The differences between original equipment manufacturers (OEM), value-added resellers (VAR) and aftermarket suppliers vary wildly. These three different places to buy replacement parts each have their differences, most significantly in price and quality.
When sprayers are let down by their products or when a wearing part finally quits, it is tempting to buy the cheapest part available to get up and running as soon as possible. Sometimes, people opt to buy an aftermarket part, rather than the name-brand version. These aftermarket parts can be a little cheaper than their name brand alternative, however, they are always a gamble.
What are OEMs?
Original equipment manufacturers make the original part that goes in name-brand products. As an example, say company A makes a nose cone that goes on a Wagner powder gun, company A is the OEM. These are high quality parts that are designed to work exactly as intended and they are noticeably better quality than aftermarket parts - more on those later.
Finally, OEMs are business to business sales. The parts OEMs make go to consumers through a middleman - like CET. Wagner buys spares from company A, Wagner sells it through CET to a customer.
What is a value-added reseller and how are they different than aftermarket resellers?
VARs sell products to end consumers, CET is a VAR. The “value” we add includes customization, support, troubleshooting and other products. These parts are the same high quality that units come with and the safest option when ordering replacement parts.
The alternative to buying VAR parts would be buying aftermarket parts. There is, however, a catch to this option. A ton of aftermarket parts come from outside the US or EU, where trademark regulations can be lax or nonexistent. That means people can make parts that look, feel and even work like the real thing.
Most of the time, these parts are copies, using similar molds and similar materials. Similar being the key word. For these rogue manufacturers, making as many parts as possible as cheap as possible is the top priority.
The spray industry is far from the only industry tempted and hurt by these products. Construction Engineering & Metal Building, a Pittsburgh based company, published a warning in 2019 about Chinese steel.
CEMB found Chinese steel to be “unsafe” and “not cost effective”, due to frequent failure and constant replacement. Parts can have the same drawbacks for the same reasons: cost cutting, corner cutting and quality cutting.
For powder coating especially, where sprayers are working with electricity, aftermarket parts can be especially dangerous.
In the end, these drawbacks - in combination with long ship times - make aftermarket parts a gamble.
Obviously ordering something from Shanghai is going to take a lot longer to arrive than ordering something from Chicago. If it even makes it to the buyer at all.
Foreign sellers can lie about what is in their package to pay lower shipping fees through customs when it comes into the US. If the order is caught, buyers are held responsible to make up the difference.
Should you buy aftermarket parts?
Obviously, CET would prefer you to buy parts through us for a few reasons:
- We want to stay in business
- We want customers to be safe
- We want customers to save as much money as possible
- We want customers to spray as much as they can as long as they can
Next time a wearing part breaks down, save time, save money and buy the real thing. It is rarely worth relying on something that is not up to snuff.