From the emergence of CNC machines in the 50s of the last century and their development until today, the production of parts has been drastically accelerated. There has also been progress in processing accuracy as well as production capabilities.
This improvement in the quality of machining is caused by the fact that CNC machines, especially the newer generations, have exceptional accuracy and, with precision CNC machining, you can produce all kinds of intricate CNC parts and components. CNC machining brings to the satisfactory accuracy with lower labor cost, which certainly reduces the cost of parts.
And if the advent of CNC machines has significantly reduced production costs, today in the golden age of exchanging information and goods, by moving production to China, which is certainly in the future the production giant in the world, it is possible to reduce the cost of costs to a minimum.
1. Cutting the Labor Costs
Suppose you are the owner of a company that has plans to start developing a new product (regardless of whether the company is small, medium or large) for which you need CNC machined parts. There are two ways to do this:
- Buy your own CNC machines and hire your own (which requires training) or new workers, which is extremely expensive (a regular 3-axis CNC machine costs about $ 50,000, which is the minimum you will need). So this is a more expensive option, and out of the question, especially if your company is not interested in continuing with CNC machines and parts manufacturing.
An option that makes more sense is to pay a CNC workshop to make the desired number of parts for you. There is a very good chance that workshops in your area pay for it very well, because in countries where service activities predominate over production, those production activities themselves are paid more due to the rarity of occupations, thus higher production costs for operators of CNC machines.
With a production giant such as China, such occupations are very common, so they are paid less. It may even be that a more qualified and experienced machine operator in China is paid less than an average operator in your country.
2. Production Capabilities
When we say that a country is a production giant – it means that it provides production of almost anything that comes to your mind – from a needle to a locomotive.
Today they exist (from the already traditional 2-axis CNC lathes and 3-axis CNC milling machines to modern turn-mill CNC machines with two spindles – the so-called 9-axis CNC lathes on which literally anything can be made).
China is also a leader in the production of new additive technologies, primarily 3D printing and plastic injection, but also 3D printing of metal parts, which leads to endless production possibilities.
3. Quality control
As a foreigner, I can confirm that for a long time, products that were “made in China” were thought to be of poor quality. It was considered that Chinese goods are characterized by high quantity, which leads to cheaper products, but at the cost of losing quality. However, in recent years we have witnessed that this situation has drastically improved. Now, in addition to long overtaking other competing countries in terms of production, it is slowly catching up with them in terms of quality, so the quality of Chinese products can be compared to, for example, the quality of German and Japanese products (Note that German or Japanese products are very from Chinese)
Chinese CNC shops and manufacturing facilities are particular when it comes to the quality of the end products. Most of the Chinese-bound manufacturing companies you may outsource from are ISO 9001 compliant and offer high-quality parts and end products produced on the latest CNC multi-axis machine sets known for their reliability and accuracy.
4. Low-volume manufacturing
Although the Chinese industry is mainly focused on mass or medium production ($ 2 trillion is circulating in the Chinese manufacturing industry currently), there are many CNC workshops that provide custom parts manufacturing service, even if it is a small amount of parts (small batch production – which means less than 50 parts) . This service has a slightly higher price per piece compared to producing a large quantity of parts, but it is certainly a cheaper option than making a small quantity of parts anywhere else in the world.
5. Faster Time To Market
With the huge population of the Chinese state, it is very easy to find a highly skilled CNC operator who is available at a given moment to answer the task, that is, to process the part you need. This fact not only significantly reduces production costs, but also greatly speeds up the production process itself, which leads to additional savings (reduced cost of storage of preparations, workpieces, tools, etc.). Here, the well-known proverb – “Time is money” also applies.
This is a great advantage compared to the manufacturing sector of other countries (e.g. USA, Germany, Japan, etc.), where the lack of highly skilled workers on CNC machines is a bottleneck in production. In translation, a small number of active workers cover a large part of the work, which of course leads to an increase in time, and thus production costs (higher wages to workers, material storage costs, etc.), and therefore the price of the final product.
Honorable mention: 6. “All of that already exist…”
In such a large manufacturing industry as the one in China, there is a high probability that the part you want to order to be made for you has already been desired and made by someone before you. This is a very important fact because it leads to incredible savings in the design of processing technology, selection of accessories, selection of tools, writing programs (G-code) and accompanying documentation. In case someone has already processed such a part on CNC machines and made the obligatory accompanying documentation, it is enough to just comb through that technological and technical documentation and find everything we need to produce the desired part. This also affects the reduction of the cost of production, because the larger and heavier part of the work has already been done by an engineer, and the worker is left with “physical” work around the machine, which does not require much time.
So let’s recapitulate. If your company wants to develop a new product and for that you need parts machined on CNC machines (be it classic cutting or some additive technologies), the cheapest and best option is to order the specific quantity (series) of parts you want to make , manufactures in one of the many quality CNC workshops in China. Why? Because there are as many as 6 (5 + 1) strong reasons for that, which we have previously stated and explained: Cutting the labor costs, large production capabilities, good quality control, possibility of low-volume manufacturing, faster time to market and the possible existence of documentation of the same machine part.