I am a brand name tool snob, and make no apologizes for it. The same applies to parts, components, equipment and so forth.
Let me explain what I mean.
I have been planning out a couple of project and equipment purchases, and have been painstakingly selecting everything.
I don’t mind private label brands too much, such as industrial suppliers’ store brands. But for the most part I stick to brands I know and can buy again.
For example, I’m looking to buy a simple air line filter, with 1/4″ NPT threads and moisture trap.
There are plenty of cheap ones on Amazon, ebay, and elsewhere, many with gibberish-sounding names
Shown at the top of the page is a Norgren FRL (filter, regulator, lubricator) combination unit. I wasn’t too familiar with the brand, but went with that brand. I can find it at industrial suppliers, and I quickly found datasheets to help me hone in on exactly what I need.
This is a “Pudusi” branded air filter and regulator combo, as found on Amazon. They have other brands unfamiliar to me, such as Hromee, Wosudim, and Quickun. Are these reputable brands and products? It’s hard to say.
I can’t find websites for the brands, or full spec sheets. They’re not sold at typical industrial part suppliers, only online marketplaces such as Amazon, ebay, and Walmart.
Maybe it’s unfair, but I will immediately dismiss such brands.
For tools and parts, I like repeatability and reputation. If something goes wrong, is there a customer service department I can call or write to? If I need more in the future, will the brand have it, and will it be compatible with existing purchases?
I have stuck with SMC for air fittings and components, and brands like Bimba for cylinders. I went with MSC and Zoro for air valves, and Automation Direct for fittings and tubing.
While MSC and Zoro’s private label parts can’t be found on external websites, they have great customer service, and it was hard to argue against the cost differential. For certain things, comparable parts from other industrial brands can cost several times more.
I need a hook spanner wrench for installing a lock nut ring. I’m considering McMaster Carr, which contradicts a lot of what I’m saying because they don’t disclose brand names on their catalog pages, and also known brands such as Williams and Proto.
Maybe it’s time I buy an adjustable set, such as the Williams shown above.
Sure, I can get more for my money with a brand like “AYQWE,” but can I trust the brand? Do they stand behind their products? What about “ATNHYING”?
I’ve been planning out a CNC control cabinet, and need a disconnect switch. In some hobbyist builds online, they use random parts sourced from ebay and elsewhere. I understand that online marketplaces present less expensive options, but are they built to the same standards?
What about emergency stop switches? Am I supposed to trust a brand like LGKJYKA that only seems to be available in online marketplaces?
Sometimes there’s not much choice. I recently needed silicone-jacketed wire, and a particular seller on Amazon seemed to have been the best choice. They have a website and seem to specialize in wire, and so I placed a small order to check them out. Otherwise, I prefer brand name for wire and cables, such as Southwire, Alpha, Belden, and the USA-made machine tool wire that Automation Direct carries.
I’ve been a tool snob for a while, and don’t see anything wrong with it. I might bend a little when it comes to non-critical components, but for the most part I prefer to know exactly what I’m getting, who to turn to in case of problems, and where I can buy the same thing of the same quality in the future.
Think of it this way: Would you buy meat from a street vendor that you’ve never seen before? If they part outside of your building every day for five years, that’s different.
I see nothing wrong with others’ choices to buy whatever is cheapest, but I seem to be inherently incapable of doing the same.
I mention all this because my current project has an increasingly costly parts list, and would say that this rationale is a big part of it.