China Perfects the Art of Making Ballpoint Pens
China has finally mastered the art of making ballpoint pens. Although the country is the world's largest manufacturer of ballpoint pens and makes nearly 38 billion units every year, China still had to import the steel required for making the pen tips from Japan.
The state enterprise Taiyuan Iron and Steel Group (TISCO) conducted various experiments for producing the right type of steel required for making tips. The company announced on Tuesday that it is ready to mass produce the first batch of 2.3 mm tips. And it is expected that the country will be able to replace the imports entirely within two years.
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Wang Huimian, a senior engineer at TISCO, told Xinhua that the initial breakthrough was made in 2014. The company produced its first pen tips in June last year. Li Jianmin, technology director of TISCO, said, "We are committed to become the leader in industrial steel materials through innovation."
The malady of ballpoint tip was brought into spotlight by Premier Li Keqiang last year. He had complained that Chinese ballpoint felt "rough" in comparison with the ones bought from abroad. Until now, the Chinese penmakers were required to import the tips, costing roughly $17.3 million yuan to the industry.
The making of a ballpoint tip requires high quality, very hard steel plates. These plates are also required to be ultra-thin to allow precise ball designing. It also required the addition of special microelements to liquid steel for making high quality tip. However, the country had been unable to reach that stage of precision until now.