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Molding services target upmarket with high-grade variants

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Hot runner mold-making service

Chongqing Sky's plastic injection mold with an LKM base has a lifespan exceeding 600,000 shots.

Makers are strengthening the line to improve overseas competitiveness amid climbing demand.

China suppliers offering molding services are boosting the development of high-grade units to close the gap with foreign players and keep up with the rapidly expanding global industry. Stepping up from low-end and midrange products, makers continue to improve quality, reduce costs and shorten turnaround time, which is 30 to 50 percent longer than foreign counterparts’ manufacturing period. They are also looking to raise the standardization grade currently at less than 30 percent as opposed to 70 to 80 percent of advanced countries.

To align with international norms, local enterprises are considering the use of uniform mold parts, which can streamline the process by 25 to 40 percent. Many are moving toward large-scale, multifunction composite and modular molds. Fast-speed multiposition and progressive compound high-precision variants are also included. These would enable enterprises to advance from single set weights of up to 120 tons with 0.3 to 0.5µm machining accuracy and 300 to 400 million shots.

So far, companies’ R&D efforts have yielded sophisticated varieties adopting intelligent control technologies. These constitute elevated-precision stamping models, which can match 2,500rpm punch presses. Multifunction and compound kinds that can achieve multimaterial and one-step forming are likewise available.

Many suppliers employ hot runner, multiposition progressive die and CAD/CAM. Others turn to digital applications such as CAE, CAPP, ERP and PLM, or to fast-speed machining, virtual and standardized production, and reverse and concurrent engineering.

China currently has about 25 percent share of global molding sales, which have stayed at more than $65 billion in past years. In 2010, the country achieved $1.8 billion.

Local businesses are boosting competitiveness and sales by expanding into the aerospace, new energy, PC and networking sectors.

These new bases are forecast to spur growth further, with the country’s sales and exports to hit $27 billion and $4 billion by 2015. Consumer and automotive electronics and railway systems are the other main markets.

China’s molding industry boasts about 30,000 companies. The suppliers are spread over 50 areas, with Guangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui provinces, Shanghai and Chongqing municipality as the key locations.

Guangdong has the largest number of makers, including China’s top 10 and leading players in Asia and the world. The area accounts for nearly 40 percent of the country’s total production value and the bulk of exports. Dongguan gathers more than 1,000 enterprises, which collectively achieved $3.1 billion in 2010. The city is instrumental in establishing and revising up to 205 international, national, industry-specific and local standards. These cover the area’s key industries, including electronic information, food, hardware, building materials, textiles and clothing, and electrical machinery.

Suzhou in Jiangsu plays host to more than 1,000 suppliers. It has annual sales of $784 million to $941 million, making molding one of the area's emerging segments.

In Shanghai, there are about 1,500 operations with a combined 70,000-strong workforce. In 2006, total production value was $15.7 million, growing at an annual rate surpassing 20 percent. Last year, it reached $3.1 billion and that of exports $941 million. The local industry concentrates on the IT and automotive sectors. About 70 enterprises focus on the second application, targeting to exceed the $314 million yield by 15 percent by year-end.

Chongqing, meanwhile, is an emerging hub in western China. Its molding segment has been accelerating pace with the area’s automotive electronics, IT, bioplastic and heavy chemical segments. At the Western China International Machine Tool and Die Technology and Equipment Exhibition held in the municipality in March this year, the local molding industry secured signed up contracts hitting $7.8 million and $12.5 million intention projects.

The majority of companies in China conduct medium-scale operations, which include mold designing. Most accept OEM and ODM orders.

Many adopt mainly arc spraying and CNC high-speed machining technologies.

Advanced equipment such as CNC systems and lathes, and electric discharge, milling, grinding, drilling and wire-cutting tools are imported from the US, Japan and Europe. Production follows ISO 9000:2000 and 14000:2004 guidelines.

Molding services & applications

The line in China comprises stamping die, and injection, casting, die-casting, forging, rubber tire and glass molds. Plastic types account for about 43 percent of output, followed by the first with 37 percent. Die casting owns a 10 percent share.

In terms of application, automotive electronics is the fastest-growing sector, representing about 30 percent of output. This is driving demand for large-scale automation, intelligent and fast-speed molding, and two- and four-piece versions.

Chongqing Sky Precision Mould Co. Ltd concentrates on automotive electronics and three other key segments, namely telecom products, home appliances and universal machinery. Specializing in plastic mold and precision plastic components, the maker offers one-stop and turnkey solutions covering product design, mold fabrication, injection molding and secondary processing to assembly of finished devices. Its 18 lines have a monthly capacity of 5.4 million pieces. The supplier exports 30 percent of yield to the US and Europe.

Mold steel is the main material used by China companies. It can be classified into cold, hot-working die and plastic molding kinds. The first consists of Cr12 (D3), Cr2WMn (01), Cr12MoV and Cr12Mo1V1 (D2). Hot-working die steel types cover 4Cr5MoSiV1 (H13), 3Cr2W8V, 5CrNiMo and 5CrMnMo, and plastic molding variants S50C, S45C, 3Cr2Mo (P20), 3Cr2NiMnMo (718) and 10Ni3MnCuAl.

Makers turn to local inputs for low-end models, and to Japan, Germany and Sweden companies for upscale units.

Mold prices depend on the materials used, machining complexity, and product specifications and life span. The material and processing represent about 50 percent of total costs.

Suppliers expect quotes to climb by 10 percent in the coming year due to rising input and labor spending and the yuan’s appreciation.

Taiwan: Molding, die casting target various applications

Hot runner mold-making service

The Static Mixer Mold from Chyi Ching is available in double-color plastic injection.

Taiwan companies offer plastic injection, sand and die-casting molding, and stamping, forging and extrusion die-casting services. They cater to the auto parts, consumer electronics, computer and telecom, toy, medical and sports equipment, and home appliances sectors.

In addition, there are makers such as Nishoku Technology Inc. that can provide double color and injection molding. The supplier achieves this by combining two plastic materials, two metal types, silicon and plastic, or plastic and metal. Nishoku sees double injection as an emerging category that can be widely used in computer, communication devices, and consumer and automotive electronics.

Manufacturers are undertaking measures to follow “green” trends. Businesses are now adopting lightweight tooling and reducing the use of runner materials.

Makers conduct volume production and customization, carrying out vertically integrated operations. They also handle printing, coating and finishing processes. Reverse engineering is adopted.

Plastic injection covers ABS, PP, PE, PS, PMMA, PA, POM, PBT, PC and PPO.

CNC, milling, surface grinding and EDMs are the major types of tooling machines used. The first involves mainly 3 and 5-axis types.

Factories also have wire-cutting, sandblasting, molding presser, stamping, drilling, lathe and sawing equipment, vacuum dryers, and NCT tooling and spot welding apparatus. For tooling design, suppliers utilize CAD, CAE, CAM, AutoCAD, Pro/E, SolidWorks and Moldex3D. The last is a true 3D-based injection molding simulation software.

Nishoku employs AutoCAD, MPI, MPA, Climatron, UG, and Swiss GF+ molding machines. The company’s facilities include CNC, wire electrical discharging, wire-cutting, and optical coordinate and coordinate measuring equipment.

Metal and plastic constitute the raw material requirement. Billet and plastic pellets are the key inputs in mold making. To ensure steady supply, enterprises keep long-term relationships with providers.

Taiwan’s tooling companies are mainly located in Taipei and Taichung. Others are in mainland China to be close to the majority of systems integrators that relocated there. Regardless of manufacturing site, the key overseas markets of these enterprises are the mainland, India, the US and Thailand.

The island continues to leverage more than 20 years of experience in the line and underscores fast delivery, flexible production and strong tooling design capability.

Product gallery

Hot runner mold-making service

Chun King Technology Co. Ltd

Model: Mold Design/Mold Building
Description: 1x4, 1x6, 1x8 cavity; P20, NAK80 mold steel; 300,000 shots life span; AutoCAD, Pro/E, Mold Flow; single, double, RHCM, IMF, IMD designs; OEM/ODM orders accepted

Hot runner mold-making service

Mony Industrial Co. Ltd

Model: Mold Building
Description: Single-, double- and triple-shot injection; for household appliances, hand tools, automotive parts; laser etching; printing with assembly; 560x550x600mm; OEM orders accepted

Hot runner mold-making service

Shanghai Intco Industries Co. Ltd
(mainland China)

Model: INT-MLD-173-II-06
MOQ: 4,000m
Delivery: 15 days
Description: Recycled materials; various designs, colors, patterns, sizes available; custom specifications accepted

Hot runner mold-making service

Shenzhen Mingbocheng Metal Ware & Model Co. Ltd
(mainland China)

Model: SJH-1 10*5*25
Description: Compression mold spring; chrome alloy; 100 times spring travel per 1min; various loading capacity, lengths, diameters available; 1 million times life span per JIS, 3 million per ISO 10243

Hot runner mold-making service

Sun Strong Precision Metal International Ltd
(Hong Kong)

Model: Metal-truck Loading
Description: Mold making for metal slides for truck loading platforms; stainless steel 316; 680x100x4mm

Hot runner mold-making service

Sunny Mold & Plastic Products Co. Ltd
(mainland China)

Model: SNM093-06
MOQ: 3,000 units
Delivery: 15 days
Description: Injection mold; PE; 1x1 cavity; LKM base; 1 million shots life span; Hasco hot runner system; 400x500x320mm; 440kg

Note: All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.

Disclaimer: All product images are provided by the companies interviewed and are for reference purposes only. Those product images featuring products with trademarks, brand names or logos are not intended for sale. We, our affiliates, and our affiliates' respective directors, officers, employees, representatives, agents or contractors, do not accept and will not have any responsibility or liability for product images (or any part thereof) which infringe on any intellectual property or other rights of a third party.

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