Shenzhen Blog (page 6)

Precision Casting Factory Tour

Shenzhen Adventure Day 20

The precision casting plant was really neat! They have some pretty major clients, which you might be able to guess from some of the photos (but probably best if this doesn’t show up in the search results).

This factory uses the cutting edge technologies to make über precise components.

A precision mold starts with precision materials. The materials they make use of here are void free, meaning that there are no microscopic pockets or bubbles in the material which would make it hard to machine precisely.

Pretty sure this specific piece is tungsten.

The blanks are then given a rough CNC cut, and then brought to a precision grinder where a worker uses a device to trim all edges. The device scales all of the workers movements by a large factor, and greatly magnifies the part. A bouncing rotary tool allows the worker to grind away slowly.

The next step is an ablation process which uses a super high current arc to blast off material bit by bit and polish the mold and give it a mirror finish (if I recall correctly).

The polished mold pieces are very pretty!

The finished pieces are then assembled into a mold housing.

The parts are made by injection molding a metal powder into the mold. These are very delicately held together, you could easily snap them with your bare hands.

They are then forged at high heat, which bonds the metal, making it very strong.

Hmm… where have I seen this part in the wild ;)

Overall, this is a process you could hope-to-afford one day when either prices come down, your company is doing really well, or you are operating in a niche that requires it. Despite being somewhat inaccessible, it was really cool to get to see how it all comes together!

Furniture Factory Tour

Shenzhen Adventure Day 23

For Day 23 we’re going to take a look at a furniture factory. This is a HUGE factory; probably the largest we saw on our trip, spanning many many hangars. Unfortunately I didn’t take too many pictures at this factory.

We start our journey in the furniture factory with some basic processing of raw materials:

The beams get cut up into little pieces and glued together.

All done!

Did I mention that it’s a large factory?


Two Kinds of Leg

Wooden Leg

Resin Leg



They make a lot of varieties of furniture!

These gorgeous wood tables are all for domestic market! Too big to ship.

Chinese Massage Parlor

Shenzhen Adventure Evening 23

In the evening of the 23rd, we took a trip over to a local massage parlor. Before you crack any jokes about what goes on in the massage parlor (yes, that does still exist if you want to find it), that’s not why we went to the massage parlor. We went to kick back Shenzhen Style! No photos of this trip, for better or for worse.

The massage parlor is kind of like a rest and relaxation hotel. You can stay there all night if you want to. When we showed up, we had to give the receptionist passports in accordance with Chinese law for overnight stays.

When you get to the parlor, you split off by gender, and then you take a shower.

Next, there’s a large public bath (naked!) where you can go to enjoy some cool refreshing water, ice cold water, and steamy hot water.

Following your dip in the public bath, you get a robe and slippers and head on over to the main massage area. Here, you get a huge comfy recliner chair, the kind you could easily sleep in.

Then, a host comes over and offers you the menu, where you can order various beverages (such as watermelon juice or beer) and massages. Bunnie was trying to order a green tea for a very long time, because he kept on accidentally saying road fork (they both sound like “lu cha”).

Typically you start off with some light treatments, such as a foot massage or, if you’re feeling like it, an ear scrape (I wasn’t bold enough so I stuck to the foot massage). Then, you can get a larger treatment if you like, your choice of different varieties of back massage, such as a Traditional Chinese Medicine or Thai Oil.

As I was told it was the most traditional was indeed the Traditional Chinese Medicine Massage, I opted for that. A few minutes later, some doctors (of the tcm variety) came to us and led us to the massage tables.

Now, I want to reserve my language somewhat, especially when it comes to experiencing another culture, but FUCK EVERYTHING ABOUT THE TCM MASSAGE. It was horrible, horrible pain for like an hour. The doctor systematically found every pain and pressure point in my back and body and dug and jabbed them mercilessly. As I squealed in pain, the doctor only laughed and prodded more. If I had any secrets I’m sure he could have gotten me to reveal them.

For the rest of the week, my back was in pretty awful pain. I don’t think I’ll be back for a TCM massage again, but I’d go back for a Thai Oil Massage (that’s what you normally think of when you hear “massage”).

After the massage, there are some other facilities (such as ping pong) to hang out and relax with, but I think I was too much in pain to want to take advantage of that.

Overall, the massage parlor is a pretty good deal. For about 300RMB (around ~$50 USD) you get an overnight place to stay as well as massages and entertainment. Would definitely recommend it for your trip out to Shenzhen, but avoid the TCM massage.

South China Material City Tour

Shenzhen Adventure Day 24

With my back still in significant pain from the previous nights massages, it was time for the South China Material City.

The South China Material City is an industrial region situated in Shenzhen where you can go to get raw goods or materials in bulk quantity.

It’s basically a big outdoor mall where you can go into one of many vendors and find anything you need, from gears to leather. Everyone is very hospitable and there were offers of tea at some of the shops.

There was also some (very large) indoor malls, with lots of outlet priced goods:

There was also some more random stuff, like people drying spices on their shop fronts:

Or a seemingly abandoned amusement park:

You really could find anything there, from chemical supplies:

To raw plastics used for cables (something like $10/25 kg):

To clips:

That one is absurd – knives on carabiner clips to cut your rope?


Creepy Leathers:

Sewing machines – from new, to very old:

Tile carvers:

Papercraft store where you can get nice boxes made:

Lastly, there was cool finished good store with lots of cool electronics:

Overall, one of the funniest parts of the South China Material City was all the samples people were willing to give for free. I got clips, bracelets, ropes, fabrics, and many other things for free or very cheap. I almost made it into a game to see if I could get something at every vendor I stopped by. The odd thing is that when I contacted one of the suppliers to buy more bracelets (as gifts for my return) they never got back to me!

Manual Board Population/SMT Factory Tour

Shenzhen Adventure Day 25

When you make a lot of a board, you get a fully automated SMT line. But what about when you only make 5? Programming a SMT line takes time and is expensive. So you can do the dumb thing – do them by hand!

Yes, even though the components are tiny the employees are highly skilled with surgically precise hands.

When you’re getting hand done SMT, it’s obviously at a smaller scale, so things are a bit more laid back you could say.

E.g., there was a random cat hanging out.

First, schematics and PCBs come in and are marked up to help the workers place parts.

Silk screens get made to put the solder paste down.

Parts get carefully placed onto the boards.

The workers have really steady hands :)

Lastly, as with any SMT process, the boards get sent to the oven.

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