China's first batch of steel wires for making 2.3-mm ballpoint pen tips recently rolled off the production line of Taiyuan Iron & Steel (Group) Co., Ltd. (TISCO), marking a breakthrough in the domestic production of stainless steel balls for ballpoint pens.
China, a country that produces 40 million pens each year and has more than 3,000 pen manufacturers, has long relied on imported core technologies — both for the stainless steel ball and its casing — from Japan, Germany and Switzerland. In the past, China has spent 120 million RMB ($17.3 million) annually on such materials. Both the machines and raw materials needed to produce ballpoint pens require precise technology, which has challenged the industry for years.
According to Wang Jinhui, a senior engineer at TISCO, such manufacturing techniques were a core secret in the success of foreign manufacturing enterprises. As a result, China had to develop its own original technology without any guide. Fortunately, after five years of trial and error, the development program, which started in 2011, finally achieved success.
The new product is currently being tested at the laborotary of BEIFA, a large stationary production group in China. A number of enterprises have already adopted the new technology from TISCO, and it is expected to replace imported ballpoint pen tips in the next two years.