I believe that there are numerous versions of the 180mmx300mm (7"x12") mini-lathe, all with varying degrees of workmanship!
After quite a bit of research I found that a German company sells the Optimum lathe which is built in China to their specifications.
The features that I liked:
- Tapered roller bearings
- Larger motor
- Tighter tolerances
So, I took the plunge and ordered the Optimum D180 x 300 Vario version of the mini lathe . The supplier in Melbourne sent it on Friday, and it was delivered by TNT to me in Sydney the following Monday, excellent service.
I had no need to make any chips with the lathe, as I have a full size model as well, so I just switched it on briefly to test. The lathe runs very quietly over the whole range of speeds. I'm a happy camper so far!