Choosing the right CNC Machining company in China
Jun 30, 2020
As a global leader in manufacturing, China has become a key player in the CNC machining world. Today, there are numerous CNC machining and rapid prototyping shops and services based in China which serve not only local manufacturing markets but the larger global industry. With so many options out there, however, it can be difficult for international businesses to assess and choose the best Chinese rapid prototyping provider for their needs. Fortunately, there are a number of helpful factors that can help when choosing the right CNC machining company in China to work with.
Why work with an external CNC machine shop?
First, it is worthwhile to look at why a business should consider working with an external CNC machine or rapid prototyping service in the first place. One of the key reasons that companies turn to external manufacturers is machine cost. State-of-the-art CNC machine systems, post-processing systems and other industrial equipment are extremely costly—often prohibitively so for small or medium-sized businesses. By working with an external CNC machine shop, businesses can leverage the benefits of industrial machining technologies without having to invest significant capital in the expensive hardware.
In addition to circumventing high equipment costs, businesses that work with CNC machine companies save on labor and training costs. That is, CNC machining is a complex process that requires specialized training to operate, meaning that companies working with the technology in house must have highly skilled, CNC-trained operators in their workforce. By outsourcing CNC machining jobs to a specialized service, companies can exploit the benefits of the technology without incurring labor and training costs associated with the process.
Beyond reducing investment costs, working with a dedicated manufacturing partner will result in higher-quality parts, since an established provider of rapid prototyping services already has the tools and experience to handle complex projects. Even if you think you can afford to invest in equipment, labor and training, it may still be years before your workforce has the skills of an established machine shop.
There is also a kind of safety net when you work with an external CNC machining shop. If you make your own machined parts and they turn out badly, all of that scrap material, energy cost and lost time comes at your own expense. On the other hand, if your CNC machining partner encounters some kind of manufacturing error — it doesn’t happen often, but it can! — it is up to them to restart the job, and you will not be billed for the time or scrap material.
Why work with a CNC machine shop in China?
Choosing to work with a rapid prototyping company in China reinforces and adds to the benefits of working with an external CNC machining service provider. Compared to most western manufacturing companies, Chinese rapid prototyping services such as RapidDirect offer substantially lower prices thanks to a number of factors, including low raw material costs, low labor costs and thin profit margins.
Better still, factors traditionally seen as disadvantages of outsourcing to China are becoming less and less relevant. Improved communication via the internet means businesses can keep track of their machined parts as easily as if they were just next door. And rapid machining services coupled with fast delivery options mean fast turnarounds despite the geographical distance. China has also taken dramatic steps to improve its intellectual property laws, which means customers can feel confident handing their designs over to a Chinese machine shop for production.
Finally, China is becoming increasingly dominant in the CNC machining and rapid prototyping markets because of the quality of its production services. Despite lower labor costs in the country, the level of skill in the manufacturing sector—and especially CNC machine operating—is high. In other words, the lower cost of production is not an indication of lower quality parts.
Still, despite these general benefits of working with a China-based CNC machining company, there are a number of elements that can help customers sift through and choose which rapid prototyping shop to work with.
How to choose the right CNC machining shop in China
Below are a number of important factors that can help you and your business find the right CNC machining partner in China.
When exploring outsourcing options for rapid prototyping and production, one of the most important things in choosing a manufacturing partner is checking their certifications to see if they align with the type of product you are seeking to produce. If, for instance, a customer is ordering a part for the medical industry, the CNC machine shop should have the appropriate certifications and stringent quality control processes needed for the healthcare industry.
In a similar vein, it is important to establish what quality control equipment and processes a CNC machining service offers, including raw material inspection, in-process quality checks, finished part inspection and outgoing quality control. A CNC machining company that provides a comprehensive and state-of-the-art quality control workflow will ensure that your prototypes and products are up to the highest standard.
As mentioned above, one of the previous challenges of western companies working with China-based rapid prototyping and manufacturing companies has been communication. And though the internet has made it significantly easier for international customers to keep in close contact with Chinese manufacturers, it is still important to establish a good rapport with a company before diving into a manufacturing partnership.
At RapidDirect, for instance, we make sure to speak with our prospective clients to guarantee there is a clear understanding of the project at hand. Additionally, not only will we work transparently with our clients to complete production, but our experts will also help to optimize and improve products and manufacturing where possible.
This next point may seem obvious but is still worth highlighting. If you are searching for a Chinese rapid prototyping company to work with, be sure to check that it has the right hardware and production capabilities to fulfil your order, including CNC milling and turning machines, multi-axis machining systems and more. In addition to production hardware, ensure that the company is familiar with and works with the type of material you require, whether it is a metal, plastic or other.
Order a prototype
Lastly, to ensure that a prospective CNC machining company in China can meet the quality requirements for a specific part or product, it is advisable to first order a prototype of the part. At no big expense to the client, a prototype will enable them to check that a particular CNC machining company is able to produce the part up to certain standards and in good time. At RapidDirect, we guarantee that prototypes are machined and delivered within just three days, so that clients can quickly decide to move ahead with an order.
Take a tour
This is obviously not a viable option for many customers, but if you are serious about starting a long-term relationship with a Chinese CNC machining shop, you might decide to visit prospective partners at their local facilities. Meeting machinists and engineers can be a good way to decide if you will enjoy a productive partnership, and this also gives you the opportunity to discuss your project requirements in greater detail.
Regional competitors: Vietnam and beyond
Finding prototype CNC machining services in China is an established practice for businesses in Western countries. But some companies, especially in recent years, have cast the net wider, finding manufacturing partners in other Asian nations such as Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. So what’s stopping you looking for rapid prototyping services in these countries too?
It’s true that several manufacturers in these countries offer very cheap CNC machining services, largely thanks to the low labor costs in certain regions. While China also has low labor costs compared to, for example, the USA and Europe, it is eclipsed by a country like Indonesia, whose average income is less than half that of China. In principle, this can lead to cheaper parts and services for the customer.
It can be tempting to go with the cheapest rapid prototyping services you can find — and this may be in a country like Indonesia or Taiwan. However, you may end up selling yourself short due to weaker supply chains and inferior quality parts and services. China, meanwhile, has developed into a well-established and reliable area for prototype CNC machining services that is yet to be beaten on balance of quality and price.
Based in China ourselves, RapidDirect knows how to quote CNC work fairly and accurately, giving you an excellent price without compromising on quality.
Q: Won’t it take a long time to receive parts from China?
A: You might be surprised at the efficiency of Chinese manufacturing partners. Large manufacturing facilities coupled with large workforces mean your CNC machined parts can be made in a short period of time. And a company like RapidDirect offers multiple shipping options — including worldwide priority post via services like DHL, Fedex and UPS — which means you parts may arrive sooner than parts from a local service with low productivity.
Q: Is it risky to share trade secrets with a Chinese company?
A: Stricter state regulation has made it safe to work with manufacturers in China, who would face serious legal penalties for mishandling your private information. RapidDirect never shares your information without consent, and we encourage the use of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), which serves as a binding contract between customer and manufacturer and ensures that your designs are only seen by people working on your parts.
Q: How would I keep track of the project?
A: There may be an element of opacity with some Chinese manufacturers, but RapidDirect allows you to keep tabs on our prototype CNC machining services once an order has been placed. Order status updates are provided on our online platform, and you can even see images of your parts as they are being made.