China is the world’s largest maker of ballpoint pens, manufacturing about 38 billion of them a year, and yet it has never been able to figure out how exactly to make a pen tip on its own, until now that is.
Taiyuan Iron & Steel (TISCO) has proclaimed that following five years of painstaking research and development it has finally mastered the delicate art of producing the pen tip.
While in your hand a ballpoint pen may seem simple enough, in fact the tiny tip is a complex mechanism that requires extremely high precision and top-quality steel to make. Unable to reach such lofty standards domestically, Chinese manufacturers have been forced to import stainless steel in from Japan, at a cost of around $17 million a year.
But TISCO tells Xinhua that this will soon no longer be necessary. The company said that its first batch of made-in-China 2.3-millimeter tips are ready for mass production and will replace imports completely within two years.
The breakthrough follows repeated grumblings from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang who has lamented the fact that China can produce spacecraft, high-speed railways and aircraft carriers — not to mention half the world’s steel — but making a decent pen tip still eluded the burgeoning superpower.
From 2011 to 2014, Beijing invested about 60 million yuan into solving this embarrassing issue, but it still took years before they finally saw results and TISCO made its breakthrough.
At last, Premier Li will be able to write his name with pride.
Matt Bonini contributed to this story
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