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Die maker stamps path for growing markets to come

Interview - February 7, 2022

Having started out as a precision diemaker in Ohta city, Tokyo, Nissin Precision Machines has gone on to pioneer the use of cemented carbide as a materialfor its specialized press stamping dies. We spoke to president Takao Ito to learn more about how Nissin is repurposing its fine processing technology to support the vehicle electrification and semiconductor markets.

TAKAO ITO, PRESIDENT OF NISSIN PRECISION MACHINES CO.,LTD.
TAKAO ITO | PRESIDENT OF NISSIN PRECISION MACHINES CO.,LTD.

The Japanese manufacturing philosophy monozukuri was originally about craftspeople pursuing perfection on their products. In today’s world, it is also about responding to the market’s demands and providing added value in the products delivered. What is monozukuri for Nissin Precision Machines?

We offer products like progressive stamping dies, and we also make deep drawing press products. When creating them, we must think about a lot of elements. For example, the cost of the process, the quality of the product, the thickness, the hardness, and the elongation of the materials, as well as the lubricant that we use. We control all these elements to create these products.

It requires a lot of patience, so it is hard to deal with this kind of production. It also remains impossible to automate the whole process, which is why our technology can’t be copied easily. We have more than 7,000 dies; making them creates a value and then the stamping business generates profits as a result.

 

Japan’s population is declining, as it is an aging society, and there’s not many workers to recruit from anymore. How are you adapting your business to this issue?

In the mid 90s, we expanded overseas just to survive. Our supply chain was naturally incorporated with this decision and that’s why we opened our international base in Thailand. We created the high-value products in Japan, developing die-making technology and began their mass production overseas. The stamping business is done by hand, but we must look and see what is happening overseas and what is happening in the market.

 

Could you tell us more about the focus of your international strategy and which countries you see as having the most potential for future growth?

In terms of the stamping business, we must look to Asian countries because they account for more than 50% of Japan’s total trading. We are also trying to add value in the US through our R&D process with our American partners on the West coast.

 

What kind of technologies would you like to implement with that R&D?

Now we’re developing a business with CNC Freeform Tube Benders (NFB), which I can see is a big market. The feature of this machine is continuously changing bending radius, which conventional benders can’t do. Since we have three-way bending systems by extrusion process, we could easily make three-dimensional objects with tubes, which is very difficult for other companies. However, as we change the bending diameter, we must change the dies.

We got a patent for this machine in Japan, North America, and Europe, but that doesn’t really matter to us. We care about the software and data generated, as well as the material perimeter, because this differentiates us from others. We also have our own software that we’ve developed in-house.

 

Could you tell us more about the new technologies you’re working on now? Is there anything exciting that you would like to share?

Our new techniques come from die-making technologies, from the deformation process specifically. Based on it, we trying to make the software for our tube benders (NFB) more sophisticated. We also want to create a business model that includes an after-sales or maintenances business. Of course, we try to do monozukuri manufacturing, which incorporates people’s skills, such as design.

Now we’re thinking about carbon-neutrality, we are utilising materials like degradable and bioplastic, with 60% of material being recyclable. We’re aiming to reach Europe’s standards of carbon-neutrality. I will honestly say this transition towards carbon-neutrality is not good for us and the Japanese manufacturing industry as a whole. That being said, last  May, Toyota started producing hydrogen engine vehicles, which could be an opportunity because we can apply gasoline engines to this technology.

 

Which one of your business divisions do you see having the most potential for your business’ growth?

Based on our technologies, we want to expand our businesses, but it depends on market scale and growth. With that in mind, the stamping business has the most growth potential. This technology can be applied to the semiconductor industry or the next generation of vehicles, where Japanese companies have a dominant market share. Furthermore, this technology is also difficult to copy.

Our pressed products are incorporated into control units for semiconductor manufacturing equipment and the deep drawing technique is used for this industry as well. Their demand is increasing, and we can contribute to it.



The switch to EVs is a big change in the automotive industry. Can you tell us how you’re adapting to it?

Our technique is suitable for making EVs, which consists of three important elements: the motor, the battery, and the inverter. Extremely fine processing is required to produce these, and since we can do it, we can take advantage of this trend.

We control the measurement specifications by microns, which is required, and we’ve been doing it for a long time. Ten years ago, this kind of quality was not required, especially in emerging countries, such as China or Southeast Asia. But now the age of EVs has caught up to us. To create these products, collaboration with a variety of companies will be essential. It is also necessary to discuss technical issues with clients and the R&D department for our manufacturing process. Our target is Japanese tier one or tier two companies. We would like to find new clients, but it takes a long time to produce high-quality products using analogue technologies, so I will try to find a balance.

 

Could you tell us how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected your business?

We reinforced the automation in our production system, but we also saw a decline in our business, but it has been recovering. We were affected mostly due to the fact that we have facilities in China. Also, one of our main target markets is the semiconductor industry, which has seen increasing demands. We’ve received additional orders as a result of that, allowing us to overcome the difficulties we were facing. Additionally, many of our products are used for e-commerce and logistics-related businesses, which really boosted our sales.

 

What sales target have you set as part of your mid-term strategy for your business and how will you achieve it?

Within the next five years, we want to increase our sales and profit by 20%. Our focus should be on the semiconductor industry or businesses related to carbon neutrality.

Now we’re trying to invest our capital in our plants and machines, and we want to expand our factories in order to increase our productivity.

 

Could you explain to us the advantages of having your locations in Thailand, The Philippines, China, and the USA?

China is a market which is highly important for us, but so are Thailand and The Philippines. In the U.S., we can add more value to that market through additional means and not just what is created through the stamping business. What is important is to adapt ourselves to today’s flexible supply chain.

As I mentioned earlier, our business is closely related to economic growth. The rise energy prices and materials is occurring as we speak and soon there will be shortage of supplies, with this being a result of the rapidly aging society and low birth rate. Japanese-based companies can take advantage of this by providing long-lasting or energy-saving products. If inflation starts, perhaps manufacturing will return to Japan, which is why we must strengthen our analogue technologies, which take a long time to develop and can’t be replicated easily.

 

What goals would you like to accomplish for when the company reaches its 70th anniversary?

As an executive, I would like to increase our business performance, but I would also like for every team member of the company to be happy and live in a harmonized society.

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