China's largest manufacturers in the tool and mould industry

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China's largest manufacturers in the tool and mould industry

Tool and mould making in China is benefiting from the positive development of its customer industries. Here we provide an overview of the most important players in the market.

The tool and mould industry in China had suffered greatly from the Corona measures imposed by Beijing in recent years. In 2020, the first of the three pandemic years, the total value of the industry in the People's Republic had fallen by around 34.5 billion euros, which corresponded to a decline of 11.3 percent compared to the previous year.

Now a painstaking recovery has begun, but it is not progressing nearly as fast as many had hoped. In this respect, the companies in China are not much different from the European industries in this segment.

Unlike in Europe, however, business is now developing very positively in several downstream industries of tool and mould making in China, especially in the areas of e-mobility, energy storage and car batteries as well as in the communications industry. So the outlook has brightened again for the "mother of all industries" in China, without which, as we know, nothing works. At least not in the manufacturing industry.

There are also similarities to Europe in the tool and product categories. The three most important fields of tool and mould making in China are:

In recent years, the Chinese government has published a number of strategy papers and set in motion support programmes to promote toolmaking and mechanical engineering. At the same time, the titles of these papers and programmes reveal that the aim is still to catch up with the technologically superior foreign competition.

A current example of this is the new "Action Plan for the Further Improvement of Product, Engineering and Service Quality in the Moulding Industry (2022 - 2025)". Where something needs to be "improved" with such calls from the central planners in Beijing, there is still a lot of work to be done.

At the end of last year, the Qichacha database already counted 221,141 Chinese companies active in tool and mould making. The vast majority of these, however, are smaller companies with only a few hundred employees, which are only active in the lower to medium price segment of products and are by no means eligible for orders in the premium sector, for example in the automotive industry.

At the same time, however, with the active help of the government, a number of "national champions" are emerging in this industry in China. With their high degree of automation, IT technologies such as CAD, CAE or CAM and 3D design tools, and equipped with a lot of money from IPOs, they are now very close to Western companies in terms of quality and precision in manufacturing.

China wants to seize the market for cutting tools

Below we present six of the currently most successful of these emerging "national champions" in China's tool and mould industry.

This giant among the Chinese state-owned companies in the tool and machine building sector is a wholly owned subsidiary of the FAW Group. The FAW Group is known in Germany as one of Volkswagen's joint venture partners in China. The company has been around for more than 70 years, but was last restructured and renamed in 1997.

The group itself is again divided into a number of subsidiary companies and spread over several locations in China. It dominates various sectors of the market with its offshoots FAW Mold Tianjin, FAW Mold Qingdao or Huaxiang Lightweight Technology Co., Ltd. among others, with state-of-the-art equipment and production methods.

The use of virtual twins with the aid of CAE simulations is just as much a part of the offering here as advanced cold stamping tools for steel or aluminium, thermoforming and complete tryout and "one-stop" production solutions for customers from the automotive industry and other areas of the manufacturing industry.

FAW Tooling's customers from the automotive industry include more than ten renowned manufacturers from Germany and abroad, including

The largest private company in the Chinese tool and mould industry has only existed under this specific name since 1996, but the company already has a history of more than 40 years under other names and in other constellations.

Today, TQM supplies customers in China and worldwide. An important focus here is also the automotive industry. Tools for the production of inner and outer skin parts of car bodies and complete equipment groups and processes are offered.

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One of the 33 subsidiaries, Shenyang TQM Aviation Parts Co., Ltd. is significantly involved in the construction of the first airliner C919 manufactured in China and researches, develops, produces and assembles components for all kinds of aircraft.

This large Chinese manufacturer of tools and plastic and injection moulds started in 1997 as a three-man operation with the company name Changhua Wire-Cutting Processing Shop, but has since experienced a growth story that is probably unique in the industry.

Specialising in tools for the electronics industry, just six years later CHT's more than 2,000 employees were supplying internationally renowned customers such as Konica Minolta Inc, Brother Industries, Thermo Fisher and the Chinese mobile phone and electronics giant Xiaomi.

In 2003, CHT won the "Shenzhen High-Tech Enterprise Award", in 2009 the "National High-Tech Award" of the People's Republic of China. A complete product line for medical consumables, offered by a subsidiary in Hong Kong, is also part of the toolmaker's range.

Listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange since 2010, CHT supplies customers in China, Germany, the USA, Japan, England, Brazil, Switzerland and many other countries around the world.

Chengfei Integration had emerged in 2014 from a subsidiary of AVIC, i.e. the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, a state-owned aerospace conglomerate.

The company's origins in tool and mould making date back to 1958, the first decade of the People's Republic proclaimed by Mao Zedong on Tiananmen Square on 1 October 1949. From the beginning, then called "State Owned Factory No. 132", Chengfei Group specialised in the construction of military and civil aircraft.

Chengfei Integration now combines, after a series of restructurings, not only the mould making equipment of Chengfei Group, but also many machines and technologies of carmaker Geely, as well as R&D centres and talents from Nanjng University of Aeronautics and Northwestern Polytechnical University.

In addition to tools and moulds for building cars (including Toyota, Volvo, Geely and Lotus) and lithium batteries, it also produces those for energy storage and CNC machine parts.

The beginnings of this tool and mould maker in Shenzhen, southern China, whose factory halls look just as sparkling clean and ultra-modern as those of any competitor in Germany or Japan, date back to 1993. That was when Hu Zuohan, a graduate of Beijing's prestigious Qinghua University, and his partner Ryan Huang founded the Shenzhen Brother Mold Factory.

A series of investments, restructuring, as well as a strategic partnership with the NGK Group from Japan have turned it into one of China's leading competitors in tool and mould making to this day.

Fully automated milling lines, foreign professionals such as the German manager Marcus Schlundt as division manager, an IPO in Shenzhen in 2015, and ever more investments in state-of-the-art machines and software solutions have ensured that Silver Basis now exports a large part of its products abroad, especially moulds for the automotive industry.

This emerging Chinese company builds stamping and forming tools for the automotive industry. These are in turn used to produce chassis, seats, roofs and other vehicle body parts.

According to its own information, the company is now the "number 1 tool exporter in China", although it is left open whether this is a question of the quality or quantity of exports. What is certain, however, is that Vision Tool & Mould has developed an impressive product range. It ranges from hot and cold forming tools to welding fixtures of all kinds to tandem and compound injection moulds.

The fast-growing company employs more than 200 engineers and 220 highly specialised toolmakers, who have 129 of their own CNC machines and 17 different presses up to a load of 2,000 tonnes at their disposal. The company's main foreign markets are in Europe and North America.

* Henrik Bork is Managing Director at Asia Waypoint, a Beijing-based consulting agency specialising in China. "China Market Insider" is a joint project of the Vogel Communications Group, Würzburg, and Jigong Vogel Media Advertising in Beijing.

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China's largest manufacturers in the tool and mould industry

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