Lessons from China: pain of parts sourcing

As you might be aware, i bought a 2nd hand 3D printer at a steal recently.

I thought people might be interested in how I source for parts and ship them over.

  • Taobao has everything, i mean, everything.
  • Ebay many of the ShenZhen folks sell their stuff on ebay
  • aliexpress I'm not a fan of aliexpress for their USD quotes and all.

Tried out Ezbuy for their shipping agent service and it seems decent. They can even help you to purchase them on your behalf for a small fee. Good for the non-chinese speaking!

Taobao has their own shipping service to Singapore as well but I have yet to try it out.


Lesson 1: Photos are just, photos.

taobao-stepper

This is the photo from the Taobao listing

actual-stepper

and this is the actual received motor.

If you went :O, it just means that you don't know China well enough, yet.

You would have noticed that the brand is different. However, the more recent manufacturing date pleases my eye.

Just be aware that this is what you need to expect when buying from China.

I would not go into arguing with the seller about the difference but instead, test it out first.

It works! China is a different beast. If you know how to work with it, you will be able to source for many parts that aids repair.


Lesson 2: Parts do not always come, complete.

Here's another example, one that blow my mind.
I thought i knew about China, but i don't.

china-pulley

This is a belt pulley.

  1. It looks slightly rusty/stained
  2. It feels light, non-metal it seems
  3. They didn't give the mounting screws?!?!

You mean, they are expecting me to buy that 2 x mounting screw that is the size of a rice when they usually come in a set?!

But hey, seriously, it saves them ~5rmb doing so.

Allow me to repeat that these are things you need to be prepared for when you buy from China. Never be optimistic, thinking that you can pull off a project with an idealistic timeline. Things like these are real and it happens.  

Tip: When purchasing online, buy 1-2 pieces and try them out before you do a bulk purchase. This applies not only for electronics.

As you understand more about China's ecosystem, you will be able to find the good deals, legitimate parts and more importantly, parts that you can no longer purchase off the shelf.

I'm glad that my mentors showed me the world of China. :)

And yes, my 3D printer is fixed :D

~ ken