China, the world’s biggest manufacturer of ballpoint pens, has finally developed its own pen tips, ending a long-term reliance on imported ones from Japan. Taiyuan Iron & Steel (Group), or TISCO, said it has mastered the production of steel components for pen tips after trying for five years. Stationery manufacturers in China produce 38 billion ballpoint pens every year, but make less than 0.1 yuan on each pen, despite spending millions of dollars importing steel used to make the pen tips, at 120,000 yuan (17,000 U.S. dollars) per ton. Special microelements must be added to liquid steel to make a quality tip that is able to write continually for at least 800 meters, but the formula had long been kept a trade secret by foreign manufacturers.

CAS news release, January 10, 2017