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World of Tooling – Spotlight Japan and South Korea

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Japanese tool manufacturing and the tools

The Japanese tool and die industry is driven by the local automotive industry. 62% of the tools produced are supplied to the automotive industry and 7% to the electronics industry. In terms of value, the Japanese tool and die industry is the largest exporter of solid and sheet-metal forming tools in the world, with an export volume of €1.3 billion in 2013. In the same year, tools and dies with a total value of €2.6 billion were exported. After China and Germany, Japan is the third-largest exporter of injection moulds with a net export value of €1.0 billion. The largest buyer of Japanese tools and dies are the USA, followed by China and Thailand. Since 2009, the amount of tool and die imports has increased faster than that of exports. China’s importance for Japanese tool and die industry has continuously risen in this period. Germany does not appear among the top ten purchasers of Japanese tools and dies. The Japanese trade of tools with foreign markets for 2014 is illustrated in Figure 4.

In 2011, the entire tool and die production was worth €9.1 billion, which corresponds to an increase of 11% from 2010 to 2011. Currently, there are about 8,500 tool and die manufacturers with approximately 10,000 employees in Japan. More than 70% of the enterprises have less than 10 employees. These micro-enterprises represent approximately 15% of the industry output. There are about 80 companies with more than 100 employees, which provide roughly 30% of the Japanese tool and die production. The innovation, technological and process expertise of Japanese tool and die manufacturers is at a high level and comparable with Germany or Switzerland.

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