Barton International

Metal Fabrication in China vs the UK: Direct Dangers and Intermediary Advantages


Learn about how your business can simplify the supply chain, getting the best metal fabrication solutions in China at the highest quality for the lowest cost.

Look inside the 2024 global market, and China remains a production powerhouse with its cost-effective solutions for mass production.

In other words, “Made in China” certainly still has a ring to it, especially when you visit the steelworks of the northwest and easterly provinces where metal fabrication reigns supreme.

But is investing in metal fabrication from China worth it for your business?

What are the benefits and risks?

And can you guarantee the same quality we can expect from UK metal fabrication standards?

Today, we’ll be discussing metal fabrication in China vs the UK with insights into Chinese supply chains and why hiring an intermediary might be your best solution.

Let’s explore.

Learn about how your business can simplify the supply chain, getting the best metal fabrication solutions in China at the highest quality for the lowest cost.

Metal Fabrication in China

To say China can build cities overnight is no mere exaggeration. The country has been on an unrelenting path of construction, with the urbanisation rate increasing from 53.7% in 2013 to 64.7% in 2021. An integral aspect of this development is reliant on its ability to produce metal like nowhere else in the world. 

From a diverse array of metal fabrication capabilities across disciplines like precision machining to sheet metal and welding, China is currently the world’s leading steel producer, boasting a 54% share of steel worldwide, while also sitting third on the list of iron ore producers behind Australia and Brazil. 

The main components driving the demand for metal fabrication in China span various industries, with automotive, aviation and construction as the main three.

Many countries worldwide continue to utilise China for its metal due to its skilled labour force and affordable rates, with Hebei being the capital steel-making province in the northeast. 

Beyond Hebei, you also have Shandong and Xinjiang, which play home to many of the country’s largest steel production companies.

Metal Fabrication in the UK

The UK has a long history of metal fabrication that peaked in 1875 when it was the largest steel producer in the world, accounting for 40% of all steel made. By 1880, British steelworks produced over 1.3 million tonnes annually and over 15 million tonnes of iron ore by 1875. 

However, when we bring metal fabrication into the modern day, we have a different story that resembles a decline in the UK and what some people call the “steel crisis”. Because, despite the UK still producing seven million tonnes of steel in 2019, on the other hand, China produced a staggering 996 million tonnes.   

Problems with the UK steel industry continue today, unfortunately highlighting an unstable infrastructure with jobs at risk and skilled workers forced to leave for better opportunities. 

It’s the latest episode in a long line of difficulties the industry has faced over the past century, where it’s lost its place in metal fabrication to the likes of China, Brazil, and India. All these other countries can provide the same high-quality steel in much greater volumes more efficiently and cost-effectively. Therefore, metal fabrication in the UK just can’t compete at the same levels.

China's Supply Chain Challenges

While China has fruitful metal fabrication opportunities, it can present numerous challenges to foreign businesses. From language barriers to cultural differences and business practices, not to mention logistical complexities and competition. All these factors can impede collaboration with Chinese supply chains and cause major business issues in the long and short term.

Another challenge is ensuring the product quality meets expectations with timely delivery and regulations compliance. All in all, despite China having abundant metal resources, it’s not always easy to source and deliver, especially when you have limited experience and minimal connections in the country.

However, just because you may have trouble navigating metal fabrication in China doesn’t mean you can’t still benefit from the supply chain by using a local and experienced intermediary.

Intermediary Benefits for Metal Fabrication in China

Intermediaries or “middlemen” harness a successful role in helping foreign businesses benefit from metal fabrication in China.

These benefits involve the following:

Network Access

Gain extensive access to metal fabrication in China networks and utilise established relationships developed already by your intermediary. Alongside the network access, your middleman will administer the necessary communication required for cross-border negotiations and logistics to ensure clarity and transparency for your business.

Mitigate Risk

With trusting, healthy relationships already established, intermediaries help mitigate your investment risk while ensuring the process runs smoothly. Plus, your intermediary will also know local regulations, industry standards and market dynamics ready to advise you with any necessary information.


Accounting for another mouth to feed can appear daunting and unappealing. However, the nature of an intermediary is to negotiate the best prices while minimising overhead expenses to make the process more cost-effective.

Gain Unrivalled Access to Metal Fabrication in China

At Barton International, we specialise in sourcing high-quality metal products from China for various UK businesses. Whether sourcing, stockholding or distribution, our supply chain management has over 30 years of experience trading in China with low-cost solutions guaranteed.

Our metal fabrication capabilities include:

  • CNC metal stamping
  • CNC metal punching
  • Metal folding
  • Metal laser cutting
  • CNC milling
  • Metal welding
  • Screws and fasteners

We can provide the highest quality galvanised steel at a competitive cost, with all our products ISO 9001:2015 accredited. This standard includes our diverse, quality-assured capabilities across metal forging, formwork, and casting. 

To discover more about how our metal fabrication services can support your business with the products and components it needs, get in touch today

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