Taipei, Taiwan — In the last year, European injection molding machinery makers Arburg GmbH & Co. KG and Wittmann Battenfeld GmbH both set up technical centers in Taiwan, a small but significant sign of increased interest in the local market on the part of global firms.
Lossburg, Germany-based Arburg opened its center in April, saying it sees the Taiwan presence as the way to build more sales among the many global manufacturing companies based there.
“For us, this is really the most important reason, Taiwan is the headquarters of very strong Asia-based companies,” said Andrea Carta, Arburg's overseas sales director, in an interview at the Taipei Plas trade fair, held Aug. 12-16 in Taiwan.
“Most Taiwanese companies have production facilities in China of course, and also in Southeast Asia,” he said. “What we went to do is support these companies with a direct presence here, where they have their R&D centers and headquarters, and then integrate this presence with our Asian subsidiaries.
“We see a potential that we are not tapping now,” he said.
Officials with Wittmann were less specific about their reasons for opening a technical center, but it's a similarly sized investment.
The Kottingbrunn, Austria-based equipment maker first announced the technical center in 2012 but opened it in mid-2015, the company said at Taipei Plas.
Roland Pechtl, area sales manager for East Asia and Oceania, sees some Taiwanese companies bringing investment back from mainland China to Taiwan.
Taiwan is Wittmann Battenfeld's second-largest market in Asia after mainland China, said David Chen, general manager of Wittmann Battenfeld (Taiwan) Co. Ltd. The technical center, in the city of Taichung, is about 15,000 square feet and employs 16.
Arburg's center, also in Taichung, will help the company make inroads into Taiwan's sizable manufacturing industry, said Michael Huang, Taiwan branch manager.
There are well-known Taiwanese companies like global contract manufacturers Foxconn and Pegatron, which make products for Apple Inc. and other consumer giants, and have large factories for injection molding in China.
But Huang said there are many smaller molding firms in Taiwan that are key in global supply chains but less well known, like Chenming Mold Ind. Corp., also known as Uneec, and Taiwan Power Technologies Co. Ltd., which specializes in metal molding.
“Sometimes they are silent, they are not such a big group but they are famous in some industries, like medical or metal injection molding,” he said.
Others, he said, are active in the consumer electronics industry: “They are supporting Foxconn, they are supporting [Taiwanese computer maker] Acer, and others. There are many component suppliers, they are not as big but we know they are here.”
Arburg's Carta said Taiwanese firms are increasingly interested in liquid silicone rubber molding technology. Arburg has moved a technical director from Germany to staff the Taiwan center, and that person has expertise in LSR, Carta said.
While the Taipei show does not have a large group of global exhibitors, German mold maker and hot runner supplier Otto Männer GmbH was exhibiting at its first Taiwan show.
“For Taiwan manufacturers, if they want to keep business, they need better quality,” said Xin Liu, managing director of the Bahlingen am Kaiserstuhl, Germany-based company's Hong Kong office. “The market changed in the last two years.”