a small "ball"
Ball pens are widely used in production and life because they are easy to carry, convenient and durable. According to the China Pen Association, the production of ballpoint pens in China has reached more than 40 billion.
"In terms of quantity, we are a well-deserved pen-making country, but it is not a strong pen-making country." Chen Sanyuan, honorary vice chairman of the China Pen Association, said that although China's pen-making industry was formed very early, it started in 2011. Before the core materials and equipment independent research and development projects, from free cutting steel wire, ink to processing equipment can only rely on imports.
According to reports, the pen and ink are the key to the ballpoint pen, which is divided into the ball and the ball seat on the pen tip. At present, tungsten carbide beads are the most widely used at home and abroad. China has a good foundation, which can not only meet domestic production needs, but also provide a large amount of exports. However, the production of the ball seat, whether it is equipment or raw materials, has long been in the hands of Switzerland, Japan and other countries.
â€œThe production of a small ballpoint pen requires more than 20 processes, and the traditional process needs to be processed separately.â€ Chen Sanyuan said that in order to meet the export demand, domestic pen companies began to use the integrated production equipment of Swiss Mikron. To improve quality and production efficiency.
According to reports, the requirements for raw materials for foreign production equipment are relatively higher, domestic stainless steel wire can not be applied, and must rely on Japan imported free-cut stainless steel wire. At the same time, the matching inks should also be imported from Germany, Japan and other countries. As a result, China's current ballpoint pen production is the first, but the core materials and equipment rely heavily on the â€œå°´å°¬â€ situation of imports.
Wang Hongfu, the person in charge of the Zhejiang Wenyu Pen Factory, said that the use of foreign equipment and materials to produce stainless steel pens, the cost of enterprises is higher, as early as the 1990s, the import of a piece of equipment will cost more than 4 million yuan. In these years, the low-end profit margin of the industrial chain is constantly decreasing and the pressure is increasing.
Insufficient "internal force" eventually leads to "making a pen
According to reports, the production of ballpoint pens has high requirements for processing precision and material selection. There are not only small "balls" on the tip, but also five grooves for guiding the ink, and the processing precision is on the order of one thousandth of a millimeter.
Experts said that each small deviation will affect the fluency and service life of the writing. The opening thickness of the nib is less than 0.1 mm. Considering the writing angle and pressure, the ball and the tip and the ink groove must be matched. It has to be "seamless" and the machining error cannot exceed 0.003 mm.
According to reports, in 1948, China's first domestic ballpoint pen was born in Shanghai Fenghua Ballpoint Pen Factory. After the reform and opening up, driven by huge export demand, the pen factory has sprung up. However, due to weak enterprises, lack of scientific research platforms, and insufficient protection of intellectual property rights, the â€œinner powerâ€ of industry growth has been insufficient, which has restricted the pace of technological innovation and industrial upgrading in the pen industry.
Ding Haorong, chairman of Zhejiang Guanghua Stationery Co., Ltd., said that the company had developed a new pen. "At the time, when it came out, the net profit was 6 cents and 8 cents, which was very popular in the market. But overnight, more than 40 companies I started to produce exactly the same pen, and the profit dropped to 4 hairs per piece. This new pen was soon killed."
According to statistics, among the more than 3,000 pen-making enterprises in the country, there are only over 250 large-scale enterprises. Experts in the pen industry and heads of enterprises generally believe that our country can create spaceships and atomic bombs themselves. Why do we produce a small ball-point pen ball, but steel has to rely on imports for a long time? Not because of the difficulty of this technology, but because there is not enough motivation to study.
Chen Sanyuan said that the ballpoint pen seems to be simple. In fact, it involves all aspects of a national industry. Ink development requires chemical industry support. Production equipment involves mechanical design and manufacturing capabilities. Special steel products depend on the technological level of the national steel industry.
â€œCompared to the steel industry, pen making is an industry with a small amount of individuals. For example, a steel millâ€™s production per day may be enough for the pen industry to digest for one year.â€ Chen Sanyuan said that for steel mills, this profit is negligible. It has no incentive to engage in R&D and production, and pen companies do not have enough power to rely on imports.
Technological innovation breaks the dilemma of "import dependence"
According to the introduction of the China Pen Association, at the end of 2010, the relevant departments of the state specially organized research and launched the project â€œResearch and Industrialization of Key Materials and Preparation Technology in the Pen Industryâ€ in 2011. The state allocated nearly 60 million yuan to support relevant scientific research institutions. The company conducts scientific and technological research on central ink manufacturing, stainless steel wire rods and processing equipment.
After unremitting efforts, the project passed the â€œTwelfth Five-Yearâ€ National Science and Technology Support Plan acceptance in 2015, and achieved a series of technological breakthroughs. For a long time, the "import dependence" dilemma that plagued the Chinese pen industry has gradually been reversed.
Chen Sanyuan said that after we successfully developed free-cutting stainless steel wire rods, Japanese steel suppliers immediately lowered the price from about 125,000 yuan per ton to about 90,000 yuan. At the same time, we have also successfully developed two domestic pen manufacturing equipment, and built a demonstration production line of multiple inks and new structural pens. The price and quantity of imported ink are also falling.
Experts said that in fact, internationally renowned pen companies such as Montblanc and Parker have foundries in China, which proves that at present, the products of some well-known domestic enterprises are not worse than those of foreign countries. However, due to the lack of core technology, we lack the initiative from production and processing to international standard setting.
In the town of "China's pen-making", the town of Shishui, Tonglu County, Zhejiang Province, although it has been developed for more than 40 years, the town has a total of 739 pens and supporting enterprises, and the annual production capacity of ball-point pens has reached more than 18 billion, but most of them. The company is still engaged in the processing and assembly of the lowest end of the industrial chain.
Experts said that the problem of a small ballpoint pen is also a problem faced by many sectors of China's manufacturing industry. The pace of technological innovation cannot be stopped. It is necessary to increase investment in improving the platform for production, education and research. Our pen-making technology is improving, and foreign countries are constantly upgrading their technology. We must persist in catching up and surpassing it.
Chen Sanyuan said that although breakthroughs have been made in free-cutting steel wire and ink technologies, companies still need a process to accept new technologies and equipment. We are working hard to increase the promotion of new technologies. However, with advanced technology and equipment, to truly create world-class products, it is also necessary to cultivate a "artisan spirit" that is constantly improving. This is indispensable for China to move from a pen-making country to a pen-powered country.
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