Chinese machine tools quality

starr256

Registered
Registered
Joined
Apr 7, 2018
Messages
69
During the 50's, Japan rebuilt it's manufacturing industry by dumping its products on the US market. Most of it was junk, but with time the quality became world class. Next came Taiwan in the 60's and 70's. Then came Korea. Now its China. Each progressing in capability and quality. Each using lower prices to gain market and experience. So, my question. Is there a high quality Chinese lathe? Or a mill? It might not be cheap, but is it good? What are they using in in their own high tech manufacturing plants? Is it all imports? Who is next? Is it India? Vietnam? South Africa? .......I hope the thread sticks with discussion on just machine tools.
 

benmychree

John York
H-M Supporter Gold Member
Joined
Jun 7, 2013
Messages
6,612
For one, India is already there: back in the early '70s I worked for a local shop that had a Indian lathe, Kirloskar was the name on it; it was a decent piece of machinery, the only thing that I did not like about it was the feed/thread ranges, you were always having to change gears to get fine enough feeds or coarse enough threads, it had (as I recall) a 8:1 ratio between the feed/thread ranges; when I ran it, I geared it to hit the middle with 4:1, so one had to just divide or multiply what was shown on the plate on the change box. The machine was a gear head, and ran quietly and smoothly.
 

Buffalo21

H-M Supporter - Gold Member
H-M Supporter Gold Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2018
Messages
1,036
when I was in China working, I saw Chinese machines the would rival a Haas or Mazak, sitting next to them. I was working on a boiler in a hard chroming process, they were making spindles, quills and hydraulic cylinders, for other manufacturers.

I asked why, we didn’t see the equipment in the USA, the NZ engineer, said, when you get to a certain point, high quality cost money. He said if you looked at the price of the Haas or Mazak, the Chinese machine would cost roughly the same amount of money, as the others. He said in that situation, with 3 high priced machines, all within a few percentage points of each other, who would pick the Chinese machine. They tried, but failed, now they no longer try to compete, in the US and Europe, but they are all through Asia and India.

He then took me to the Haas machine and showed me, a large percentage of the parts, were made in China.

Some of the welding equipment I saw and used in China, was built there, on par with anything Miller or Lincoln are making.

As the is no real competition in the new $3000 lathe or mill market, you get what you get.
 
Last edited:

Aaron_W

H-M Supporter - Sustaining Member
H-M Platinum Supporter
Joined
Nov 14, 2016
Messages
1,800
India and China both have healthy aero-space industries and active space programs so I think it is safe to say they have the capability.


Before jokes begin about some of their spectacular failures in space, remember NASA doesn't have a perfect record either.

As recapped in The Right Stuff :)

 

RJSakowski

H-M Supporter - Gold Member
H-M Supporter Gold Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2015
Messages
6,183
During the 50's, Japan rebuilt it's manufacturing industry by dumping its products on the US market. Most of it was junk, but with time the quality became world class. Next came Taiwan in the 60's and 70's. Then came Korea. Now its China. Each progressing in capability and quality. Each using lower prices to gain market and experience. So, my question. Is there a high quality Chinese lathe? Or a mill? It might not be cheap, but is it good? What are they using in in their own high tech manufacturing plants? Is it all imports? Who is next? Is it India? Vietnam? South Africa? .......I hope the thread sticks with discussion on just machine tools.
I was wondering the same thing the other day. There are undoubtedly name brand machines that used to be made in the USA that are now being made in China. I decided to look at the venerable brand of South Bend, a company that has been making lathes for more than 100 years.

Looking at their catalog, there is no indication that any of their lathes are currently made in the USA. They make a point of proclaiming the stand for their Model SB1002 is made in the USA and that the manuals for their larger lathes are written in the USA, the implication being that they value the "Made in USA" label and further, that their lathes are no longer made in the USA.

So the question that arises is, is the famous South Bend quality still present? Perhaps some owners of recent South Bend lathes can shed some light.
 

tjb

H-M Supporter - Diamond Member
H-M Lifetime Diamond Member
Joined
May 3, 2017
Messages
1,475
Several years ago, I was looking into buying a new Kalamazoo band saw. I spoke with a very helpful dealer by telephone and, in the course of our conversation, I mentioned the appeal of an American made product. He told me, much to my surprise, that there are no longer ANY American made metal working machines. If you wanted to buy 'Made in the USA', you pretty much had to buy used. All, including Kalamazoo, are made overseas.

I also became acquainted with a gentleman two or three years ago that is a self-employed machine repair specialist (or some such job description). I needed work done on my made-in-Taiwan Supermax mill, and the earliest appointment he could give me was more than two months later. When he finally made it to my shop, I expressed my curiosity as to why it took so long for him to get to me and why no one else was accessible who knew how to service this equipment. His response was revealing. Back in the day, when all these machines were made in the US, the craftsmen who built them were the guys who went out and repaired them. But today, we are well beyond a working-career generation removed from when those machines were made here. The guys who worked on them are pretty much dead and gone - at least as far as productive availability is concerned. Consequently, there are precious few left who know how to fix these machines anymore. This gentleman is so backed up with work, he even charged me to drive to my shop (about an hour, one way). And I was glad to pay it. I got my money's worth.

To be fair, I have no prospect of verifying either of these assertions, but they at least pass a smell test. Bottom line: If the good equipment is not being made here, it is most certainly being made somewhere. Many European manufacturers seem to still be going strong but have likely been at capacity for a number of years (right/wrong?), so the slack must be being picked up somewhere else. That pretty much leaves Asia. Case in point, almost every piece of heavy equipment in my shop was made in Taiwan. No doubt, it would be desirable to have the option of 'Made in the USA', but apparently those days are long gone. That being the case, I have no complaints with 'Made in Taiwan'. So far.

Regards,
Terry
 

NortonDommi

Registered
Registered
Joined
Nov 15, 2016
Messages
943
You get what you pay for and the stuff coming out of China is for the price exceptional value especially if you buy direct. It pays to buy through an outfit like Alibaba and ask a LOT of questions.
China makes some very good quality gear and the service is usually outstanding. When you buy through someone like Precision Matthews you are paying for them to do the quality checks and provide local service. Sometimes having that local connection gives peace of mind.
A friend imports product from China because no one local was even interested in production. He had one bad batch after 3 years of good product and sent 2 40' containers back. That was over 10 years ago and he has had no more problems in that time. He did say that when he visited the factory that sent the low quality stuff about a month after returning them he saw none of the original management team, he reckons they were retired early with a bullet.
 

pineyfolks

Active User
Registered
Joined
Apr 30, 2012
Messages
1,088
We had a Dainichi lathe at work. It was a well made and accurate machine. Plenty of power for anything you'd want to turn.
 

Mitch Alsup

Registered
Registered
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
1,219
During the 1990s, american manufactures perfected the interferometrically controlled optical lathes.
During the 2000s american/japanese optical manufactures were witnessing a downturn delivery's and decided not to purchase these new lathes.
During the 2000s chinese optical manufactures bought all of these lathes (probably with government assistance).
And now optical manufacturing has basically moved to china.

This scenario cannot be blamed on anything other than the short sightedness of established manufactures in a downturn.
 

markba633csi

Registered
Registered
Joined
Apr 30, 2015
Messages
6,694
Interesting, since the Japanese usually have/had a long-term view in business, like 25 years or more
 
It can take up to an hour for ads to appear on the page. See our code implementation guide for more details. If you already have Auto ad code on your pages there's no need to replace it with this code
Top
AdBlock Detected

We get it, advertisements are annoying!

Sure, ad-blocking software does a great job at blocking ads, but it also blocks useful features of our website. For the best site experience please disable your AdBlocker.

I've Disabled AdBlock