Outsourcing Your CNC Machining to China – Yes or No?

Outsourcing Your CNC Machining to China – Yes or No?

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Have you decided to outsource your cnc machining to China? Well you’ve made a great decision. I’ve had positive experiences doing this many times in the past and I’d like to share with you the guide to doing so successfully.

First up, I highly recommend both outsourcing your cnc and your rapid prototyping/ 3d printing to a place like China. The benefits are obvious, and you can manage some of the frequent disadvantages that people can conjure up in their mind.


China cnc outsource

Cost is cheaper

Depending on the size of the project, even including packaging and shipping rates – the cost to outsource your cnc work is cheaper. This is because of the scale that some of these companies work at.

I’ll tell you my favorite company at the end of this article (actually screw it – the secret is out.. GL Model) – but you can expect companies in China to offer a massive range of cnc machines and higher tolerance levels for a VERY reasonable price.

Of course, if your project is too expensive to ship, then this negates the benefits.

Manual surface finishing is cheaper

Rates overseas are a lot cheaper for surface finishing of your product. You can request samples of different surface finishes, colors and textures.

GL Model actually sent out sample plastic cards that have all the coatings I requested – such as rubber (which is AMAZING by the way), different colors and even chrome. You would NEVER get this level of detail in many of the local cnc places I have seen.. unless you are willing to fork over a ton of money, and even then – this is rare.

A wider range of machines to choose from

Your local cnc operator may only have one or two machines. GL Model and many other cnc companies that I have approached have 3 4, and 5 axis Chinese cnc machines and rapid prototyping machines that can cnc into very high tolerances.

I had some miniature chairs made and they CNC’d it to less than 1mm thick, that’s right – cnc NOT rapid prototyped, that is just INSANE!

Quick turn around

I was presently surprised with the quick turnaround times  that some of these cnc places offer. While it’s imperative to tell them a turnaround time and discuss how long typical lea times are – I’ve found the service and their able-ness to stick to this has been really good.

One project I had with GL Model – they actually employed an outside 3d modeler to re-model the file because it did not export properly on their end – at no additional cost to me. This was an extreme case, because I had a tight deadline and I had worked with them before.

Commitment to impress 

Competition between different cnc vendors that you can outsource to is hot. Because of this, rates as well as services are a huge value over what you would get in places like the U.K. or North America.

With the many different places that have cnc routers in China – I’ve seen places that have Skype, as well as quick email turnaround to ensure that communication is solid. This combined with the surface finish, quick (reliable) turnaround and quality makes for a solid choice over a domestic cnc operator.

CNC China

So from all the above benefits, I’d have to say I am sold on the idea of outsourcing to China. With the huge selection of China cnc machine routers available, you will have luck finding a company with a Chinese cnc router or lathe that will be able to do the cnc job that you want.