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    Pen power: China closer to ballpoint success


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    Join date : 2015-10-25

    Pen power: China closer to ballpoint success

    Post by daeva on Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:57 pm

    It has sent rockets into space, produced millions of the world's smartphones and built high-speed trains.

    But until now, one bit of manufacturing had perhaps unexpectedly eluded China: the ballpoint pen.

    A year ago Premier Li Keqiang went on national television and bemoaned the failure of his country to produce a good quality version of this seemingly-simple implement.

    Locally-made versions felt "rough" compared to those from Germany, Switzerland and Japan, Mr Li complained.

    The problem was not the body of the pen, but the tip - the tiny ball that dispenses ink as you write.

    It might be something we take for granted, but making them requires high-precision machinery and very hard, ultra-thin steel plates.

    Put simply, China's steel has not been good enough. And it has struggled to shape its pen tips accurately.

    Without that ability, China's 3,000 penmakers have had to import this crucial component from abroad, costing the industry a reported 120m yuan ($17.3m; £14.3m) a year.

    But according to People's Daily, the state-owned Taiyuan Iron and Steel Co thinks it has cracked the problem, after five years of research.

    The first batch of 2.3-millimetre ballpoint pen tips has recently rolled off its production lines, the paper says.

    And once lab tests are completed, it's expected China could phase out pen tip imports completely within two years.


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