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Metal Casting Technologies : September 2005
MACHINE TOOLS INDUSTRY A LEADING SECTOR IN KOREA KOREA Over the past five years, the machine tools industry has been regarded as a leading industry sector in Korea. At the start of the post 1997 economic upturn, the first priority for Korean manufacturers was to invest in new or additional machine tools in order to renovate and replace existing facilities and develop new products. The Korean CNC machine tools industry has been led by investment in production facilities in major manufacturing industries such as automobiles, power generation, shipbuilding, telecommunications, construction equipment and electronics, including semiconductors. In particular, many companies of all sizes have invested in factory automation that accounts for a growing market demand for CNC machine tools. Korea's market for machine tools has shifted from standard, cost-effective or general products to high-precision, high-speed and high-powered machine tools. In line with this trend, market demand for computerised numerically controlled (CNC) machine tools has rapidly increased. CNC cutting machines, including lathes, milling machines, turning centres, machining centres and grinding machines, represented 48 percent of total domestic machine tools demand in 2004. CNC finishing and processing machines used in the semiconductor industry also showed a dramatic increase in market demand. In addition, the automotive, shipbuilding, aerospace and defence industries use a wide range of CNC machine tools. The projected growth rate for CNC machine tools is five percent in 2005. Even though Korea has made progress in resolving technological difficulties that impeded the introduction of high-end equipment and components, the local market still relies on imports from the US for a wide range of new, upgraded technology ranging from auto mechanics to information technology and aviation. Although major US companies currently hold a strong position in the market, competition will grow since exporters from Japan and Germany plan to establish joint ventures with Korean partners as long-term market entry strategies in the Korean market. Who's Who of Metals 2005/6 31