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Analysis on the development trend and demand of China's mold industry

Source: Browse:261 The release date:2024.06.20 [ Large medium small ]

Editor's Note

This paper expounds the development trend of my country's mold industry from three aspects, and briefly analyzes the future demand for molds from the automotive industry, electronics industry, home appliance industry and other industries.


1 Introduction

Molds are important and indispensable process equipment in the process of new product development. In recent years, my country's mold industry has developed rapidly and the scale of the industry has expanded rapidly. However, due to the late start of the domestic mold industry, there are still a series of problems in the industry, such as insufficient technological innovation, fierce market competition and lack of mold talents.


Molds refer to special process equipment that produces parts that meet the requirements of shape and size accuracy through processing methods such as injection molding, die casting, forging and stamping [1]. At present, there are more than 20,000 mold manufacturing companies in my country, and the growth rate of mold output value is stable. According to public data, the market size of my country's mold industry in 2022 is about 346.773 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 12.6%, and the output is about 26.3117 million sets, a year-on-year increase of 7.4%. It is estimated that by 2025, the market size of my country's mold will reach 380 billion yuan. After decades of development, my country's mold industry has initially formed three large agglomeration areas in the Pearl River Delta, Yangtze River Delta and Bohai Rim, and two medium-sized agglomeration areas in Chengdu-Chongqing and Hubei-Hunan. In addition to the above five regions, there are also some scattered mold industry agglomeration areas, but they have not yet formed a certain scale.


Since my country's mold industry started late and did not get on track until the late 1970s, there are still a series of problems in the industry, such as insufficient innovation ability, backward technology, fluctuations in downstream industry demand, and lack of mold technical talents. In June 2021, the "14th Five-Year Plan for the Development of the Mold Industry" was released. In November 2022, the State Administration for Market Regulation, the Ministry of Science and Technology and 18 other ministries and commissions jointly issued the "Notice on Issuing the Action Plan for Further Improving the Quality of Products, Engineering and Services (2022-2025)". At the same time, local governments have also successively introduced some policies and measures. In July 2021, the Chongqing Municipal People's Government issued the "14th Five-Year Plan for the High-Quality Development of Chongqing's Manufacturing Industry (2021-2025)" [2]. In September 2023, the Heyuan Municipal People's Government issued the "Notice on Issuing Several Policy Measures for the Development of the Machinery and Mold Industry in Heyuan City" [3]. The relevant policies issued by various provinces and cities on the mold industry mainly focus on the digital upgrade methods of the mold industry, mold material research and development, mold industry integration and cultivation, etc., which is also in line with the core essence and development direction of the new quality productivity recently proposed by the country.


2 Development trend of my country's mold industry

2.1 The research and development of high-end precision molds is the general trend

Molds are important process equipment in modern industrial production. The quality of molds determines the quality of products, and the quality of molds mainly depends on the level of processing. Modern manufacturing pays more and more attention to the refinement of products and has higher and higher requirements for product precision. At present, with the dual upgrade of consumption and manufacturing, products in various industries such as automobiles, electronics and communications have put forward higher requirements for mold precision. The development of the mold industry is facing new opportunities and challenges. The high-end and precision of molds will become the key to product research and development and production of domestic mold manufacturers.

In December 2023, the National Development and Reform Commission issued the "Guidelines for Industrial Structure Adjustment (2024 Edition)" (hereinafter referred to as the "Catalog") [4]. As a branch of the machinery industry, molds have been included in the "encouraged category". The "Catalog" focuses on encouraging the development of key molds represented by precision molds, multi-station automatic deep drawing molds, multi-station automatic fine stamping molds, automotive high vacuum composite precision die-casting molds, large wind turbine blade molds and composite material molds. It can be seen that the research and development of high-end precision molds will become one of the key development directions of the mold industry in the future.


2.2 The customized design capability of molds is further improved

Since molds are produced in small batches of single pieces, but the products they produce are often produced in large batches, molds are personalized customized products. Even if two products have similar appearance and structure, their molds have certain differences in structure. In recent years, with the rapid changes in market demand in the downstream industries of the industry, such as lightweight automobiles, the replacement of consumer electronics and communication electronics, higher and higher requirements have been put forward for molds. In order to accelerate the response to market changes and customer needs, the customized design and manufacturing capabilities of molds have gradually become one of the important indicators for measuring the market competitiveness of mold companies. In the future, mold companies will continue to increase their investment in mold design, R&D and innovation, and the industry market competition will intensify. Enterprises with backward design level, low process level, weak technical development ability and poor service ability will gradually be eliminated, and the industry concentration will be further improved.


2.3 The design and manufacturing process of molds is further intelligent

With the in-depth application of CAD/CAM/CAE integrated technology, Internet of Things and big data in the mold design and manufacturing industry and the development trend of industrial intelligent manufacturing, molds will develop in the direction of digitalization, intelligence, networking and collaboration. The introduction of technologies such as CAD/CAM/CAE makes the mold design process more accurate, efficient and convenient; the integration of technologies such as the Internet of Things and big data makes the mold processing process more optimized, safe and efficient. Smart molds will become one of the key development directions of molds in the future, that is, the mold industry will further enhance the integration of new technologies throughout the life cycle of molds, digitize the mold design process, optimize the mold structure, remotely monitor the mold processing process, make the mold performance more stable and reliable, and achieve predictive maintenance and repair during the use of molds. At the same time, the product quality and production efficiency of the downstream mold industry will also gradually improve, thereby promoting the manufacturing industry to develop in the direction of energy saving, material saving, green and intelligent.


2.4 The degree of standardization of molds is further improved

With the growing demand for personalization and customization of consumers, the development cycle of new products is getting shorter and shorter. As an indispensable link in the development of new products, how to produce qualified molds in the shortest time has become the focus of attention of all companies. Molds and their molded products have the characteristics of "yin and yang". A simple mold has dozens of parts at least, and hundreds at most. If each new mold is developed and processed one by one, and then assembled, debugged and tested, it will undoubtedly take a lot of time and money. At the same time, in the process of mold development, the product structure is often changed and adjusted repeatedly, which will greatly extend the production cycle of the mold and increase the production cost of the mold. Improving the standardization of the mold structure is an effective means to reduce mold processing hours, shorten mold manufacturing cycle and reduce production costs.

As of December 2023, there are more than 200 current national mold standards, covering various types of molds such as injection molding, stamping, casting, forging, extrusion and powder metallurgy. Regarding mold standard parts, the "Catalog" encourages the use of mold standard parts such as hot runners, nitrogen elastic elements, self-lubricating wear-resistant sliding elements and precision positioning mold parts. Compared with developed countries abroad, there is a significant gap in the standardization and generalization of molds in my country. As foreign mold standard parts quickly enter the Chinese market, making market competition more intense, so improving the standardization of my country's molds is one of the future development directions of the mold industry.


3 Demand analysis of my country's mold industry

According to statistics from the China Mold Industry Association, at present, the main application areas of my country's mold products are concentrated in the automotive, electronics, IT and home appliance industries. These industries often require precision tools or parts, and molds provide these industries with an efficient and economical production method. In the mold application industry, the automotive industry accounts for the largest proportion, about 34%, the electronics industry accounts for about 28%, the IT industry accounts for about 12%, the home appliance industry accounts for 9%, and OA automation and semiconductors account for 4% each.


3.1 The automotive industry has an increasingly urgent demand for large, complex and high-precision molds

In recent years, the total industrial output value of my country's mold industry has maintained a sustained growth trend. However, the level of mold design and manufacturing is lagging behind that of countries such as Germany, the United States and Japan. "In general, domestic low-end molds are basically self-sufficient, and even in excess of demand, while medium and high-end molds are far from meeting the needs of actual production and are mainly dependent on imports.

Take automobile molds as an example. At present, there are about 300 automobile mold manufacturing companies in my country, and most of them are small in scale and have limited technology and equipment. In the high-end automobile mold market, there are still few domestic companies with competitive strength. Taking plastic molds for molding automobile interior and exterior decoration as an example, the automotive field is the largest demand side for precision injection molds, and automobile parts made by precision injection molding account for 95%. With the rise of lightweight automobiles, new energy vehicles and intelligent networked vehicles, the demand for precision plastic molds will become more and more urgent. In sharp contrast, there are quite limited domestic companies that can provide precision injection molds for automobiles.


3.2 The electronics industry has an increasingly strong demand for small and precision molds

Molds are an indispensable and important technical support for the electronics industry. For high-performance and high-precision electronic products, the precision of molds is particularly important. The trend of fashion, miniaturization, thinness and personalization of high-end electronic products represented by smartphones and tablets is becoming more and more obvious. The speed of replacement of these products is getting faster and faster, and consumers have higher and higher quality requirements for these products, which undoubtedly puts more stringent requirements on the quality of molds, and mold manufacturers face more severe tests. Since precision molds can make the size of electronic products more stable, the performance more reliable and the appearance more beautiful, small and precision molds will become the focus of future demand in the electronics industry.


3.3 The home appliance industry has a strong demand for high-efficiency and low-cost molds

The home appliance industry is another important mold demand area, mainly used to produce various home appliances, such as televisions, refrigerators, washing machines and air conditioners. The parts and accessories of these products require a large number of molds to form. In recent years, the annual growth rate of molds required by the home appliance industry has been about 10%. With the continuous improvement of people's living standards, the demand for home appliances is also increasing. The characteristics of the demand for molds in the home appliance industry are mainly reflected in high efficiency, high consistency, long life, safety and low cost. In order to meet the above needs, home appliance companies need to strengthen cooperation with mold manufacturing companies to promote the digitalization and intelligence of mold design and manufacturing processes.


3.4 The demand for molds in other industries is diversified

Other industries such as OA automation, IT, construction, chemicals and medical devices also need to use molds to produce related products. Compared with industries such as automobiles, electronics and home appliances, these industries have relatively small demand for molds, but there is also a certain market demand. The characteristics of the demand for molds in these industries are mainly personalized, customized, special and professional. In order to meet these diverse requirements, mold manufacturing companies need to strengthen their technology research and development and innovation capabilities to improve the added value and market competitiveness of their products.


4 Conclusion

It takes at least several months and at most several years for a set of molds to be put into use from the beginning of design. Since the most critical factor in new product development is time, the length of the mold production cycle is directly related to the competitiveness and vitality of new products. How to significantly shorten the mold design and manufacturing cycle is one of the urgent problems facing mold manufacturing companies. With the accelerated pace of intelligent and information development in the manufacturing industry, my country's mold companies should focus on the entire life cycle of molds, target shortcomings, increase research and development efforts, introduce advanced technologies and equipment, stimulate innovation vitality, and make mold products develop in the direction of precision, intelligence, standardization, commercialization and low cost, thereby promoting the high-quality development of my country's manufacturing industry and meeting the new requirements of new quality productivity.

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