At last China manages to make their own ballpoint pens

Ballpoint pen tips will now be mass produced locally in China and replace costly imports in the coming years. (Shutterstock)

China, the world’s factory, has finally cracked the technology needed for making ballpoint pen tips, ending its reliance on imports, reports Xinhua.

After five years of trials, Taiyuan Iron & Steel (Group), or TISCO, said it had mastered production of steel components for pen tips.

Locally made tips will now be mass produced and replace costly imports in the coming years.

China used to spend millions of dollars in importing the steel, mostly from Japan, at  $17,000  (120,000 yuan) per ton, that used to go into the pen tips.

If one is wondering what the fuss was all about, making the tip of a ballpoint pen with clear writing flow, requires over 20 processes. The standards of quality of the steel are very high, which should be easy to cut, but not crack in the process.


TISCO took up the challenge in 2011 as part of a national initiative to develop domestic ballpoint pen tips. The R&D was difficult and they had to work hard to get at the right formula which they did by 2014-end.

And then, in June last year, the first Made-in-China ballpoint pen tips were produced.

“The pen tips were wear-proof with excellent writing effects and can completely be substituted for imported ones,” said Hu Shengyang, director of Beifa Test Lab. Beifa is one of the largest manufacturers of ballpoint pens in the country.

Now with the success notched up by TISCO, Beifa expects to completely replace imported materials in two years.

The pen tip dilemma is one that is endemic in Chinese manufacturing industry - weak competitiveness in core technology - and one that the government is trying to rectify through innovation.

China had pledged to become an “innovative nation” by 2020, an international leader in innovation by 2030, and a world powerhouse of scientific and technological innovation by 2060.

Taking a cue from this policy, Li Jianmin, technology director of TISCO, said: “We are committed to become the leader in industrial steel materials through innovation.”

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:50 - GMT 06:50