A Brief History of the Micrometer Part IV: Rise of "Made in Japan"

This article is based on an original publication by Mitutoyo.

Hardships During and After the War

During World War II and for a time thereafter, micrometer production was met with its share of difficulty. Although manufacturers were required to produce the necessary high-accuracy war materials including guns, ammunition, battleships, tanks and airplanes, the demand for micrometers was far higher than the supply.

At the same time, ABCD-line allies had ceased shipment of the necessary building materials, contributing to the short supply that was already problematic to the metalworking industry. Trained workers and skilled engineers had gone to war, leaving behind only unqualified labor.

Following the end of WWII, cities had been burned to ashes and both Mitutoyo's Kamata Factory and the neighboring Mizonokuchi Factory closed their operations, leaving only a handful of guards on the properties. It was not until soldiers returned home that the nation slowly began to resume.

From Reconstruction to Mass Production

In the beginning, reconstruction took a backseat to basic necessities such as clothing and food. In October of 1947, measuring gages began to make a comeback as Mitutoyo restarted production. In 1949, Mitutoyo announced that it would resume full production operations.

Internationally, war had broken out on the Korean Peninsula and US military was relocated there. Turning to Japan for combat materials, this prompted an economic revival for the metalworking industry.

As domestic demand for consumer products including televisions and automobiles increased in the 1950s, the manufacturing sector began to gain momentum and mass production commenced in Japan. The concept of statistical process control arose with new requirements for tighter production tolerances. This rational approach to manufacturing was not limited to mass production, and was also used as a means to validate specifications.

 

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