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Author Topic: Pooling resources to buy components from China. Any interest?  (Read 722 times)
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Worcester, MA
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Does anyone have any interest in getting together to buy parts from China?  I was thinking about this the other day as I was perusing Alibaba for prices on components I may need for an upcoming project.  It looks like there's plenty of members out there that either have small shops and/or a need for certain items in larger quantities. 

As an example, let's say I'm looking to buy several different components that I would prefer to have on reels because I may outsource the project to an assembly house and they require most parts to be on reels.  Now let's assume I only have a need for 600 but reels only come 1000 for these particular components.  I have two choices: 1. buy the full reel and try and sell the rest or 2. buy in smaller quantity from places like Digikey and pay the reeling fee.

So here's an example of a purchase I made from China and how it might apply if others are interested.  I purchased a reel of 1000 SMD mount JST 2 terminal battery connectors (the kind that you would plug a single cell lipo battery into like the ones sold at Digikey http://search.digikey.com/us/en/products/S2B-PH-SM4-TB%28LF%29%28SN%29/455-1749-1-ND/926846) , I didn't really need 1000 but the price was pretty cheap so I said what the heck.  A full reel was $87 and shipping and handling was $47 which brings the single quantity price to $0.134 each.  If I purchased a full reel from Digikey the price (including say $10 for S/H) would've been $272.00 which breaks down to $0.272 .  Now I also have the option of purchasing a smaller quantity and paying a reeling fee, which if wanted 600, the total price would be $207 ($0.34 each).

Here's how it might work if others were interested.  Using the same numbers above and assuming I wanted 600 on a reel, if a few other people were interested in buying in quantity to make up the difference they could purchase the difference and still take advantage of the lower per unit cost.  Example: 8 people wanted to each buy a quantity of 50, the cost to them (using a flat rate $6 shipping cost) would be $12.70 whereas the same purchase from Digikey (assuming the same shipping charge) would total $29.70 . Definitely a significant cost savings.

Again I was just kicking around the idea and was wondering what other people thought.
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Neat idea, if done right using a good web interface. Kinda like a Craigslist of components. I can see people putting in bids for things they want to buy, others putting in purchases they are considering making, and your web interface matching up buyers and sellers automatically.

I don't think you'd want to take this on as a manual effort, as it will become a co-ordination nightmare pretty quickly. Think about how you're going to deal with variable shipping costs, lost or returned shipments, parts not up to spec or the wrong part shipped (who gets stuck with the bill?), etc. Do you really want to be a distributor? smiley

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While your heart is in the right place, and buying bulk quantities from Asia and else where can bring the unit costs way down, I think you are drastically underestimating the time sink such an effort would take. And unless you place a almost zero value on your own labor cost I think you would soon sour on the whole idea. You only have a finite amount of time to spread among your business/hobby/family life and only you can estimate what amount you can add onto it to support the start-up and continued care and feeding of such a distribution chain. Your added Email traffic alone would surely draw you nuts.

Just my first impression.

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I definitely do not want to become a distributor.  Maybe when I get close to ordering some of the parts I'll throw a small list out there and see if anyone's interested, kind of a test run as sorts. 
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Well you know me and bottom fishing, but that's just not in the kind of quantity you are talking about, and my purchases tend to be driven by the deal, to be shelved for later, rather than by need... That being said, both I and Crossroads are pretty local..  if you are looking for the oddball item now and then feel free to hit me up.  You never know what oddness I have shelved.

I also will try to post 'hey I found..' when I find those deals I seem to find in the middle of the night..

I will attest that the time investment in finding the awesome deals is often unreasonable.  I find these deals because I sometimes have hours to kill, distracting myself.. Which results in a savings of two bucks on a random pile of LEDs or something.  It's not something you want to make a profit at.. At best, maybe we ought to create a thread specifically focused on Found Deals that can be recreated.  My one off purchases are not representative of reality...

« Last Edit: February 28, 2012, 11:13:49 pm by focalist » Logged

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Good idea wayneft. Sparkfun started in a similar way so... reminds me the Southpark episode with warmart.  smiley-lol

Pro
1) Cheap
2) Many designers can share parts library since they share actual parts, makes bad designs less often when. Say you have made a part library and used it in several designs and someone else uses this part library and it ought to work too. Saves time of design and checking and money on bad design.

Con
1) Time cost to distributor, may be compensated by a small finder fee smiley
2) In case bad things such as what RuggedCircuits mentioned happen, the distributor is not going to be happy

How do we start?! I'm not using SMD yet but if someone points to me a few tutorials I'll be happy to be a part of this.
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I'm not using SMD yet but if someone points to me a few tutorials I'll be happy to be a part of this.

the super simple way to get started is with a sharpie and though hole components

draw out your design with a marker, etch, take though hole's and solder to board

now you cant fuss about not seeing the parts or solder points and honestly 9/10ths of it is learning how to hold crap somewhat stable with tweezers

and I have pretty shaky hands, hands dont matter much when the tip of your iron is planted, the back end can wobble quite a bit and only show up a tiny bit on a tip
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Well you know me and bottom fishing, but that's just not in the kind of quantity you are talking about, and my purchases tend to be driven by the deal, to be shelved for later, rather than by need... That being said, both I and Crossroads are pretty local..  if you are looking for the oddball item now and then feel free to hit me up.  You never know what oddness I have shelved.

I also will try to post 'hey I found..' when I find those deals I seem to find in the middle of the night..

I will attest that the time investment in finding the awesome deals is often unreasonable.  I find these deals because I sometimes have hours to kill, distracting myself.. Which results in a savings of two bucks on a random pile of LEDs or something.  It's not something you want to make a profit at.. At best, maybe we ought to create a thread specifically focused on Found Deals that can be recreated.  My one off purchases are not representative of reality...



Well I will pass on one great little bottom feeding trinket that people just goes nuts over. Be sure to buy more then you think you would need cause your friends and family will bug you to no end to get them some. Someone posted these on this the 'look what I just purchased thread when it first got started I think, so I bought 5, then had to buy five more, and I'm almost out once again. These are about the size of a US quarter and scoot along pretty quick in direct sunlight, put your hand over them to block the sun and a stop immediately. Kids go nuts over them.


http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Smallest-Mini-Solar-Powered-Robot-Racing-Car-Toy-Gadget-/251005446254?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3a7117286e

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I didn't really need 1000 but the price was pretty cheap so I said what the heck.

If you are using 600, 1000 is the quantity you should go for. Those looks like from 4UCON. I got those (straight instead) somewhere else cheaper than 4UCON. I think for parts like connectors & passive components, you have to bite the bullet and pay upfront. Like for example, I have about 15K of connectors just for the osPID project I'm working on. That's a lot of connectors I guess for a small shop like me.
And some advise for buying from China, get your samples in first before bigger purchases.

On the pool purchase, there might be more than 1 guy going for the reel!  smiley-grin
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I didn't really need 1000 but the price was pretty cheap so I said what the heck.

If you are using 600, 1000 is the quantity you should go for. Those looks like from 4UCON. I got those (straight instead) somewhere else cheaper than 4UCON. I think for parts like connectors & passive components, you have to bite the bullet and pay upfront. Like for example, I have about 15K of connectors just for the osPID project I'm working on. That's a lot of connectors I guess for a small shop like me.
And some advise for buying from China, get your samples in first before bigger purchases.

On the pool purchase, there might be more than 1 guy going for the reel!  smiley-grin
Yes it was 4UCON, but if you know a cheaper place do tell!
I have ordered a few samples from China already and so far have not had any problems.  I'm only using distributors that accept Paypal which should help reduce the risk if I do end up having a problem.  I did get a reply back from one of the places I sent a request to and they offer reels in varying sizes so that does make it easier.  I think when I get closer to putting some orders in I'll throw it out there to see if anyone's interested.  Just an FYI though, if I'm ordering a certain component from a company they typically carry several thousand different components so if anyone wants to "piggy back" some smaller quantity sample orders just let me know.
Oh well back to filming my Kickstarter video (does anyone else feel silly sitting in a room by yourself talking to a camcorder?).
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Well a while ago I was wondering about pushbuttons, one company sells them for $1.30 each, while I can buy a bulk of 1000 pcs for about $20. And there still must be a profit margin for the factory.

I was thinking, with price increases like that involved, I could make a good business too, even if I only increase price to about double of original price.

It is also interesting for people from UK/Europe, they can get parts from me very fast, not 2 or 3 weeks waiting for shipping from China.

For the 30 or so items I have now I just wrote a price list:
http://pic.hitechworld.org/pricelist2012_1.html

Some of the items are also listed on eBay, but I see some parts actually have low demand,
low page views, even never sold at all. It's adding up far too much for listing fees, except
parts with reasonable page views, or which actually sell.

It's OK I think to buy 1000pcs and re-sell at increased price, not everyone wants to buy 1000pcs bags, not everyone wants to store these bags.

So maybe, get a domain website, and put up a price list.
If it extends to 100s of different parts, you can think about a full-scale webshop,
or eBay shop (they take 10% fee but also buyers will arrive from their search).
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I also have PIC related web domain.

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