– How are “Pirate” car parts made?


I recently purchased some DEPO branded headlights for my car, because I was planning to cut them up to retrofit projectors.

Upon inspection I noticed that each component of the assembly was almost OEM apart from a few areas where plastic seemed to “leak” out of the mould.

I was curious as to how they are manufactured to the same shape and specifications as OEM if they had to use their own production techniques. Are these parts just manufactured using old OEM molds and dies?

In: Engineering

A decent amount of the time they’re made on the same molds and dies as the OEM parts. Some factory in China takes an order for 20,000 headlights from Ford, makes the tooling, makes the order, then files off the logos on the mold and runs off another 50,000 until the mold wears out.

Most of the big OEMs aren’t really interested in pursuing that sort of thing because it’s just seen as the cost of doing business in China.

They can be made from old molds if such are available. However the most common technique is to buy an OEM headlight and then make your own molds from that casting. These molds can be made to be almost as good as OEM or even better if they take some care in fixing all the casting errors during the transfers. The casting errors you notice might actually just be from them using cheaper materials for their molds so they wear out faster or just because they have not taken as much time to clean up the casting as the OEM parts have.

> Are these parts just manufactured using old OEM molds and dies?

Often yes. Not even necessarily old ones. They may be the same ones used in official production, but the manufacturer is just not exercising as much quality control in the stuff they’re shipping out to the pirate markets.