the loom. Each loom weaves a metal cloth about 4 feet wide and it takes several hours just to weave a foot. It can sometimes take up to four months to receive the cloth once you’ve placed an order for it. Most of the time is in the laborious weaving process.
Given the time and distance of sourcing and receiving the stainless steel micro mesh gutter guards filter, we have an even stronger reason to ensure it’s custom woven to the exact standards of the Higginbotham ratio. This ratio of thread size to threads per inch is a critical factor on how the cloth takes water and self cleans itself of oils, accepting a stock cloth just won’t work for our purposes.
So, while we’d love to say stainless steel micro mesh gutter guards like MasterShield are made in the USA, it’s better to err on the side of caution, particularly when a government organization like the Bureau of Consumer Protection has set such clear criteria.
That being said, MasterShield has been proudly manufactured in Pennsylvania since 2004.