Japan is the third country in the world, after the United States and Germany, to establish a strong machine tool industry, manufacturing, and industrialization. In 1889, the Ikebukuro Iron Works was founded and the first machine was produced.
Based on the machine tool industry, the steel, automobile, shipbuilding, electronics, and nuclear power industries were developed. With a large pool of talented individuals, effective management, excellent quality, innovation, and advancements in key technology bases and supporting components, Japan’s machine tool technology has risen to the top of the world. The following is an introduction to the top-ranked Japanese machine tool enterprises.
Top Japanese Machine Tool Brands
Okuma Corporation, Japan is one of the largest CNC machine tool manufacturers in the world, with a history of over 100 years in the industry. The company is renowned for its high-quality machine tools, including CNC lathes, turning centers, vertical and horizontal machining centers, gantry-type machining centers, CNC grinding machines, and more. With an annual output of more than 7,000 units, Okuma’s products are famous for their good rigidity, high cutting efficiency, high precision, long life, and easy operation.
About 50% of Okuma’s machine tools are exported, and its products are well-received by users globally. The company is also known for developing its own CNC OSP control system since the 1960s, which is considered advanced, stable, reliable, practical, and easy to operate. Okuma’s OSP system is fully integrated with its machine tools, achieving true mechatronics.
Several of Okuma’s machines, including the 5-axis vertical machining centers MU-6300V, MU-500V, and MU-400V, the 5-axis composite machining centers MU-6300V-L and MU-500V-L, and the 5-axis horizontal machining center MU-10000H, already support this new invention.
Okuma is well-known in China, where its annual sales of CNC machines, grinding machines, and precision machining systems are close to 400 million RMB, making it one of the most influential foreign machine tool suppliers in the country.
Founded in 1884, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is Japan’s largest heavy industry manufacturer with the ability to produce more than 700 types of products, boasting a long history and exceptional product quality. As a company that ranks among the top 500 in the world, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has 11 business headquarters, divisions, and six research institutes throughout Japan, with a technology development system centered at its technology headquarters that focuses on cutting-edge technology research for the future and technology development closely related to each production site.
Since the development of the MIB Machine No. 1 in 1960, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has been involved in the development and production of various machine tools. In 1986, the company introduced the world’s largest super milling machine with a width of 13 meters and has seen rapid development in recent years with a focus on large special-purpose machines. This company has earned recognition as a “leading manufacturer of large machines” by its customers through providing various solutions to meet their needs and producing high-quality, high-level machining machines.
What sets Mitsubishi Heavy Industries apart from other machine tool manufacturers is its unique advantage as a comprehensive machinery manufacturer, with the strength of the Mitsubishi Machine Tool Division lying in its unique position as both a manufacturer and customer, working together with research institutes to develop first-class machine tools that can be used in a wide range of industries based on information gathered from Mitsubishi Group products.
In addition, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries produces state-of-the-art gear grinding machines, including the high-efficiency generative gear grinding machine ZE15B/ZE24B, the generative internal gear grinding machine ZI20, and the ZE40A for both generative and profile grinding. The company also provides a series of gear processing machines, such as ZG400, ZG1000, ZGA1600, and other gear grinding machines, for high-precision gear manufacturers. With the automatic programming system developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the NC program required for dressing and grinding can be programmed by simply inputting various parameters to achieve high-precision machining for power generation applications.
Mori Seiki Corporation, founded in 1948, is one of Japan’s largest machine tool manufacturers. The company specializes in producing CNC lathes, machining centers, and CNC grinding machines and has the largest market share of CNC lathes and machining centers in Japan. The company is listed on the Tokyo and Osaka stock exchanges and had consolidated operating income of approximately $2 billion in 2011.
Mori Seiki’s vertical, horizontal, and gantry high-speed machining centers have a high reputation both in Japan and abroad and have won the Japanese Machine Tool New Product Award and Manufacturing Award. The company has sales companies in Shanghai and technology centers in cities including Beijing and Tianjin.
Since 1980, over 2,000 Mori Seiki lathes and machining centers have been installed in Chinese factories. The company currently has 9 technical centers in China (for marketing and after-sales service) with plans to establish a 10th center in Xi’an. In 2004, Mori Seiki’s sales of machine tools in China (excluding Taiwan) were RMB 130 million, and over 300 devices were installed.
The company plans to have more than 50 employees in China to provide the best after-sales service, with a goal of reaching 100 employees by 2008. Mori Seiki (Tianjin) Machine Tool Co., Ltd. was established in May 2012 in the Tianjin Development Zone with a total investment of $75 million and mainly produces high-end CNC machine tools. The first phase of the plant is expected to reach full capacity in 2017, with an annual turnover of $157 million.
In addition to complete machine production, the base will also supply important parts and components to Mori Seiki’s factories in Japan and the United States in the future. This development is expected to double Mori Seiki’s domestic market share. The company also holds approximately 20% of Demag, Germany’s largest machine tool maker.
JTEKT Corporation owns several brands including JTEKT, KOYO, and TOYODA. The company provides technical support for various types of machinery such as cars, Shinkansen trains, aircrafts, and robots that are crucial in our daily lives.
JTEKT was formed through the merger of Koyo Seiko and Toyota Kogyo and holds the largest market share in the steering system industry worldwide. The company has combined several industries such as bearings, machine tools, and transmissions to offer top-level systems globally.
JTEKT constantly strives to improve its technology to provide better safety, security, speed, comfort, resource conservation, and environmental benefits. The company has introduced an innovative technology for gear manufacturing by integrating the turning process into the standard configuration of its Universal Wedge Plus product, resulting in cost savings for customers.
Koyo Seiko, which specializes in producing bearings, has become a leading bearing manufacturer in Japan and globally. In addition, Koyo Seiko developed the first electric power steering system in 1988. TOYODA, the world’s leading machine tool manufacturer, offers a wide range of products including industrial machine tools and automotive components.
In China, JTEKT has set up six Koyo bearing production plants, eight JTEKT auto parts production plants, one TOYODA machine tool plant, two research and development centers, and several related companies in various locations. JTEKT (China) Investment Co., Ltd., located in Changning District, Shanghai, is responsible for sales and business integration functions for JTEKT in China.
Sodick Corporation, a Japanese company that primarily focuses on the mold industry, encompasses manufacturing firms, sales companies, and research and development entities. Over the past 30 years, the Sodick Group has consistently increased its production capacity and now operates four main factories in Fukui, Kaga, Japan, Bangkok, Thailand, and Suzhou, China.
In 2006, the Sodick Group launched a new global development strategy aimed at continuously expanding its business scale. Xiamen, China was chosen as the city in which to implement this strategy due to its favorable geographic location.
Sodick Group executes various manufacturing projects in line with its philosophy, including CAD/CAM product design for mold processing, electrical discharge machining of mold parts, high-speed milling center, electron beam finishing of the finished surface (especially the EBM PIKA surface processing device), injection molding processing, and linear processing technology. With world-leading technology, Sodick offers the best production solutions to its customers.
In 1991, Sodick Co., Ltd. established a joint venture with Shanghai Jiao Tong University (Shanghai Mould Technology Research Institute) to develop software for industrial control systems and enterprise information management systems, as well as to sell the developed products. In 1994, Sodick opened a factory in Suzhou New District, China, primarily producing EDM machines and wire-cut EDM machines. The factory features an environment suitable for precision machinery production, including a temperature-controlled production line with heating, cooling, and air conditioning. The newly built plant, completed in August 2004, has a monthly output capacity of 150 units.
On July 16, 2014, Sodick Corporation of Japan announced the development of the “OPM250L” 3D printer that uses metal materials, which it planned to start selling in October 2014. Sodick signed a licensing agreement with Panasonic for this processing technology and continues to independently develop related technologies, having filed for 5 patents.
Mr. Tsunezo Makino founded the company in 1937, specializing in the production of Type 1 vertical milling machines.
In 1958, Makino developed Japan’s first CNC milling machine and later, in 1966, the first machining center.
The Makino International R&D Center invested SGD 75 million to enhance human resources and intellectual capital not only for Makino but also for Singapore as a whole.
It attracts talent from various industries worldwide and serves as a hub for new ideas, technologies, and products. It also creates more valuable intellectual property.
Makino designs and produces three-axis and multi-axis CNC machine tools, numerical control systems, servo devices, and parts, as well as related application software. It sells its self-produced products and provides related product technology and maintenance services.
To meet the rapidly growing processing demands in the Asian market, the global headquarters of Makino Milling Company established Makino Asia to better manage customer business and services in the region.
Due to its strategic location and economic position in Asia, Singapore was chosen as the Asian headquarters for Makino and the establishment of Makino Asia Pte Ltd to cover markets in China, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Makino Asia has grown into a company that integrates manufacturing, R&D, product design, and business management.
Advanced processing, manufacturing, and assembly are crucial functions of Makino. The company produces the F and E series machining centers, EDAF and EDGE series EDMs, DUO series, and the latest U3 wire cutting machines.
In 1946, Isamu Amada founded Amada Manufacturing Co., Ltd., initially specializing in sheet metal machinery and cutting products. In 1955, the company developed and manufactured a band saw disk named “Contour”, which they began selling in 1956. In 1965, Amada acquired the Torc-Pac brand in the United States and the Promecam brand in France, and marketed it under the Amada name.
As a result, “Amada” entered a period of rapid growth and became a world-renowned brand in the sheet metal industry, enjoying a high reputation in developed countries such as Japan, the United States, and Europe. According to available statistics, in recent years, it has held a 70% share of the international market for similar products.
In 2001, Amada had sales of 190 billion yen and a workforce of 4,400 employees. The company operates 83 branches across all continents and sells its products in over 100 countries and regions globally. It offers a wide range of sheet metal processing machinery (nearly 1,000 varieties) with advanced technology and superior performance, making it a leader in the world of sheet metal processing machinery.
The 21st-century intelligent automatic sheet metal processing center developed and manufactured by the company in the 1990s has set the standard for the intelligent processing of the world sheet metal industry, and received the highest technological invention award in Japan.
Amada’s products are highly valued by customers worldwide due to their comprehensive and rational mechanical structure, which provides the best quality assurance. Their efficient and safe operation features create benefits for users and peace of mind. The advanced technology of simulation automation offers users the most perfect and simplified processing guarantee, which has contributed to Amada’s products reaching an annual sales of 200 billion yen worldwide.
The main products of the company include: CNC punching machines, bending machines, plate shearing machines, laser cutting machines, and other sheet metal processing machinery, as well as corresponding molds, spare parts, and cutting products.
Komatsu NTC Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of Komatsu Corporation in Japan, was founded in July 1945. It is a comprehensive machine tool manufacturer that provides a wide range of high-quality, precise metal processing equipment to automobile manufacturers globally.
In 1983, NTC and Toyota Motor Corporation of Japan joined forces to develop the world’s first three-dimensional, five-axis CNC laser cutting machine. After over two decades of continuous improvement and refinement, based on extensive user experience and needs, the machine now boasts its own unique technology and features.
The heart of a car, composed of many parts including the power unit and drive unit such as engines and transmissions, is the focus of NTC’s machine group. This group is centered around a combination of machine tools (automatic transfer compound machining machines) and various grinding machines, which form the backbone of the mass production system for these products. They are widely used both domestically and overseas under the name “World Class”.
NTC contributes to the development of the automotive industry by not only providing machining machines, but also offering “new hardware” that incorporates software such as production systems, and the ability to propose total solutions based on a deep understanding of the customer’s business foundation. This has earned NTC a deep trust and high evaluation from customers worldwide.
Since 1997, NTC has received the “Supplier of the Year” award from General Motors Corporation (GM) for three consecutive years. This is a first for a Japanese industrial machinery manufacturer, as the productivity and reliability of the combined machine tools for machining automotive parts supplied to factories in North America, Central America, and South America have been highly praised.
Aida is a high-tech company that specializes in R&D, production, and sales of high-speed presses, precision presses, servo presses, and stamping automation. With 93 years of history, Aida is a renowned Japanese publicly traded company that produces and sells punching machines, industrial robots, and various automatic transmission devices.
Aida’s punching machines, peripheral automation, and plastic forming technology are at the forefront of the industry globally. The high-precision, one-piece gantry design of the Aida machine tool solves the problem of machine body expansion during loading and enables the processing of high-precision products. The slider’s left and right dimensions have been expanded for full-length and center guidance, and the use of forced circulation oiling minimizes thermal deformation of the machine body for better precision. The compact design also reduces fuselage deformation and saves space. The touch screen provides safe and easy operation, further improving production efficiency.
Aida’s forging machinery products include open and closed presses, cold forging presses, high-speed presses, servo presses, large multi-station presses, and peripheral equipment. The company is ranked 23rd in the Gardner World Machine Tool Companies (by value) and 5th in the metal forming machine tool category.
MAZAK Yamazaki Corporation is a renowned manufacturer of machine tools based in Japan. Founded in 1919, the company produces a range of high-speed, high-precision products, including CNC lathes, composite turning and milling centers, vertical machining centers, horizontal machining centers, CNC laser systems, FMS flexible production systems, CAD/CAM systems, CNC devices, and production support software.
These products are widely used across various industries in the machinery sector. Today, there are nine Yamazaki Mazak manufacturing companies located globally, including in Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, and China. Additionally, the company has established over 80 customer support bases worldwide through its technical centers and Mazak Technical Service Centers.
In China, Yamazaki Mazak Technology Co., Ltd. (Shanghai) specializes in the sales and service of laser cutting machine products, while Yamazaki Mazak Machine Tools (Shanghai) Co. handles the sales and service of all other metal cutting machine products. Products manufactured in Japan are under the sole control of the new company, while sales of products manufactured in China by Mazak Yamazaki are still managed by Ningxia Little Giant Machine Tool Co.
There are several other well-known Japanese machine tool companies, such as StarMicronics, KomatsuPress, Citizen, Fanuc, Fujikoshi-Fujikoshi, Toshiba, OKK, Brother, Tsugami, Takisawa, Enshu, Okamoto, and Miyano.
Factors to Consider Before Buying Machine Tool in Japan
Buying a machine tool in Japan is a significant decision, as these machines often represent a substantial investment. Here are some factors to consider before making the purchase:
- Purpose of the Machine: Understand the specific tasks you need the machine to perform. Knowing this will help you decide the type of machine tool you need and its necessary capabilities.
- Machine Tool Brand: Japan is home to some of the leading machine tool brands in the world, such as Amada, Makino, Okuma, and Mazak. It’s important to do some research on these brands to understand their reputation, reliability, and the type of customer service they offer.
- New vs. Used: Decide whether you need a new machine or if a used one could serve your purpose. Used machines can be cost-effective but might need more maintenance and could have a shorter lifespan.
- Warranty and Service: Check what kind of warranty and after-sales service is provided with the machine tool. The level of service can vary significantly between manufacturers.
- Training: If the machine is complex, it might require specialized training to operate. Check whether the seller provides this training or if you’ll have to arrange it yourself.
- Technology: Evaluate the technology incorporated in the machine tool. Consider factors such as control systems, automation features, and precision capabilities. Look for machines that are future-proof or can be easily upgraded.
- Cost: Consider the total cost of ownership, not just the purchase price. This should include costs for installation, maintenance, operation, and potential repairs.
- Local Regulations and Standards: Japan has specific safety standards and regulations for machine tools. Make sure the machine you’re buying complies with these standards to avoid legal issues.
- Resale Value: If you plan to sell the machine tool in the future, consider its potential resale value. Some brands and models retain their value better than others.
- Delivery Time: Depending on the manufacturer and the specific model, the delivery time for the machine tool can vary significantly. Make sure this aligns with your schedule and won’t disrupt your operations.
- Space Requirements: Ensure your facility has enough space for the machine tool, including room for operation, maintenance, and safety zones.
- Energy Consumption: Check the energy consumption of the machine. More energy-efficient machines can result in substantial savings in the long run.
Before you make the final decision, it’s a good idea to visit the manufacturer or distributor in person if possible, see the machine tool in operation, and ask any questions you might have. This can give you a better sense of whether the machine will meet your needs.