Machine makers raise their stakes in South Korea

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At Koplas, held from 7-11 March in Seoul, South Korea, 485 companies from 24 countries participated in the show that spanned an area of 21,384 sq m. Around 89,000 visitors, with 2,053 from overseas, visited the show, according to organiser Korea E & Ex Inc. It was observed that local injection moulding machinery (IMM) makers have upped the ante with improvements while Chinese and Japanese OEMs have made inroads in the country.

Homegrown Dongshin in a “rebirth” mode

Dongshin Hydraulics has been rejuvenated under the helm of CEO Phillip Kim, who took over the reins seven years ago.

CEO Phillip Kim, who took over the reins seven years ago. Kim says the company has made a fresh start in the allelectric machine market.

“In the 1990s, when Chinese machine makers entered the market with lower prices, it was tough for locals to compete,” explained Kim, adding that Dongshin not only could not compete with Chinese OEMs but also the more established Japanese and European players that until today still dominate the high-end market.


Dongshin’s first foray in the all-electric machine market was in 1999 when it debuted at the US NPE show. But with lacklustre response, Dongshin realised it had to undertake improvements.

Thus, it went back to the drawing board and re-launched the GB (Great Birth) series in 2014, under a new logo known as DS (Different Specialty). And to instil confidence, Dongshin sold 160 GB machines on its home ground before introducing the GB on the international scene, at Chinaplas 2016 in Shanghai, China, and at K2016 in Düsseldorf, Germany.

At Koplas, it premiered the RB (Rebirth) electric series, which is customised for the South Korean market, with an 8% smaller footprint than the GB. Similarities with GB are the rigid machine body design for high production speeds, same clamping unit sizes, even though the RB is compact, and energy savings of 86%, compared to standard hydraulic machines.

Another new series at Koplas was the PL hybrid machine, with an electric-driven screw and controller and software developed in-house. According to Kim, most Korean machine makers do not place priority on the latter modules. “Without any control over this, the machine’s precision suffers and that is why we have developed our own PLC control and software.”

Also new is the smartphone app for remote monitoring, known as Conper. “It is the first step for us towards Industry 4.0. We are able to have access to the machine and build up our data; analyse operations and implement preventative measures. This allows our technicians to handle problems without being present at a customer’s factory.”

Kim is confident of response from the international sector. “Our CE-marked machines are more competitively priced, compared to Japanese and European ones, and have a higher standard than Chinese machines.”

And with Kim enthusing about plans to export 70% of Dongshin’s output, a new factory has been set up in Busan, complete with a technical centre. It has a capacity of 1,500 machines/year, which is much higher than the 500 machines/year it was making before.

Kim also said South Korea’s injection moulding machine market is worth US$400 million, but with electronics production having moved offshore, to Asian countries like Vietnam, the focus now is on the medical devices and cosmetic packaging sectors.

Kim also said South Korea’s injection moulding machine market is worth US$400 million, but with electronics production having moved offshore, to Asian countries like Vietnam, the focus now is on the medical devices and cosmetic packaging sectors.

The One from LS Mtron

Anyang-headquartered LS Mtron, a subsidiary of LS Corporation, premiered a redesigned two-platen hydraulic series, which it has rebranded from Wiz to The One.

To commence serial production by June, the machines will be available in 900, 1,300 and 1,800 tonnes, said Sung Chui Yoo, Research Engineer at LS Mtron’s R&D centre. “In the future, we plan to add on the 500-tonne and 3,200-tonne models.”


Sung also pointed out new features such as the retractable tie-bar and no guide bars, quick change barrels, servo-hydraulic pumps, and Keba multi-touch controller.

The machine is also able to handle larger moulds. “Previously, a 1,300-tonne machine could support a 19-tonne mould, the new model can handle a 32-tonne mould,” said Sung, adding that the mould weight represents 2.5% of the clamping force of the machine.

Other improvements include a boost to the system pressure from 180 to 210 bar, allowing a 1,300-tonne machine to have 30% faster dry cycle time of 4.4 seconds; digital instead of analogue sensors for the machine’s mould opening/closing, allowing a higher accuracy of +0.2 mm.

And with the new features, Sung says, the One might be priced higher.

Woojin Plaimm improves on tooling access

LS Mtron was not the only one exhibiting redesigned machinery.

Woojin Plaimm, which has a wide network globally, displayed a large 2,000-tonne two-platen machine that featured a retractable tie-bar for easier mould changes.

The DL2000A5 model, which was not running during the show, was brought to the show just to feature this new novelty, said Assistant Manager Lee Yong Ho, adding that the displayed model had been sold to an automotive parts maker.

The DL series, available in clamping forces from 450- 4,000 tonnes, is offered with the option of electric or hydraulic retractable tie-bars and is targeted at large part moulding, added Lee.


Meanwhile, in the 850 tonne-machine, Lee said, the company offered an injection unit that can be rotated out to facilitate easier and faster screw changes and machine cleaning.

Also shown was the 75-tonne VHA75RS vertical machine, demonstrating insert moulding. This machine also allows for easy access to the mould.

Toyo/Hyundai tie-up expands market access

Almost 18 months ago, Japan’s Toyo Machinery tied up with South Korea’s Hyundai Injection Machinery to allow wider coverage in the local and global markets.

Toyo’s Global Sales and Marketing Director, Yoshiaki Tabata, said the arrangement is mutually beneficial to both parties. Toyo specialises in all-electric machinery and has access to the local market through Hyundai, while Hyundai, that markets only hydraulic machines, will be able to offer Toyo’s all-electrics.

As well, Hyundai’s focus on the automotive sector is an advantage for Toyo. “We are now able to access automotive parts processors who will be able to specify all-electric machines,” said Tabata, adding that South Korean processors Yoshiaki-Tabata were adopting all-electrics because of the clean and precise operations.

At Koplas, Toyo exhibited what it says is its most “sellable machine”, the 280-tonne all-electric. “Most customers want this size but we are able to offer clamping forces of up to 1,300 tonnes,” said Tabata.

Meanwhile, Tabata noted the slowdown in investments from electronic giant Samsung, due to the economy and its internal problems. Echoing Dongshin’s CEO Kim, Tabata said that Samsung was targeting cheaper production and had transferred facilities to countries like Vietnam.

But he said there’s still room for growth in South Korea, from the rigid packaging and cosmetics industries.

Toyo also has its eye on higher exports, targeting almost 70% of its output. “Through our tie-up with Hyundai, we will be able to access companies, like Samsung, that are operating overseas,” said Tabata.

Hyundai’s focus on automotive

Hyundai sells an average of 450 machines a year with 40% of the total sold to the automotive market and the rest to the packaging, medical and cosmetic sectors, said Lee Byung Dae, Hyundai’s Managing Director.

At Koplas, amongst the machines it displayed were the EDIS-TG servo-hydraulic toggle series, available in clamping forces of 70-650 tonnes, and EDIS-TG the EDIS-DL two-platen series, available in 900-3,000 tonnes.

“We now offer electric servopump drives on the two models and this allows up to 60% energy savings,” said Lee.

Yizumi scores in local market

Chinese machine maker Yizumi Precision Machinery is a strong contender in the South Korean market, having upped its sales in the country by 50% last year.

The company, which was listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in 2016, was able to do this by having clinched a US$2 million order comprising 14 machines installed at Tier I car parts maker Korea Wecosta. The 15th machine, to be installed this year, is the 1,100-tonne two-platen machine shown at Koplas, said Yizumi’s Regional Sales Manager Michelle Chen. To-date, Yizumi has delivered to Wecosta machines with clamping forces of 120-1,800 tonnes, according to Chen.

“Our price is 10-15% lower than South Korean machine makers and it is because of this Chinese machine makers are able to have higher sales in the country. Plus, our machine quality is acceptable, especially for standard production,” she went on to say.

But Guangdong-headquartered Yizumi is upping its standards with better technology. At the upcoming Chinaplas show in Guangzhou in May, it will showcase a displayed-machine MuCell machine and the PAC450K high-speed machine, with 4+4 hot runner stack mould technology and IML labelling.

“The high-speed machine for thinwall moulding was displayed at the K show last year. We have now improved it for a more stable performance,” said Chen.

Yizumi will also set up a testing centre for the MuCell foam technology, which is licensed by US firm Trexel.


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