A six-employee company in Tokyo has developed a “painless” injection needle, much to the relief of children as well as adults.
Okano Industrial Corp. has created one of the world’s sharpest needles. The 2-cm-long needle features a 0.06-mm-diameter injection hole at its point.
The company has also developed a system capable of producing 10 million injection needles a month. The needles are expected to be supplied to hospitals nationwide by Terumo Corp., a Tokyo-based major medical equipment manufacturer, by the end of the year.
“It was very difficult to create an injection needle with such a sharp point,” said Masayuki Okano, 70, head of Okano Industrial.
Okano Industrial and Terumo have already obtained a design patent for the painless needle, Okano said, noting it is necessary for small companies like Okano Industrial to obtain patents at a time when major firms are accumulating expertise on the protection of patents.
“It is also important to share profits with our business partners by continuously doing business with them,” he said.
Okano Industrial initially received an order from Terumo in July 1999 to create an injection needle featuring a sharp point to minimize pain. It took nearly two years for the company to develop the shape by rolling up sheets.
“The many failures in my career eventually provided me with the insight into how to create the painless needle,” Okano said.
Okano, an engineer working with metal molding and stamping for nearly 50 years, recalled that his father used to produce only molds for companies engaged in pressing and processing. However, Okano changed the company’s strategy after succeeding his father in 1972, gradually adding metal pressing and processing to the business in a quest for profits.
To avoid competition with former clients, Okano Industrial has been developing products that they do not produce. However, profits were elusive in the early stage under his management.
“I had the bitter experience of earning only 35,000 yen one year because I concentrated excessively on developing parts for air conditioners,” Okano said.
The company is now logging annual sales of 600 million yen or more, as an increasing number of companies solicit its help in the manufacture of products they were unable to make.
Okano Industrial, for example, has produced stainless cases for lithium-ion batteries inside mobile phones as well as the carbon-pressing technology used in the development of U.S. stealth fighters.
“I graduated only from elementary school, but I have completed many difficult tasks that other companies, including major ones, failed to do,” Okano said.
Okano Industrial is now in talks with a major beer maker, he said, and if this leads to a contract, his firm’s annual sales will expand dramatically. Okano would not elaborate on the details, however.
With its outstanding skills, Okano Industrial is now one of the most well-known small companies in Japan. In February, Okano published a book about Okano Industrial and his career. Another book debuts Tuesday.
“We are doing work that major companies failed to do, thus contributing to society with new products and earning large profits,” Okano said. “I enjoy the work every day.”
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