This a good article on getting stuff made in China.
The part about relationships is very important. Every deal is Caveat Emptor until trust is built up.
I think that when you are first starting out, the closer your production to your desk the better. It’s easier to learn from you mistakes when they happen next door or down the hall. People are more likely to come to you with problems if they can get to you easily. It’s also easier to plan the production as the design goes forward. That’s actually pretty important, because sometimes a small design change can have a large impact on how things are made. The shorter your turn arounds, the better.
This can be especially true of electronics, where there are sometimes “black magic” issues that creep into a design that create magic smoke issues(electronics was explained to me this way by a very good electronics engineer). This is especially the case if you don’t have a lot of experience. One thing I have learned is that even the best designed, breadboarded and prototyped projects can still have issues in the production version.
The power of China is the power of a cluster. The electronics center of Shenzhen is the largest cluster of electronics manufacturers and distributers in the world. Having all those options available can make for faster development and better products. It allows the prospective product developer options when he needs to get his parts made and assembled.
The downside is that China is far away and you probably will want expert help on the ground. Bunnie Huang has a very good guide for this. He also has a program for prospective entrepreneurs.
I’m not going to make any judgment calls about where and how somebody get’s their stuff made. Those decision will be different for each product. My goal in this series is to provide options as I find them so that people can make educated and good decisions.
The “Let’s Build” Series.