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Author: Subject: buying from China
chemrox
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I don't like China because they take advantage of having no environmental or worker protection. As the result and this is why I didn't vote for Al Gore, China is polluting the whole world and will manage to single handedly collapse the marine ecosystem in less than a decade. Did I say "single-handed?" I was mistaken. By buying from them I'm participating. However, TCI, Spectrum, Aldrich .. these have all been taken over by lawyers and discourage small businesses and private parties. Whereas the Chinese have discovered PayPal. They sell at 300-600% less than TCI. And why not? They don't pay, train or conserve. Global warming? What-me worry?

"When you let the dumbasses vote you end up with populism followed by autocracy and getting back is a bitch." Plato (sort of)
diddi
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and the chinese are clever at manipulating market pricing as well, particularly in rare earth production. I guess it is a failure of other countries to compete in the manufacturing sector. it is easier to dig it up and send to china than to put in the hard yards and develop value added products in ones own country.
j_sum1

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Mood: Possessor of a tidy and organised lab. Now to mess it up again.

Australia has a huge amount of mineral resources including 1/3 of the world's mined uranium. And yet processes very littke within its borders. If our environmental and economic concerns were actually the same as what the politicians regularly claim they are we would be investing in this area.
As for buying from China, I generally have few qualms. I am supporting a growing economy and one that is transitioning from a third world to first world. I know that not every dollar makes its way to the right place but boycotting the country is unlikely to help anyone lift themselves from poverty. In my observation, asian cultures have a very strong work ethic and I believe deserve some reward for their efforts. Environmental and other concerns are not likely to be affected greatly by our refusal to buy frm them anyway.

In any case, the Chinese (and others) position themselves well in the market by keeping shipping costs down. There is typically a hundredfold difference in freight when comparing China and USA. It really is no contest.

Edited to correct thumb typing.

[Edited on 2-11-2014 by j_sum1]
chemrox
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Oh I'm not denigrating the hardworking peoples of China but the country's environmental and labor policies have undermined other nations economies and threaten the future habitability of the world. Indeed what we really need is a lot fewer people. The irony is our own businesses have pushed me into buying from them. Want a chemical business? Buy from China, purify and repackage.

"When you let the dumbasses vote you end up with populism followed by autocracy and getting back is a bitch." Plato (sort of)
BromicAcid
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Love getting starters from China, goes something like this:

Me: Okay, pre-ship sample looks good. We need 4 x 200 L of material.
Them: That will be 14 weeks with shipping.
Me: You quoted me six when we discussed this.
Them: Oh, let me check <hear typing> yes, you're right, six weeks.
Me: Six to my dock or six to customs.
Them: Six to your dock.
Me: Okay, sounds good, send over a invoice and I can get the PO rolling.

Seven weeks later...

Me: Could you give me an update on the status of this PO?
My purchasing agent: There was some kind of delay in the production, it should be on the ship within the week. Then it's three weeks at sea before it gets to the port.
Me: <grumbling> Okay... thank you.

Eleven weeks from initial call...

Me: Any update on that starter? We're supposed to have material into QC by the end of next week.
My purchasing agent: Yes, I did get a chance to talk with the company, there was an issue in customs, it will be shipping out this week.
Me: Shipping... from China... this week? It's supposed to have already been on the boat! I need this starter.
My purchasing agent: Well, it should be in port in three weeks.
Me: And then another week for customs and then another few days to get here.
My purchasing agent: We'll pass along that this is a rush order to the vendor.
Me: They should know that it's a rush order.

Hang up phone, call the devo group, ask them to explore options to make the material in house at elevated cost.

Thirteen weeks from initial call...

Co-worker: Hey, your drums are downstairs.
Me: What drums?
Co-worker: ::Shrugs:: They got your name on them.
-Go downstairs to dock, check drums- Finally, my starter has arrived. Call the devo group and tell them they don't need to carry out the qualification run to make the starter in the kettle. Get all of my local starters moving. Get my process order for the final product released. Get the material crammed into the schedule in one of the 2000 gallon kettles.

Fourteen weeks from initial call...

Me: (Out loud to myself) Why the heck do I have an e-mail from purchasing saying my order has been delayed again? That showed up last week.

Fifteen weeks from initial call...

Operator: Hey, we were charging that starter... it's supposed to be a liquid right?
Me: Yeah... (don't like where this is going)
Operator: Does it freeze around room temperature?
Me: No, like negative thirty.
Operator: Oh... it must be really cold in the bay today.

Go out to the bay to inspect the drums. One of the drums is full of unknown solid, two are full of what look like grass clippings, one is pristine clear/colorless. Looks like someone spilled it on the floor then siphoned it out into drums. Call up the devo group again "Guys, when do you think you can make that starter in the kettle for me?"

Ninteen weeks from initial call....

Make the starter ourselves, made the final product and it is packaged, out the door, and on it's way to the customer.

Twenty two weeks from initial call...

Four more drums of starter show up. Pass QC just fine.

Thirty weeks from initial call...

New invoice shows up for the last four drums which we never ordered.

Shamelessly plugging my attempts at writing fiction: http://www.robvincent.org
diddi
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oh, you have dealt with the chinese too

Me: you have sent the wrong product. I ordered lithium
Them: it is lithium
Me: then why did you ship it in a plastic zip loc bags with holes and why hasn't it completely oxidised away
Them: it is special lithium with very strong coating - does not need oil or argon
Me: it melts at about 500C this is not lithium
Them: send photos of packaging and product
Me did as requested
Them: yes this is lithium!
Me does proper analysis and finds it to be magnesium
Me: it is magnesium - I am sending whole order back/cancelling further orders and you are paying the shipping for return
Them: so you don't need lithium now
Me pulls last 3 strands of hair from already shiny head and starts packing up the order
time passes.............
more time passes............
Me advises that order is packed and shipping is xxx
Them: oh we see we make mistake. your lithium is sent now and you will receive in a few days
time passes.......
Me receives lithium at no charge and unpacks order, scoring some magnesium I didn't really need

its a shame magnesium does not promote hair growth
DrMario
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I purchase a lot of stuff from China, mostly glassware. The latest was a set of bottles with phenolic caps and PE lining. Previous to that I got test tubes, Erlenmeyer flasks with stoppers, watch glasses, petri dishes, silicone corks and tubing, many beakers (way more than I'll ever need, so now I use the small ones as self-standing test tubes), graduated bottles and pipettes, glass stirring rods, PTFE coated mag stirrers, etc.
I got a few reagents, like nickel, copper and magnesium. And MANY other things.

Shipping was typically 0.

One time I had my money refunded because the item didn't arrive after a month.

I once got some contaminated reagent. This was still somewhat usable, but I'd be wary of purchasing reagents from the same vendor.
gardul
HAZARD TO TEH CATZ!

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I work in international freight for a trucking company..... yeaaaaaah...... if you ever need anything shipped.. Don't use Yang Ming.../end rant now to stay reasonably nice...

I just made you read this very pointless signature. How does it feel?
chemrox
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Don't EVER pay Chinese in advance! Unless you use an escrow service or paypal. Alibaba has escrow.

"When you let the dumbasses vote you end up with populism followed by autocracy and getting back is a bitch." Plato (sort of)
MrHomeScientist
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This whole thread is great, particularly BromicAcid's story (great reading, that is, not great for you I'm sure). This type of stuff is why I do not buy things from China. They have zero quality control and if there is any kind of problem (there will be) they'll pull the 'ol language barrier on you. "We only send top quality for you super good service! No refund"

I did make an exception recently and ordered two packages of lithium metal from China. One was in a clear plastic bag and had clearly oxidized from atmosphere diffusing through it, and the other was in a metal foil pack. I haven't opened the metal pack yet, so I hope it's better quality. When I complained they gave me some barely readable jargon that convinced me it would be a waste of time to try to get a better product from them. They probably don't even know what is on their own shelves.

That's crazy with your drums Bromic. It sounds like they just grabbed whatever barrels were closest and sent them off. "This probably wat he want. He already pay!"
Dr.Bob
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I have had heard of many problems with Chinese chemicals, such as Bromic's, but not in that scale. But many small companies I know have tried to import cheap chemicals that way, only to have similar results. Many times they will ship trash as a stalling tactic, just to buy time. Other people have found that they like to extend the amount of material by diluting correct material with other stuff, often sodium sulfate, silica gel, or other cheap fillers. I would dissolve a sample, filter and then concentrate to see if that is your issue. Many others have done similar things in the past, by leaving solvent or other traces in liquid chemicals to get the desired amount or yield. Checking the density, refractive index, GC, NMR or other test is always a good idea.
DrMario
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I don't dispute that buying reagents from China is a risk, but for glassware, I have been 100% satisfied, without exaggeration.
diddi
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I was looking to buy some sample bottles with ground glass seal. luckily I ordered a sample first. they were poorly machined, out of round and the seals leaked even after greasing. that said, I have also had quite a few good items from china, including reagents and metals, but the key for me is going to the right source.
HgDinis25
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Your generalizing an entire country, of course you're going to have bad experiences and good experiences, just like everywhere else. You can't simply say that China is a bad source because the guys you've dealt with were bad sources. I honestly think that, if you go to the right place, you'll get what you want, cheaper usually.

Speaking of my experience, I've ordered a few things from Chinsese suppliers and I've been saisfied in all of the orders. And the cost was always a fraction of what it would have costed me anywhere else.

Of course that this also poses moral questions. But that's a discussion that should be made elsewhere...
BromicAcid
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On the whole it is cheaper to order from China in industry. However it is usually not as cheap as one would expect and the timelines do tend to drag. I had some personal dealings with a metal dealer in China through AliBaba to buy some ruthenium. Their posting said that the minimum quantity was 100 grams. I asked for a quote for 100 grams and they quoted for 150. I thought, "Fine, I can go with that." So I asked them to draw up a purchase order, the purchase order was for 250 grams! Ruthenium is not cheap and I don't have a ton of money to spend so I didn't want to go that far. When I told them that they informed me that they never sell less than 250 grams and that the quotes before were valid quotes but not for valid quantities. They were a Gold seller, one of the few that I could get a payment to so I bit the bullet and bought the 250 grams. First week it didn't ship, second week it did not ship and when I asked about it they said that I was a small customer and they have other orders to fill first. Out of the blue a package arrived. They had shipped it via EMS air which is about 3 days shipping. They insured my $1100 package for$50 and the customs form on the package said that it was a customer sample of plastic. What the heck was I going to do if that was lost? There was no writing on the powder inside, no CofA. I contacted the seller about the CofA and they assured me it was good material. Then the next day they sent me what looked like a scan of a photocopy of a photocopy. I sent a sample out of X-ray fluorescence. For any reasonable price I could not get a CofA via XRF. However for $15 I was able to at least get confirmation that it was a sample of ruthenium. Shamelessly plugging my attempts at writing fiction: http://www.robvincent.org j_sum1 Administrator Posts: 5923 Registered: 4-10-2014 Location: Unmoved Member Is Offline Mood: Possessor of a tidy and organised lab. Now to mess it up again. [not entirely serious] Are you saying you have spare ruthenium? I am sure there are some element collectors who would love you to package some up. You may as well recoup some of that$1100.
[/not entirely serious]
chemrox
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I'm glad an surprised to hear that folks have good experiences with glass from China. I found it to be brittle and fragile with respect to shock. I also found it much harder to clean than American boro. I got Teflon beaker that came from China. Teflon has to be extruded and machined. The beaker was so crudely machined it too was hard to clean. Another Teflon vessel, a bottle, was so uneven inside that one had to guess at the true volume. These aren't my complaints though. I don't like the lack of QC. I don't like contributing to global warming and I deplore the pollution that is affecting the world beyond China.

"When you let the dumbasses vote you end up with populism followed by autocracy and getting back is a bitch." Plato (sort of)
AvBaeyer
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Several years ago when I was gainfully employed at a biotech, we needed 50 kg of an intermediate to make drug for a scheduled formulation run and clinical trial. Our cost conscious outsourcing folks went to China for the stuff. Everything was great - no problem producing the material on our timeline at a cheap price and with best quality. As promised, 50 kg of material arrived right on time. The process chemist in charge took a sample and ran a use test to ensure that the material produced the correct product and the expected yield. Surprise - only got a 50% yield. Checked material, which was water soluble, by HPLC and it looked fine, same with NMR. Decided to recrystallize the stuff and found 50% of the delivered product was sodium chloride. Blew our timeline to hell and caused CEO to throw a hissy fit. It took another six weeks to get the pure material made by a reliable US company for about 40% more than we paid the Chinese operation. So much for saving money.

AvB
chemrox
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I have a similar batch. The bastards are skilled at find an adulterant with compatible properties. I'm using n-hexane to recryx. However the writeup mentions cyclohexane. In any case I can purify it. Taking it step by step until I see white crx instead of umber colored material that is typical of the off the shelf product.
@Dr. Bob- I think a lot of progress can be made more cheaply by using TLC. If the adulterant(s) are inorganic maybe careful weighing and filtration will help fill in the picture. Here's cost comparison for an unnamed intermediate:

USA/Aldrich---------10g/$175 (any US City - straight to the door) USA/Spectrum-----100g/$675
China1--------------100g/$275 China2--------------100g/$345
China3--------------100g/\$250
No labor laws, no environmental protection,
Shipping & handling: Global Warming Shipping Associates
If you want to get particular you can look up your favorite reagent in the US or UK and request a quote an Alibaba.

[Edited on 6-11-2014 by chemrox]

"When you let the dumbasses vote you end up with populism followed by autocracy and getting back is a bitch." Plato (sort of)
BromicAcid
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 Quote: Originally posted by chemrox The bastards are skilled at find an adulterant with compatible properties.
I know! A classic example is chloroformates, when they come from China they are usually swimming in phosgene and hydrogen chloride! Doesn't show up on the GC or analytical that they send along but if you perform a TCD on it you have might have 4% hydrogen chloride and 10% phosgene!

Best adulterant found in material from China so far was a bung wrench. Thankfully it didn't make it into a 2000 gallon glass-lined kettle.

Speaking of Aldrich, yeah, they are pretty expensive for a lot of things. Problem is that they want to carry everything under the sun. I have personally worked on catalog items that sell 10-15 grams a year in 1 or 5 gram units. The company will usually decide to maintain a smaller inventory of the item so there are no issues with shelf life. So I will make a 30 gram batch of material. Now anyone can tell you this is not economical, economies of scale really kick in for simple chemistry. But that is how many of the non-standard items are kept in stock. If you talk to a sales rep you can sometimes get a custom order instead of several pre-packs and pay a lower price (sometimes much lower) price. So I understand why things are so expensive from Aldrich, they want to carry everything so you can order what you want and get it the next day. On the other hand the Chinese companies will offer to produce compounds that are impossible or next to impossible to produce because they have never attempted, they just say yes no matter what.

Edit: Note that there are qualified vendors from China that do reproducibly produce quality material. Just that finding those vendors can be quite a chore.

[Edited on 11/6/2014 by BromicAcid]

Shamelessly plugging my attempts at writing fiction: http://www.robvincent.org
Metacelsus
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Laboy Glass is one such vendor. I've never had problems with them.

As below, so above.
chemrox
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There should be a sticky on chicom vendors. DO NOT BUY from:
THDCHEM GROUP
International Chemicals Department Qingdao Branch
M:+86-18678936109 Skype:michaelzhang1017
E: sales@thdchem.com W: www.thdchem.com www.pharmathd.com

prices too good to be true. I've told lookchem and alibaba about them. Also complained to Western Union. Don't use paypal; they don't support chemical purchases.

"When you let the dumbasses vote you end up with populism followed by autocracy and getting back is a bitch." Plato (sort of)
arkoma
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I've dealt with Chinese suppliers for glassware only. Deschem and Sam100086 on eBay. I can't say anything but "Good Service" from both.

"We believe the knowledge and cultural heritage of mankind should be accessible to all people around the world, regardless of their wealth, social status, nationality, citizenship, etc" z-lib

blogfast25
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 Quote: Originally posted by chemrox There should be a sticky on chicom vendors. DO NOT BUY from:

This whole thread is a testimony to your near-vindictive anti-Chinese bias, from start to finish.

Try and accept that loads of people (like me) have had very positive experiences with B2B purchasing from China and that you're essentially indicting a whole nation. There's a word for that...

If you're serious about doing B2B business with Chinese suppliers then go over there, select and meet up with a few hopefuls and build some decent contacts.

I've had some poor experiences with a Polish chemsupplier: should I start a 'sticky' warning 'not to buy from the Polacks'?

Similarly my experience with some US Companies, in particular with regards to refunds, haven't been brilliant either. Ditto?

You claim to hate ignorance, yet seem intent on spreading it.

[Edited on 30-1-2016 by blogfast25]

Dr.Bob
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Anothe issue with many companies, but very common among the Chinese vendors is that many list huge lists of compounds on Scifinder and other catalogs, sometimes even claiming that it is in stock, but when you try to order, you find that often they do not have it, and if done by PO, they then state that they are out and it is backordered indefinitely. Again, some of them seem to be hoping for people that will pay in advance and hope to get it. The companies often then try to find someone to buy it from or make it, and often cannot. I have ordered almost a dozen compounds (out of 50 or more ordered) that have some back eventually with "we don't have that chemicals we claimed w had in stock a week ago, and cannot get it.."

One case was a chiral compound, which we had used the racemate of before, and 12 companies claim to sell one enantiomer, 8 claim to sell the other. Not one of the companies could supply it, a few said that they could supply it at a price of 10x what they listed originally, and with a lead time of 12 weeks. I am now trying to make it myself, from a chiral starting material and a simple few reactions. What fun. Published reaction does not work well in my hands. At least the 2-pyridyl fluoride reaction with an amine appears to have worked, so I am not a complete hack.
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 Sciencemadness Discussion Board » Fundamentals » Reagents and Apparatus Acquisition » buying from China Select A Forum Fundamentals   » Chemistry in General   » Organic Chemistry   » Reagents and Apparatus Acquisition   » Beginnings   » Responsible Practices   » Miscellaneous   » The Wiki Special topics   » Technochemistry   » Energetic Materials   » Biochemistry   » Radiochemistry   » Computational Models and Techniques   » Prepublication Non-chemistry   » Forum Matters   » Legal and Societal Issues