Interview KODMIC Korea: Positive future for the Korean mold industry
The President of the Korean Die and Mold Industry Cooperative (KODMIC) and also organizer of the Intermold Korea 2017 is giving a short overview over the Korean molding industry.
Could you please briefly introduce the Korean die and mold industry and what your goals for this year are?
Since the 1960s Korea’s mold industry grew continuously and reached an international level throughout the 80s and 90s. The Korean mold industry is an important industry for South Korea and could show it with the first trade surplus of 1,4mio US$ in the year 1994. Since then the exports and therefore the trade deficit could be expanded to its climax in 2014 with more than 3.2 billion US$. Korea now is the 5th largest producer and is the 2nd biggest exporter and grew to one of the most important mold industries in the world. The Korean mold industry worldwide is known for their good quality, reasonable price and fast delivery.
Nevertheless the global economic slowdown and the weak Japanese Yen had an impact on many Korean producers and the total exports slightly decreased. Korean producers put a lot of efforts in strengthening their exports by attending international exhibitions, and analyzing new markets.
What are the competitive advantages of the Korean mold industry?
Korean mold industry is stuck in the middle between the high tech nation Japan and low cost nation China. But Korean companies not only compete with the price, but also with their fast delivery and good quality. Especially the service is a very important argument for Korean companies, as they react very fast and always try to satisfy the customer. Even if Korea struggles with its price competitive neighbor China and Japan in the high end class, Korea still has some inherent advantages like trust, fast business processes and innovative companies that continuously invest in R&D.
What are the most important international markets for the Korean mold machine makers?
Of course the most important countries are China and Japan. Until 2013 Korea was the biggest importer of mold machines for Japan. But since 2014 China took the 1st place from Korea and the gap between Korea and China is increasing every year. KODMIC is supporting marketing activities for promising export countries like India, Iran, Mexico and other emerging economies.
Recently additive manufacturing is the hot issue. What is the reaction of the Korean mold industry to that innovation?
Additive manufacturing is a hot issue all over the world and also the government realized the importance of that new technology. Nevertheless there is no financial support so far. Additive manufacturing will bring a big change for manufacturers in the way they produce. However additive manufacturing and mold industry can be seen fundamentally different. Mold industry is an essential industry for mass production and additive manufacturing is for prototype, new product developments and small series production. In addition, even if additive manufacturing improves it production rate, it will be hard to catch up with the production rates of the mold industry.