Sourcing from China

Discussion in 'Materials' started by bluebox3000, Oct 25, 2014.

  1. bluebox3000
    Joined: Sep 2013
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    bluebox3000 Junior Member

    I was looking at Alibaba, the latest hype in internet commerce.

    There are some vendors offering PVC foam, fiberglass, infusion materials and resins at some very good prices. Essentially a fraction of local prices here in the US.

    It would certainly make sense for a whole boat build to source all the material from China if one could rely on the quality of the material delivered. One can easily purchase excessive materials and give away the rest when finished vs buying locally. The freight is fixed if one takes a 20ft container.

    So what has been the experience with this type of purchases, pros and cons?
     
  2. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    The problem is with quality, technical service and fulfilling the contract. If they don't send it, you will have no recourse. Also, make sure you can get all the complete technical information about the product before you buy it. They tend to say they have foam, but offer no specifications.
     
  3. WestVanHan
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    WestVanHan Not a Senior Member

    BTW Alibaba is not the latest hype,I've been using it since about 2000.
    BTW Gonzo there are escrow services.

    I've imported tons of stuff from Asia,of all sorts but nothing of this sort.
    If you're going to spend any amount of money and if it's worth your time- fly there for a grand. But first get them to send you samples for testing.

    Look into:
    -shipping probably $3k + hazardous chemical charge.
    -import duties and tariffs
    -customs and brokerage fees.

    But who knows if it is up to standards. Sucks to have your boat fall apart in 4 years for the sake of perhaps saving a few grand.
     
  4. rasorinc
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    rasorinc Senior Member

    Most everything has a recipe. Companies give the Chinese all their specs to build or make a product. The Chinese change the recipe if they can make more $$$$.
    Stainless steel pans that stain, junk generators---on and on and on. I have been burned a few times-never again. I would not buy epoxy, foam, or FG cloth from them. My 2 bits............
     
  5. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    How much are the savings compared to the total cost of the boat? Brand name materials will make a survey more favorable and resale value higher.
     
  6. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    The basic problem with these imports is the lack of checks and balances, we in the west are accustomed to. Most, if not all of the regulations regarding just about every aspect of design, intellectual property, patent rights, advertising, material choices or changes, production, safety of employee or end user, guarantees, consumer safeguards, hazardous materials, shipping, etc. (frankly you name it) has to be given a big question mark. The only time they change something is when they get caught, even in their own food supplies, let alone products or services they export. When they do get caught, they'll behead someone, likely not especially responsible, but someone forced to fall on the sword and they'll just find another way to save the same portion of their bottom line, (regardless of the laws or regulations in or out of country).

    They are basically an immature society and will be, for some time yet. They consider themselves entitled to be the next great world power and they refuse to learn from those "other societies", so they'll burn coal and build leaded fuel cars until folks can't breath down town. They'll build "great works" using humans as the grease on the ways, until their tyrannical and totalitarian government is tossed. These folks are quickly and proudly becoming the "Ferengi" of modern society, with little regard for anything other then profit.

    If looking to go into business with this part of the world, the only real key is great control on your end, to the way things are made, from what and how. I know several designers importing sails and other gear from China. They literally have to explain things, stitch by stitch, employing very precise controls or they'll just try to do it, anyway that might be faster or cheaper, often ruining the end product's performance.
     
  7. bluebox3000
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    bluebox3000 Junior Member

    I´m getting some prices so I will get a better understanding of the savings but from what I'm seeing so far I could be talking about 50% of hull cost and 10% of overall cost. I would think that to be considerable.

    I suspect many of the brand names have their products made in China and that some of the material offered is more or less the same product, just with a different badge. Some products like fiberglass cloth have been commoditized to a great extent. Epoxies and foam may be different.

    Some suppliers offer "Customer References". That may be the best cause of action before pulling the trigger.
     
  8. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    I agree that some companies have their products made in China. However, they are responsible for quality control and warranty. If there is a problem, you have legal recourse against them. Also, you can ask technical questions about their product. 50% of hull materials cost is probably less than 10% overall. Customer references may or may not be legitimate. Ask for the technical specifications. They should be complete, including curing times at certain temperatures, coefficient of elongation, chemical characteristics, etc. If they are not, suspect the product.
     
  9. WestVanHan
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    WestVanHan Not a Senior Member

    I have a heavy metal test kit-mercury,lead,cadmium,chromium,arsenic etc and you wouldn't believe how many times I've caught this crap in ordinary household samples-jewelry/children's items/etc.
     
  10. myark
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    myark Senior Member

    Your suggestion to fly there is a must if you are buying a container load, its easy to first have a sample airmailed of what you are going to buy so you can compare it with local product.

    I find it honest dealing in China and the respect is outstanding and unheard of in AU and NZ, also the technology is superior as it’s an industrial heaven with everything at your fingertips.
    I am heading back to China in two months to develop and sell my inventions on www.kickstarter.com and will make China my homeland.
     
  11. bluebox3000
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    bluebox3000 Junior Member

    Foam quote

    So I have the first quote for 3/4 in. structural PVC perforated infusion foam coming in at around $3.00 per sq/ft. Most local supplies are around $10 per sq/ft for the same product. I'm looking at similar savings fro the fiberglass cloth.

    I'm estimating that I will need about 2,000 sq/ft for my project so it looks like we have considerable savings here.

    It would be interesting to hear from someone that has actually purchased foam, fibers and resins from China recently. What was the experience?
     
  12. WestVanHan
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    WestVanHan Not a Senior Member

    What are the HS commodity codes?

    I looked quickly and one pvc foam has 5% fed. and state tax plus a processing fee.But that is generic-there may be an extra tariff on China sourced stuff.
     
  13. bluebox3000
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    bluebox3000 Junior Member

    12 oz fiberglass cloth coming in at $1.10 per sq yard or about $0.15 per square foot. Well below local prices. Now it is just the epoxy missing...
     
  14. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Make sure the fiberglass has no binder if you are using epoxy.
     

  15. rwatson
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    rwatson Senior Member

    You know, i have asked this of the local suppliers several times, and they don't even know what 'binder' is - or they cant order 'unbindered' cloth.

    It seems that only chopped mat is 'bound', and West Systems doesnt care

    "Can WEST SYSTEM® epoxy be used to wet out chopped strand mat? The answer is yes. The fiberglass strand in mat wets out with epoxy, but the binder holding things together does not dissolve. (It does get put into suspension and is sealed in the cured epoxy.) This undissolved binder causes the wet-out mat to remain a bit stiff compared to wet out with a styrene-based resin. For gently curving or flat projects like cabin soles or plywood decks, mat and epoxy should work fine. The fabric does not wet out perfectly clear with epoxy. Wet-out clarity of mat with epoxy varies somewhat with different suppliers, but none of them wet out as clear as a good 4 oz or 6 oz fiberglass cloth."

    http://www.westsystem.com/ss/chopped-strand-mat-epoxy/

    Considering that standard West System epoxy is 'not recommended for clear finish', it doersnt sound like a big deal that the chopped matt is a bit cloudy.

    These guys advertise 'binderless' chopped mat
    http://boatcraft.com.au/Shop/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=40_155

    and they consider it the only thing to use with epoxy
    "Unlike most chopped strand mats, this is held together with a light glass net on either side of the mat. (Most have a glue or binder which glues them together, and the glue dissolves in the polyester (etc) resin, how-ever epoxy does not dissolve the binder and so those mats are not suitable for use with epoxy.)"

    The mystery continues ... :confused:
     
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