AliExpress Opinions

matthewsx

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For those who aren't aware, automation isn't limited to the physical world. My field, computer and network administration has changed radically in the 25 years since I started. Now almost all of the tasks once done by humans have been converted to scripts and code so one admin can do the job where it used to take dozens.

Those of us with hobbies will be in much better shape when our robot overlords finally wrestle the last job away from humans ;)

John
 

Winegrower

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MrWhoopee, good observations. Also, and importantly, the US is not a leader in automation, so we are currently competing against lower cost labor and superior manufacturing automation. And on top of that, we are losing design capability as manufacturing and component engineering has moved out of the US. In general, if you don’t know how to make the current generation, you don’t know how to design the next generation.
 

macardoso

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Well, I certainly opened up the proverbial can of worms:)

I appreciate all the insight from you guys. I am an interesting mixture of opinions on the matter. If my only option were to buy domestic, I would have never been able to get into this hobby. I have done good work with tools of modest cost and quality, but as many I would certainly love to have better name brand equipment. I have purchased full price, and through legitimate suppliers, a small number of genuine quality tools like a Mitutoyo digital micrometer, calipers, an Interapid tenths indicator, etc. I cherish these tools and use them often. But the reality is that for 90% of what I do, I am limited by my spending to look overseas.

I have found, for the most part, the import products to be plenty passable for the functions they perform. I feel no reason to steer clear of them. I do approach any purchase of complicated equipment (VFD for example) or precision measuring equipment with a grain of salt since I know there are issues with manuals and reliability.

I too hate the presence of automation in the consumer space. A particular pet-peeve of mine is the restaurants with the LCD console that you can use to pay (and will happily play you ads all meal long). I've been to a few nicer restaurants which do this now. Automation tends to displace lower paying jobs towards more white collar programming jobs (and loses quite a few in the process).
 

mattthemuppet2

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I tried buying some carbide boring bars of Aliexpress before the pandemic hit and the sellers were immediately "so sorry, item out of stock, please cancel". I said I'd be happy waiting, which was a mistake as they then went on the whole fake shipping and tracking number, fake delivery and fake return of item "so sorry, item returned, please cancel". I did get my money back, but now the items I wanted are a fair bit more expensive.

Also ordered a couple of USB chargers to install in the rear of the car (the drill a hole and thread a collar on behind type). Both lit up, only one works. No response from seller. Still worked out the same as buying one off Amazon, just have to take the center console apart to see if the duff one can be fixed or hacked.

I'm very leery of buying from small no-name stores that pop up like mushrooms (one was actually called "Mush-room store"). They don't care if they suck, they don't have any reputation to uphold. They simply advertise items at the lowest price and when they get an order they have to source it from somewhere else. If they can't do so and make a profit, it's "so sorry.." time.

I wouldn't hesitate to buy from Shenzen DRO or any of the other well established vendors on there though.
 

Aaron_W

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Well, I certainly opened up the proverbial can of worms:)

I appreciate all the insight from you guys. I am an interesting mixture of opinions on the matter. If my only option were to buy domestic, I would have never been able to get into this hobby. I have done good work with tools of modest cost and quality, but as many I would certainly love to have better name brand equipment. I have purchased full price, and through legitimate suppliers, a small number of genuine quality tools like a Mitutoyo digital micrometer, calipers, an Interapid tenths indicator, etc. I cherish these tools and use them often. But the reality is that for 90% of what I do, I am limited by my spending to look overseas.

I have found, for the most part, the import products to be plenty passable for the functions they perform. I feel no reason to steer clear of them. I do approach any purchase of complicated equipment (VFD for example) or precision measuring equipment with a grain of salt since I know there are issues with manuals and reliability.

I too hate the presence of automation in the consumer space. A particular pet-peeve of mine is the restaurants with the LCD console that you can use to pay (and will happily play you ads all meal long). I've been to a few nicer restaurants which do this now. Automation tends to displace lower paying jobs towards more white collar programming jobs (and loses quite a few in the process).
You can always upgrade.

For some items even the cheap stuff isn't so cheap, and for those I try to just bite the bullet and buy the good stuff (vises, boring heads etc), but otherwise I do the same as you. Buy cheap to get me started, then buy better when I can, if I need too. Some of the no name Chinese and Indian stuff really isn't bad, like the dividing head mentioned earlier. I bought one from Precision Matthews a few months ago for a fraction of the cost of a used vintage US made one. It seems to be very well made and probably more accurate than my abilities. I do try to buy from US based sellers even if it is imported stuff, I've never had an issue with one of them unlike some of the horror stories from those who bought direct. For me paying an extra $50 on a $300 item to have a reputable seller to go back to is worth it, plus I find those I've dealt with tend not to stock the bottom of the barrel.

I just got a Wilton vise direct from Wilton (through Amazon) which was made in India. I'd be very curious to see how it compares to one of the very similar no name Indian vises I see all over ebay. I wouldn't be surprised if the only difference is the no names don't say Wilton on them. I got the Wilton for roughly the same price that the no names sell for on ebay, but I'd be a little put out if I paid $300 and then find out that the $100 clone is just as good.


Like you the biggest issue to me with the import stuff is the inconsistency, some is quite good, some is barely worth the walk to the trash can.

By being patient, I've found some good quality used tooling at cheap import prices.


On the auto check outs, I thought it was interesting. The local Costco just added some self check out lines and they made a point of saying that they had hired a couple of extra people to monitor them. I guess it is getting through to some businesses that people don't like seeing the checker put out of work by automation. Costco is using them like express lanes for the people with just a few items so they don't get stuck behind that guy with 3 carts when they just want to buy a case of pot pies and a flat of sodas.

Home depot here has gone full auto except for the contractor desk and they only have like 2 people to help with like 8 auto check outs which really stinks when you are buying a handful of nuts, cut wire or other things that only a checker can input. HD is the most convenient for me, but now depending on what I need I will often drive the extra 10-15 minutes to go to Tractor Supply or one of the other hardware stores.
 

7milesup

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Interesting points about self check outs. I personally love them and will go to one of those over a manned check out at places like Walmart and such. The local Menards is a mixed bag for me. There is one cashier that I will absolutely not go through her line, even if she is the only one open. I will circle the doughnut rack until someone else opens up. But, after building our new house over the last year, there are cashiers that I would almost consider friends and really enjoy talking to them.
Speaking of Menards, anyone have feedback on their Masterforce line. I can't figure out who makes that stuff. I probably would never buy a Masterforce product that needed electrons to run, but I have a few of their hand tools and they seem to be very well made. I have had one of their hammers for a number of years and it is my favorite.
 

markba633csi

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I like Aliexpress for small stuff. I think I got burned only once, ordered two small items and got one; they made a dollar off me.
I just got two digital temp controllers with dual readouts for 3$ each. They work great.
-Mark
 

Janderso

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I buy most of my Chinese carbide bits and bit holders from AliE, Banggood or eBay.
I'm going to try Bangood for end mills. They seem to have good reviews. HSS only.
I've found carbide to be so darn brittle, a little chatter and the teeth get chipped.
I'm learning, the process is expensive.
 

Janderso

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Most of us are old enough to remember when Japanese products were the cheap stuff that was stealing American jobs, then Taiwan, now China and India. As the labor force matures expectations (then wages) rise. The workers want to be able to buy the products they are making. Production then moves to the next cheap source of labor. The pool of available labor is huge in China and India, but the same forces are at work.

[/RantMode=On]
The thing that is frequently overlooked is that automation is taking those jobs too, probably in greater numbers. The product that used to require the labor of 5 people in the U.S. now requires the labor of 1 person and several robots in China. This eliminates all of the messy complications and expenses associated with human workers, and it's much easier to move automated production than to train a new workforce. Here in the U.S., ongoing automation has been continuously reducing the requirement for skilled labor, resulting in the long-term wage stagnation we have experienced over the last 30 or 40 years. We are now at the point where semi-skilled jobs that cannot be off-shored are being automated. In the world of the average consumer, it started with ATM machines. Now it is self-checkout at big box and grocery stores. Coming soon (already here in some places) are ordering kiosks at fast-food places.

For myself, I have never used an ATM. In the beginning this was not an ethical/moral decision, it was just a simple way to control my spending. When self-checkout appeared at HD, I loved it, being able to get out the door much more quickly. Having since recognized the long-term implications, I no longer use them. I recently found myself in HD, needing some small item. When I got to the checkout, the only manned register was the contractor checkout and it had a long line. I put my item down on one of the self-checkouts, drove to Lowes and bought it there. I emailed HD corporate and told them of my experience, pointing out that when all of the jobs have been eliminated the computers that took those jobs will not be shopping in their stores. I'm sure it fell on deaf ears.
[/RantMode=Off]
Rant continued....
My electrician son is 34. He makes more than I do and I'm in management at a Ford dealer.
The skilled work force that builds our airports, warehouses, shopping malls etc. are getting well paid. He is working on a new hanger at the San Jose airport in California. Prevailing wage is $96 an hour. His boss is putting the crew up in a rented house.
The guys in my shop that are highly skilled all make more than me. It was a slow transition but it changed over the years.
I would hate to be an 18 year old right now. What are you going to do son?
College? Vocational school?
I think if it were me, I'd go into commercial refrigeration or some related field that is needed world wide.
I'm not the computer science kind of guy.
The small town manufacturing jobs are a thing of the past
 

macardoso

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I'm going to try Bangood for end mills. They seem to have good reviews. HSS only.
I've found carbide to be so darn brittle, a little chatter and the teeth get chipped.
I'm learning, the process is expensive.
I prefer carbide but I am running a small CNC (G0704) with rigid work holding. For manual machining, I don't see any reason not to use HSS.

On the lathe, I highly recommend carbide. But that is my personal opinion, lots of different opinions on here too.
 

pontiac428

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I prefer to use Alibaba over Ali Express. I like to interact with the distributor. They give accurate lead times and sometimes can get better prices. When I ordered my DRO, I went right to the Alibaba listing and specified the details with a sales rep. You don't get that with Banggood or Ali Express. Heck, it's more personal attention than you get from Amazon. You can also get semi-custom specs by dealing "direct" with Alibaba. It's worth a look for medium to larger purchases.
 

macardoso

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I prefer to use Alibaba over Ali Express. I like to interact with the distributor. They give accurate lead times and sometimes can get better prices. When I ordered my DRO, I went right to the Alibaba listing and specified the details with a sales rep. You don't get that with Banggood or Ali Express. Heck, it's more personal attention than you get from Amazon. You can also get semi-custom specs by dealing "direct" with Alibaba. It's worth a look for medium to larger purchases.
Are they willing to work with you on single item orders? I was under the impression they wanted large order quantities.
 

DavidR8

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Are they willing to work with you on single item orders? I was under the impression they wanted large order quantities.
Agreed, I looked at buying a PM-25-class mill from Alibaba and I could have ordered 100 machines if I wanted though there were some that would sell a single unit if I want to do all the brokerage.
 

Pierre52

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Beware Bangood
I used to buy a lot from Bangood and still buy the occasional item but only things that I cant find elsewhere.

Reason:
their customer service is awful and their refund policy is a minefield. Minimum, you have to send pictures and video about your complaint. Despite several attempts I have never suceeded in getting a refund from BG. AliE by comparison is light years ahead with both a simple and quick dispute process, fast refunds and tracking on all items.

Bangoods prices are also generally higher than Ali E.

A tip for all of these purchases, when the item arrives check the package carefully before opening. If there is any suspicion of damage take photos. Then take more photos when the package is opened. Quite reasonably, if the dispute is about goods damaged in transit then AliE would like to see evidence.
 

Suzuki4evr

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Beware Bangood
I used to buy a lot from Bangood and still buy the occasional item but only things that I cant find elsewhere.

Reason:
their customer service is awful and their refund policy is a minefield. Minimum, you have to send pictures and video about your complaint. Despite several attempts I have never suceeded in getting a refund from BG. AliE by comparison is light years ahead with both a simple and quick dispute process, fast refunds and tracking on all items.

Bangoods prices are also generally higher than Ali E.

A tip for all of these purchases, when the item arrives check the package carefully before opening. If there is any suspicion of damage take photos. Then take more photos when the package is opened. Quite reasonably, if the dispute is about goods damaged in transit then AliE would like to see evidence.
I agree with all of the above.
 

greenail

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I agree with all of the above.
I'd like to point out that Alibaba, AliExpress, bangood, Amazon, and even walmart.com all attempt to create a virtual mall. They provide the infrastructure for 3rd parties to sell and they take a small cut. In the case of Amazon and walmart they also compete by having their own retail offerings in the same "virtual mall".

Regarding customer support, there is only so much the "mall" can do for customer support. In a non-competition offering like ali you should expect to see inconsistent customer service depending on the store you purchase from. Generally if you get good service from a store you find you are likely better off trying to continue to use them when possible. Each store may also have a different return policy so it is worthwhile to look into that for each purchase. Some of the stores are backed directly by the manufacturer and you'll likely see similar quality items from them over time. Some stores are resellers who source all over the place and here you'll see the most variability of product quality as they try to buy low/sell high. Some stores buy QA rejects and sell them at a small discount to the same products that have passed QA. I think this is where most people get burned.
 

macardoso

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Thanks all!

I bought a DRO from what seems to be reputable store there as well as a handful of <$10 unbranded items like MT2 dead centers and a couple of lathe tool holders. I'm going to hold off on anything else until I see how these experiences go.

Here are a couple of my experiences after spending some time on the site.

The DRO I selected came at the recommendation of a few others on this site. The seller's store seems to be long standing and had large quantities of purchases and detailed reviews. The seller was fairly conversational and was happy to answer questions regarding the product as well as to build a "custom" package of DRO pieces to meet my needs. He was also able to provide me a manual is fairly decent English. The price of the item was not rock bottom so it seems I am paying for at least some minimum amount of quality - we will see.

There seems to be "brand" name tooling vendors from China which command a higher selling price (ZCC, MZG, ZGT, AHNO, AZZKOR, etc). I have no experience with these items, but it wouldn't surprise me to find that these are high quality tools. The prices however approach what I might pay from a US manufacturer like GARR tool or YG-1 through eBay vendors.

There is little to no fractional/imperial tooling to be had. This isn't an issue for lathe tooling or CNC mill users, but those looking for tools to use in a manual mill might be annoyed by this fact. For the same reason (as well as concerns of accuracy/quality) I would not purchase any measuring tools from them.

Shipping times for low dollar items can be 1-2 months. The shipping is free, but you better be OK waiting.
 
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