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We all know what happens when you build a better metaphoric mousetrap, but one company has built a better real one, and awaits as the world beats a path to its door.

Clare Goldsberry

September 3, 2010

3 Min Read
Simpler mousetrap moves 
manufacturing back to the USA

We all know what happens when you build a better metaphoric mousetrap, but one company has built a better real one, and awaits as the world beats a path to its door.

If you’ve ever had a mouse in your house, you’ve probably also had a Victor Quick Set Mousetrap—the familiar wooden base with spring-loaded bar that traps the mouse when it goes for the bait. The new Victor Quick Set Mousetrap sports a redesign that brings manufacturing back to the USA from China, increases employment, and has a positive economic impact while decreasing the environmental impact.

Woodstream Corp. (Lititz, PA), a manufacturer of rodent control products, control products for pets and wildlife, natural solutions for lawns and gardens, and wild-bird-feeding products, invented the mousetrap in the 1800s and has been in business for more than 150 years. To make trapping mice and other rodents easier and more user friendly, the company redesigned its traps—enter the Victor Kill & Seal, a hygienic mousetrap that seals in the parasites that may be on the mouse, as well as body fluids.

Victor2mousetraps.jpg

The Victor Quick Set Mousetrap was redesigned so that bringing it from China to the U.S. for manufacture would be cost neutral and environmentally sound.

The Victor Quick Set trap, made in China since the 1980s, had a number of molded components, as well as metal parts that required extensive manual assembly operations. Julien Godbarge, category manager–rodent control for Woodstream, says that manufacturing the traps in the United States would increase the cost of certain components and increase labor costs as well.

Mathieu Turpault, director of design for product design firm Bresslergroup (Philadelphia, PA), met with Woodstream at the end of last year, and at that time the client mentioned manufacturing the Quick Set mousetrap in the United States. “They positioned it as a philosophical position and were trying to bring as much manufacturing back to the U.S. as possible,” says Turpault.  “However, because of the design and materials, the cost would increase.”

Godbarge adds that Woodstream wanted “to be as close to cost neutral throughout the change as possible.” Woodstream’s in-house molding capabilities were a big factor in returning manufacturing to the U.S.

There were three main considerations in the redesign, explains Turpault. First, Woodstream wanted to reduce cost and assembly. “[The original design] was a complex assembly and required too much time to put together,” says Turpault. “That meant it was not conducive to being manufactured in the U.S. because of the labor. So we had to reduce the number of parts, yet maintain the trap’s functionality.”

The change to quick assembly allowed for similar pricing to that achieved in China, Godbarge says. “We also changed the packaging—instead of blister pack we used a paperboard card. All of this allowed us to be fairly cost neutral.”

Second, these traps are bought mainly by women. Thus, they needed to be easy for women to use—“A more feminine killing machine, as it were,” explains Turpault. “They wanted to soften up the design and make it more appealing for women to use.”

And third, Woodstream wanted to create a sustainable design. Bresslergroup’s redesign created a smaller trap with fewer parts, and those components that were plastic were readily recyclable HDPE, unlike the Chinese version, and easy to separate from the metal.

The current version of the Victor Quick Set Mousetrap has two injection molded parts and two metal spring parts, Godbarge says. Additionally, the new version has a looser spring that’s less harmful to pets and children in case they touch the loaded trap.

The environmental impact of the move is significant. First, Woodstream has eliminated a million plastic blister packs a year in favor of an all-cardboard package. Second, 15 40-ft HC container trips from China have been eliminated, which reduces overall carbon emissions.

“Redesigning to engineer out costs and carbon impact is a major focus of our client work, across all industry categories,” says Turpault. “Making small changes can have a huge impact for consumers and the workforce.” —Clare Goldsberry

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

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