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Chinese machine tools quality

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starr256

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#1
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

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#2
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

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#3
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.
 
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Aaron_W

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#4
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

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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

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#6
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

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#7
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

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#8
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

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#9
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

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#10
Interesting, since the Japanese usually have/had a long-term view in business, like 25 years or more
 

Bamban

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I was an expat in China for 4 years, 2000-2004, when we built and started the most advanced semiconductor factory in all of China at that time. When we sold the factory I stayed on site till I finally signed off the asset, line-by-line to the new owner - a Chinese company. However, the Chinese owners being smart businessmen, knowing they did not have the experience and expertise to run the factory, they hired an all Taiwanese team, from the Ops Manager down to section managers. Why Taiwanese, these folks have started semiconductor factories in Taiwan and they spoke the business language. The department managers were all US educated.

The situation in our factory was more the norm than aberration in that time frame. In the early 2000s, almost all manufacturing operations in China were ran by Taiwanese. In some cases the Chinese partnered with Germans for specific technology like the MagLev high speed rail from Pudong Airport to Shanghai. In automotive, Buick had a big presence and later on BMW. Y'all can Google high speed rail and BMW engine in China, y'all be surprised.
 
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darkzero

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#12
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.
Nope, not quite. They are not the same company, Grizzly bought the rights & is just using their name although they have came out with models that try to resemble original SBs.

I don't doubt the quality of the new South Bends but IMO they are not worth the money for the larger models. I haven't seen one in person but for some of their models, you can get something of equal or greater value for less cost.

I have used a number of heir SB branded blank backplates though & they are better than any other blank backplate I've used from Asia.
 
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