World of Tooling – Spotlight Japan and South Korea

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South Korean tool manufacturing and the tools

The tool and die industry is one of the most important industries in South Korea. The main centres of tool and die manufacturers are the cities of Incheon, Busan and Seoul and the states of Gyeonggi and Gyeongnam. There were 1,338 tool manufacturing companies with less than 10 employees in 2009. In 2011, tool production amounted to €4.5 billion. Since 2010, it has risen by 25% and thanks to a stable development of the manufacturing industry, the tool and die industry has evolved positively.

The automotive and electronic industry makes up for two-thirds of the customers of the South Korean tool and die industry, focusing primarily on injection moulding. In 2013, tools and dies worth €2.115 billion were exported, of which €1.365 billion were injection moulds, €704 million were solid and sheet-metal forming tools and €86 million were die casting molds. In 2013, South Korea’s import of tools and dies was only at €87 million, including €63 million for injection moulds and €18 million for die-casting moulds. The Korean trade of tools with foreign markets for 2014 is illustrated in Fig. 4. The largest trade partners for importing injection moulds are China, Japan and USA. Imports from China are almost four times higher than those of Japan. Injection moulds are mostly exported to Japan, China and Vietnam. The largest trade partners for importing sheet metal and massive forming tools are China, USA and Japan, while they are exported mainly to China, USA and India.

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The most important tool and die manufacturers are organised in an association known as the “Korea Die & Mold Industry Cooperative” (KODMIC). The South Korean tool and die industry profits from its cheap and effective supplier network of small and medium-sized manufacturing companies. They are a key enabler for producing highly complex and high-quality tools and dies. The South Korean tool and die industry is known for its fast reaction time as well as outstanding and flexible service.


  • ISTMA, OECD, UN Comtrade Database