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Driving Force with a Ratio of About 1:100! A Review of Leading Mold Manufacturing Countries Worldwide and Major Production Regions in China

Views: 0     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2024-04-10      Origin: Site

As an important basic process equipment in the manufacturing industry, molds are mainly used for the production of related components and parts in efficient large-scale industrial production, and they are an important part of the equipment manufacturing industry. The mold industry is the largest horizontal industry globally and is widely used in various industries such as machinery, electronics, automobiles, information technology, aerospace, light industry, military industry, transportation, building materials, medical, biological, energy, etc. Approximately 60% to 80% of components in the aforementioned industries need to be processed and formed using molds.

The rapid development of the mold industry has provided strong support to the manufacturing industry. The industrial driving ratio of the mold industry is approximately 1:100, meaning that for every 1 billion yuan invested in the mold industry, it can drive the development of related industries by 100 billion yuan. Therefore, the level of mold manufacturing has become an important indicator of a country's manufacturing level and is also one of the important guarantees for a country's industrial products to maintain international competitiveness.

In the past two decades, China's mold manufacturing technology has made qualitative leaps. The mold industry has grown rapidly, and with the development of China's automotive industry, the entry of domestic brands into the mid-to-high-end market, and the rise of new energy vehicles, China has emerged as a world-leading mold power.

The world's leading mold powers are China, Germany, the United States, Italy, Australia, Singapore, and Japan. Next, we will analyze the advantages of molds in each country, as well as the main mold production areas in China.


Germany has always been known for its exquisite processing techniques and the production of precision machinery and tools. Its mold industry also fully embodies this characteristic. For the complex field of mold manufacturing, after years of practical exploration, German mold manufacturers have formed a consensus: the entire industry must coordinate, collaborate, explore and develop potential, promote innovation, progress in technology together, complement each other's strengths, and leverage overall advantages in order to achieve industry success. In addition, to meet the rapid development of new products today, not only have large companies established new development centers in Germany, but many small and medium-sized enterprises have also done so, actively conducting research and development work for customers.

Germany has been very active in research, which has become an important basis for maintaining its unbeaten position in the international market. In fierce competition, the German mold industry has maintained a strong position in the international market for many years, with an export rate stable at around 33%. According to statistics from the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) Mold Association, Germany has about 5,000 mold companies, with the mold output value reaching 4.8 billion euros in 2003. Among them, 90 member mold companies of VDMA account for 90% of the mold output value in Germany.


The production technology level of Italian mold companies is first-class internationally. According to Luo Baihui, Secretary-General of the International Association of Mold and Metal Industries Suppliers, applying high-tech to mold design and manufacturing has become a strong guarantee for Italy to rapidly manufacture high-quality molds. In Italian mold companies, CAD/CAE/CAM, high-speed cutting technology, rapid prototyping technology, and rapid mold making technology have become widely used technologies.

1.     The widespread application of CAD/CAE/CAM demonstrates the superiority of information technology in driving and improving the mold industry. In terms of CAD application, it has surpassed the primitive stage of drawing boards and 2D drawing, and currently, 3D design has reached 70% to 89%. Software such as PRO/E, UG, and CIMATRON are widely used. Using these software not only completes 2D design but also obtains 3D models, providing a guarantee for NC programming and the integration of CAD/CAM. The application of 3D design can also check assembly interference during design to ensure the rationality of design and process. The widespread use of CNC machine tools ensures the machining accuracy and quality of mold parts. Mold companies with 30 to 50 employees generally have more than ten CNC machine tools. Parts processed by CNC machine tools can be directly assembled, greatly reducing the number of assembly fitters. CAE technology is gradually maturing in Italy. CAE analysis software is used in injection mold design to simulate the molding process of plastics, analyze the cooling process, and predict possible defects during molding. In die design, CAE software is used to simulate the metal forming process, analyze stress and strain distribution, and predict defects such as fracture, wrinkling, and springback. The role of CAE technology in mold design is becoming increasingly important. After applying CAE technology, COMAU, an Italian company, reduced trial mold time by more than 50%.

2.     In order to shorten the mold manufacturing cycle and improve market competitiveness, high-speed cutting technology is widely adopted. High-speed cutting is a processing technology characterized by high cutting speed, high feed speed, and high processing quality. Its processing efficiency is several times or even dozens of times higher than that of traditional cutting processes. Currently, Italian mold companies widely use CNC high-speed milling in production, with more three-axis linkages and some five-axis linkages, and the speed generally ranges from 15,000 to 30,000 rpm. The use of high-speed milling technology can greatly shorten the mold manufacturing time. After precision machining by high-speed milling, the mold surface only needs slight polishing before use, saving a lot of time for grinding and polishing. Italian mold companies attach great importance to technological progress and equipment updates. The depreciation period of equipment is generally 4 to 5 years. Increasing CNC high-speed milling machines is one of the key points of equipment investment for mold companies.

3.     Rapid prototyping technology and rapid mold making technology are widely used. Due to the increasingly fierce market competition and the continuous acceleration of product updates, rapid prototyping and rapid mold making technologies have emerged and quickly gained widespread application. At European and American mold exhibitions such as Italy, rapid prototyping technology and rapid mold making technology occupy a prominent position. There are various types of rapid prototyping equipment such as SLA, SLS, FDM, and LOM, as well as institutions and companies specializing in prototype manufacturing services.

In Italian mold companies, many of them combine rapid prototyping technology and rapid mold making technology for mold manufacturing, that is, they use rapid prototyping technology to produce prototypes of product parts. Then, molds are rapidly manufactured based on the prototypes. Many plastic mold manufacturers use rapid prototyping to cast silicone rubber molds, which are suitable for small-scale replication of plastic parts and are very suitable for product trial production.

The plastics and rubber processing machinery and mold manufacturing industry in Italy are one of the ten specialized machinery manufacturing industries of the Italian Mechanical Manufacturing Alliance. The plastics and rubber processing machinery and mold manufacturing industry in Italy have more than 500 European patents, are highly specialized, technologically advanced, and diverse in products, while also providing various value-added services to customers. According to Luo Baihui, the average annual sales per capita of mold companies in Italy is over $100,000. Currently, the output value of the plastics and rubber processing machinery and mold manufacturing industry in Italy accounts for 16.5% of the total output value of the ten industries of the Mechanical Manufacturing Alliance. At the same time, the destination of exports of Italian plastics and rubber processing machinery and mold products still mainly focuses on the European Union, accounting for 47% of the total export share.

Italian mold companies have advanced technology and advanced management, which enable the production of large, precision, and complex molds, playing an extremely important role in promoting the development of industries such as automotive, electronics, communications, and home appliances, and bringing good economic benefits to mold companies.


The United States currently has approximately 7,000 mold enterprises, with over 90% being small businesses employing fewer than 50 people. Due to highly developed industrialization, the American mold industry has become a mature and technologically advanced sector, leading globally. Standardized production of mold steel has been achieved, and CAD/CAE/CAM technology is widely used in mold design and manufacturing. Advanced equipment is utilized for processing, inspection, and testing, enabling the development of large, complex, precise, durable, and high-performance molds. However, since the 1990s, the American economy has faced significant adjustments and transformations in the post-industrial era, coupled with strong international competition arising from cost, time, and competitive pressures.

Japan Holds Core Technologies

Japan has maintained its position as the world's leading mold manufacturing nation. At its peak in 1998, Japan's total domestic mold output reached 1.8954 trillion yen. However, over the following decade, despite fluctuations in annual output, the overall situation remained stagnant, failing to surpass the 1998 level. The number of mold manufacturing enterprises has also been declining annually. Japan not only controls core technologies in many areas but also holds the most profitable links in the industrial chain, leaving only assembly profits for most joint ventures in global markets. This economic model of "industrialization as a nation" is something Chinese companies can learn from. It's important to be vigilant against international hedge funds and capitalists who may manipulate public opinion, exaggerate losses, and seize opportunities to withdraw funds, which could have serious repercussions on global economic development if Japanese capital is withdrawn.

Due to the impact of global financial crises and major earthquakes, major users of Japanese molds, such as the automotive and semiconductor industries, are experiencing declines. Currently, many companies are operating at only 20% to 40% of their peak order volumes, with some factories operating only 3 to 4 days per week, and some have even begun to close down. Facing this situation, professionals in the Japanese mold industry are deeply concerned about talent loss, especially fearing that experienced talents, particularly older ones, may flow abroad. Talent outflow will negatively impact the future development of Japan's industry, making it a significant challenge for the Japanese mold industry and relevant government departments. From a civilian perspective, Japan has proposed six main development directions:

  1. Maximize the use of high-tech to enhance      digitalization and informationization.

  2. Explore new fields for mold usage, such as      various new energy sources, new materials, and medical and aerospace      applications.

  3. Extend the mold industry chain.

  4. Diversify operations.

  5. Update knowledge.

  6. Promote collaboration between industry, academia,      and research.

At the governmental level, Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry has organized the "Advanced Forming Technology Strategic Discussion Committee" and issued the "Advanced Forming Technology Strategy" guidelines. The goal of implementing this technology strategy is clear: to "grasp the lifeline of world manufacturing through mastering important advanced forming technologies."

China's Rising Stars in Automotive Mold

In recent years, the structure of China's mold industry, including organizational, product, technical, and import/export structures, has been developing towards rationalization. To update and improve equipment levels, mold processing enterprises need to import tens of billions of yuan worth of equipment each year. However, investment in innovation development remains insufficient. The overall research and development capabilities of the mold industry lag significantly behind the improvement in production capacity. Major issues include weak innovation capabilities, low overall efficiency, poor specialization, standardization, and commercialization, as well as inadequate collaboration. Mold materials and related technologies are also lagging behind. Additionally, the organizational, product, technical, and import/export structures of mold enterprises are not sufficiently rationalized. Compared with the international advanced level, the management of mold enterprises in China lags even further behind than technological aspects.

Looking ahead, the development trends of China's mold industry for the next decade include:

  • Development of large, precise, complex,      economical, and rapid mold products.

  • Continuous improvement in mold technology content      and reduction in mold manufacturing cycles.

  • Development of mold production towards      informatization, visualization, refinement, and automation.

  • Development of mold enterprises towards      technological integration, sophisticated equipment, product branding,      information management, and international business operations.

Currently, mold processing enterprises with annual output values exceeding 100 million yuan are mainly concentrated in the automotive body parts mold sector. Examples include FAW Mold Manufacturing Co., Ltd. in automotive body parts molds, Wuxi Guosheng Precision Mold Co., Ltd. in precision stamping molds, Haier Mold Company in large plastic molds, Tongling Sanjia Technology Co., Ltd. in plastic profile molds, Guangdong Julun Mold Co., Ltd., Jieyang City Tianyang Mold Co., Ltd., Hong Kong Longji Group, and Panqi Industrial Co., Ltd. Among these companies with output values exceeding 100 million yuan, foreign investment accounts for a considerable proportion.


Molds: The "Mother of Machinery"

Molds are often referred to as the "mother of machinery." Among them, automotive molds serve as the "vanguard" in automobile manufacturing. Automotive molds can be classified into five major categories based on their functions, including stamping molds and injection molds. Among them, molds for large car body covering parts, such as those used in cold stamping, are the most emblematic products in the automotive mold industry. Due to the complexity of the manufacturing process for large car body covering part molds, as well as the high requirements for size and surface accuracy, and the necessity for advanced CNC equipment such as five-axis high-speed machining centers, the manufacturing technology of these molds has long been controlled by multinational professional companies. Most of the molds for large car body covering parts used by domestic car companies have relied on imports. According to Luo Baihui, Secretary-General of the International Mould and Metal & Plastic Industry Suppliers Association, a top-notch domestic automotive exterior covering part mold base is quietly rising in Jinqiao, Pudong, Shanghai. Recently, it was revealed by Shanghai Seccor Automotive Mold Technology Application Co., Ltd. that the company has been diligently working towards its goal of transitioning from "relying solely on stamping dies" to "integrating both stamping and forming" in just six years. Currently, the company has established a product positioning mainly focused on large car body covering part molds, supplemented by multi-station stamping part molds, hot-formed ultra-high-strength steel plate molds, and progressive stamping part molds, and has preliminarily formed the development capabilities of car body covering parts, including side panels and fenders.

Singapore Focuses on IT Molds

Singapore, a small country with a population of only 3 million, attached great importance to and supported the development of precision molds in the 1980s and 1990s, issuing many policies that led to rapid growth in the mold industry and promoted the rapid development of the Singaporean economy. Singapore has over 1,000 companies engaged in various types of molds and precision machining, with a mold annual output value exceeding 4.5 billion RMB, exerting significant influence and playing a crucial role in the Asian mold industry. More than 10 mold companies are listed. Over 65% of the molds produced by Singaporean enterprises are tailored for the IT and electronics industries. Although the molds produced are not large in size, they are all of high precision and quality. Singaporean mold companies mainly focus on areas such as semiconductor framework/packaging molds, metal stamping molds, plastic molds, and silicon rubber molds.

Australia Seeks Stamping Molds for Automobiles

Australia has experienced rapid economic development in recent years, with a promising growth trend in the coming years. However, the manufacturing capacity of the mold manufacturing industry, especially for stamping molds, a fundamental industry, cannot meet the needs of economic development. Therefore, there is an urgent need to import stamping mold manufacturing technology and capabilities from abroad, and the Chinese mold industry happens to have a significant advantage in this regard, with a promising market outlook.

The software used for automotive mold design and manufacturing in Australia includes UG, Pro-E, CATIA, and Euclid, which are basically the same as those used by Chinese mold companies and can be shared. The CAE analysis software and simulation forming analysis software also have similarities. This provides favorable conditions for us to carry out Sino-foreign cooperation. The Australian Mold Association, Adelaide Mold Office, and Melbourne Mold Association all have high hopes for the Chinese mold market and manufacturing companies. This will create favorable conditions for China to export molds to Australia.

Major Mold Production Areas in China

The major mold production bases in China are Guangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Shanghai, and Anhui.

  1. Main Provinces and Cities and Their      Characteristics:

  • Guangdong: Leading the domestic mold market, dominated by      joint ventures. Guangdong Province has over 10,000 mold manufacturing      enterprises, employing over 300,000 people. The province ranks first      nationwide in terms of the number of enterprises, employees, total industrial      output value, and total export value. Guangdong is the most significant      mold market in China today and the largest province for mold exports and      imports. Over 40% of the national mold output value comes from Guangdong,      which leads other provinces and cities in terms of CNC equipment      digitization rate, equipment performance, mold processing technology,      production specialization level, and standardization degree.

  • Zhejiang: Plastic molds account for a large proportion,      dominated by private enterprises. Zhejiang Province's mold industry is      mainly concentrated in Ningbo and Taizhou. Ningbo mainly produces plastic      molds, while Beilun focuses on die-casting molds, and Xiangshan and      Zhoushan specialize in casting and stamping molds.

  • Shanghai: Dominated by the information industry and      automotive industry molds. Shanghai has over 2,000 mold companies      employing over 100,000 people, with an annual output value of nearly 6      billion yuan, growing at an average annual rate of over 20%. Shanghai's      mold industry will focus on six major industries and key sectors,      particularly precision magnesium alloy die-casting molds, precision      injection molds for the IT industry, automotive covering part molds, large      part die-casting molds, and multi-station progressive stamping molds for      precision stamping parts.

  • Jiangsu: Dominated by foreign-funded and private      enterprises. Jiangsu's mold industry is mainly concentrated in Suzhou and      Kunshan. Suzhou currently has over 1,000 mold factories and processing      points, with an annual sales volume of molds reaching about 5 billion to 6      billion yuan, making the mold industry one of the emerging industries in      the city. There are many joint ventures and wholly foreign-owned      enterprises from Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Germany, the Netherlands,      the United States, Taiwan, and Hong Kong in Jiangsu, and there are also      many private mold companies.

  • Anhui: Emerging force on the rise. Anhui Province      currently has a group of molds with relatively high visibility in China,      such as large injection molds for washing machines and air conditioners,      vacuum forming molds for refrigerators, and high-speed progressive      stamping molds for motor rotors, with some market shares exceeding 30%. A      base for mold standard parts and mold materials has also been formed. In      addition, the development situation in Shandong, Fujian, Tianjin,      Liaoning, Chongqing, and Hebei has been relatively good in recent years.

  1. Geographical Distribution of Mold      Enterprises with Annual Output Values Exceeding 100 Million Yuan:

During the 10th Five-Year Plan period, the Pearl River Delta region led, followed by the Yangtze River Delta region, and then the Bohai Rim region. Currently, around 80% of the molds in China are concentrated in these three regions. According to metal processing journalists, mold enterprises with annual output values exceeding 100 million yuan mainly focus on automotive covering part molds. Leading enterprises in various types of molds emerged during the 11th Five-Year Plan period.

For example, FAW Mold Manufacturing Co., Ltd. in automotive covering part molds, Wuxi Guosheng Precision Mold Co., Ltd. in precision stamping molds, Haier Mold Company in large plastic molds, Tongling Sanjia Technology Co., Ltd. (the first mold stock) in plastic profile molds, Guangdong

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