Only one month remains until the end of 2011, a turbulent and chaotic year. This year marks the 80th anniversary of the production of cemented carbide tools "IGETALLOY."
Cemented carbide, with tungsten carbide as its main component, was invented by a German chemist in 1923 and first placed on the German market in 1926.
At that time, our company produced bare and covered electric wires by drawing copper wire through special steel dies. Although we had to increase wire drawing speed to meet increased demand for electric wire, the performance of our dies was too low to handle the increased speed of our wire drawing machines. To overcome this difficulty, we began studying cemented carbide in 1927 immediately after we got the information on the material. After two years, we were able to make cemented carbide dies for in-house use. In 1931 we placed cutting tools on the market. Though that was early in the Showa period, it took only four years from the beginning of study to commercialization.
We can celebrate the 80-year milestone since commercialization of our cemented carbide products thanks to continued support from our customers and the tireless efforts of our predecessors. The powder metallurgy technology we have advanced through the manufacture of cemented carbide tools is effective in forming highly accurate, complex parts. Applications of this technology are developing and expanding widely, including the sintering of automotive parts and the synthesizing of artificial diamond under high pressure and temperature (50,000 atm and 1,300°C).
When we turn our attention to today's society, globalization has accelerated with the advance of information communications technology and modes of transportation/transfer. As a result, large-scale, dramatic changes are occurring in various fields of society. In such situations, we manufacturers are required to develop more sophisticated and complex technologies to meet diversifying customer and social needs around the world. It is not easy to estimate how those needs will change in future.
The Sumitomo Electric Group opened "NEXT Center" in January 2010. At the Center, we began collaborating with experts and research institutions outside the company to survey and analyze social trends and changes arising from technological innovation on a long-term basis of 20 to 30 years, thereby commencing big new undertakings that will cover future promising industrial fields.
In October of this year, we set up the R & D General Managing Unit by integrating the Materials and Process Technology R & D Unit and the Information and Communications Technology R & D Unit with the aim of strengthening our R & D planning function in new fields and accelerate new technology and product development. In November, we also created the Business Development Div., to commercialize and market newly developed technologies and products, as well as to formulate new business models for those technologies and products.
In today' s society, we are expected to develop new technologies and new products, including their business models, as well as to promote technological innovation in various fields, including safety & security, environment & energy and life sciences. To respond to such expectations, we must further deepen the core technologies we have cultivated thus far - material technology derived from powder metallurgy, and information communications technology originated from communication cable production. We must also combine or integrate technologies we have accumulated thus far, and tackle revolutionary new technology development.
The Sumitomo Electric Group will continue to devote its full capabilities to creating original products and businesses that will contribute to the development of society.