100 Years of NSK

Ever since developing the first bearings in Japan, we have leveraged our proprietary technology to supply customers in a wide range of fields with bearings and other machine components, thereby supporting industrial growth and contributing to society through the creation of a safe, reliable and comfortable world.
As we look ahead to our next 100 years, we will continue to take new challenges to achieve sustainable growth.

19161957 19581983 19841993 19942008 20092015 2016

I. Founding and Early Years (1914 to 1957)

NSK's first plant at the time of founding

Takehiko Yamaguchi founded NSK Ltd. in 1916, becoming its first president. Upon starting mass production, the company became Japan's first bearing manufacturer.
After World War II, NSK attained quality and technical capabilities equal to those of the leading manufacturers outside Japan, and supported the reconstruction of Japan by expanding exports.

Sometimes referred to as the “the staple of industry,” bearings are used in a wide variety of machines to facilitate smooth operation. In the early 1900s, Takehiko Yamaguchi had been thinking about the direction Japan's machinery industry should take when he noticed that bearings had just started being imported into Japan. In 1914, around the time World War I broke out, Yamaguchi established Nippon Seiko Limited Partnership Company, a machine parts business. He began creating a bearing prototype, and developed Japan's first bearing in 1915. With the start of bearing mass production in 1916, the company was re-established as NSK Ltd.
In the 1870s, the Japanese government had a policy of encouraging industry in order to strengthen the country. State-run businesses such as mines and railways were created. After that, state-run enterprises such as textile mills, chemical plants, shipyards and mines were transferred to the private sector. During World War I, shipbuilding and other industries saw further development, and Japan was on track to becoming an industrialized nation. Then, during World War II, Japanese industries shifted production to meet military demand. Under orders from the government, NSK built a system for producing aircraft and automotive bearings. As the war progressed and bearings could no longer be imported into Japan, NSK opened a series of factories and continued to ramp up production capacity. Under a policy of “technology first,” NSK developed a full series of ball bearings, produced roller bearings, and also began production of Japan's first steel ball bearings. NSK became the clear leader of the Japanese bearing industry.
After World War II, Japan experienced extreme shortages of essential supplies as well as high inflation. Although Japanese society was in a state of confusion, NSK began developing and manufacturing bearings for the private sector.
Before long, the Japanese economy entered into recovery thanks to a boom in special procurement, and NSK made a full-scale entry into bearings for the automotive and textile machinery fields. While achieving world-class quality, NSK strengthened its production and sales systems in Japan, and began to expand its market share.


Establishment of Nippon Seiko Limited Partnership Company, predecessor of NSK Ltd.

Bearing developed in 1915.


Founding of NSK Ltd. and start of bearing mass production.

With the cooperation of Korekiyo Takahashi and others, Takehiko Yamaguchi founded Nippon Seiko Limited Partnership Company in 1914. In 1916, he took over the entire business and re-established it as NSK Ltd. (Nippon Seiko Kabushiki-gaisha), with 350,000 yen in capital. Yamaguchi also served as the company's first president. Many Japanese companies at the time included “Nippon”(Japan in Japanese) in their names, which stemmed from a desire to represent their country.


Tapered roller axle bearings are developed for gasoline vehicles of Japanese National Railways.

The Fujisawa Plant, a bearing manufacturing facility, is established in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Today, it remains NSK’s oldest factory still in operation. Subsequent factories were established nationwide, from Kyushu to Tohoku. NSK now has 22 production sites in Japan.


Main bearings for jet engines (Ne-20) are developed in Japan for the first time.

Since developing and producing Japan's first bearing, NSK has always taken on the challenge of entering new fields. It has supported the development of Japanese industry by making significant contributions to the production of jet airplanes, the Tokaido Shinkansen, Japanese satellites, the first post-war Japanese aircraft, as well as high-definition video cameras.


Ultra-large self-aligning roller bearings are developed for thermal power plants ball mill.

NSK Ltd. is listed on stock exchanges.

A decision was made to list NSK on the Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya stock exchanges (delisting from the Nagoya exchange in 2007).


Miniature ball bearings that enable faster shutter speeds are developed for use in cameras.

Before World War II, German cameras had by far the best reputation worldwide. However, since many German camera makers ended up in the eastern Germany after the war, they found themselves in dire straits. By contrast, Japanese camera makers were able to greatly expand their postwar production by exporting mainly to the United States.


Nishi Nippon Seiko (now the Otsu Plant) is established.

Nishi Nippon Seiko (now the Otsu Plant) was established in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture to serve as a manufacturing base in the Kansai region. Shiga Prefecture has always been a transportation hub due to its location near Kyoto and Lake Biwa, which is called a “water highway.” Since steelmaking requires large volumes of water, Shiga Prefecture had been the home of advanced steelmakers since the 7th century. In 1959, another bearing manufacturing facility (now the Ishibe Plant) was established in Kansai, as a branch plant of Nishi Nippon Seiko. This was based on a growth forecast for the Kansai region, where many bearing manufacturers were located.


II. Rapid Economic Growth and Start of Overseas Production (1958 to 1983)

Steering Production Line

During Japan's postwar period of rapid economic growth, NSK worked to expand its business. With the pioneering spirit that has permeated the company since its inception, NSK took advantage of its bearing technology and diversified into products such as ball screws and steering systems.
NSK also engaged in full-scale overseas expansion, turning its overseas operations into a mainstay of the business. It established sales offices and local subsidiaries in Europe and the Americas, as well as a succession of new production sites.

In the 1960s, Japan achieved strong economic growth of around 10% annually, thanks to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and the “Izanagi boom” in the latter half of the decade. By 1968, Japan was ranked third in the world in terms of GNP, surpassing West Germany.
Starting in the late 1950s, NSK provided bearings for essential home appliances, referred to in Japan at the time as the “three sacred treasures,” namely a black-and-white TV, an electric washing machine, and an electric refrigerator. By the mid-1960s, the company was supplying products for durable consumer goods such as the “three new sacred treasures”: a car, an air conditioner, and a color TV. Through its products, NSK helped to support the rapid development of Japan. Today, between 100 and 150 bearings can be found in common household appliances such as air conditioners, washing machines, and vacuum cleaners. Moreover, every automobile contains about 150 bearings.
Meanwhile, NSK began engaging in technical collaboration with non-Japanese companies and set up joint ventures. This accelerated business diversification, especially in the steering and seat belt areas.
Also at this time, overseas strategy became an important management issue. After the oil crises in the 1970s ― which was actually a rather stable growth period for Japan ― Japanese products were recognized not just for their quality and reasonable prices, but also for their outstanding energy-saving and environmental performance. Japanese cars and other products became highly regarded around the world, and Japan's push to export led to trade friction with the United States and Europe. NSK established sales companies in countries such as Singapore, Italy, and the Netherlands, and strengthened its export system. At the same time, it also increased its overseas production in the UK and US, in order to help ease trade friction issues. This is how NSK began offshore production in the overseas markets it had first developed through exports. With the aim of building local companies, NSK worked towards coexistence and mutual prosperity in its new markets.


NSK develops precision ball screw for steering systems in cars and trucks.

The ball screw was developed by taking advantage of NSK's core technologies such as precision machining, which were acquired through bearing development and manufacturing. Today, NSK boasts the largest share of the global market for ball screws, which are supplied to a wide range of industries including machine tool makers.
1959 NSK launches ball-screw type steering for trucks, buses, and cars, which offered better steering wheel operability and mechanical efficiency.


Technology Center is completed in Fujisawa City, Kanagawa Prefecture.

The Technology Center was completed at the Fujisawa Plants site. Technology sites were later set up in the Americas, Europe, ASEAN, and China. Today, NSK has 14 Technology Centers around the world, including 5 in Japan, enabling a quick response to local market needs.


NSK develops stainless steel miniature ball bearings for high-speed dental drills (450,000 rpm), which reduced pain during dental treatment.

JAMCO Corporation is established in the US.

NSK has a long history in the United States. In 1958, it signed an agreement for export sales and technical cooperation with Hoover International Inc. In 1975, Hoover NSK Bearings Co., Inc. became a wholly owned subsidiary of NSK Ltd.
In 1962, JAMCO Corporation (now NSK Corporation) was established in Newark, New Jersey, to serve as a bearing sales company. Manufacturing and sales sites were later established across the US, including plants in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Clarinda, Iowa.


Developed bearings for the Tokaido Shinkansen, which helped ensure the speed and reliability of Japan’s famous bullet trains.

Since railway vehicle bearings are important safety components that directly affect the safety of railway operation, they require a high level of reliability. In 1964, NSK provided components for the first bullet trains. Since then, NSK was the only bearing company which supplied bearings for every series of Shinkansen trains in Japan, meeting strict quality management standards every time.


Started production of parts for automatic transmissions, which offered high efficiency and smooth gear shifting in automobiles.


NSK Brazil Bearings (now NSK Brasil Ltda.) is established in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

NSK Brazil Bearings was established in a suburb of Sao Paulo, Brazil, to manufacture and sell bearings. In 1972, the Suzano Plant began operation, and it is now the oldest NSK plant still in operation outside Japan.
Brazil has a large population and is a market with thriving industries such as mining. Although it was an attractive market due to expected bearing sales for automobiles and appliances, it was also experiencing dramatic currency fluctuations, making exports unprofitable. Therefore, NSK established the bearing plant mainly to support local appliance production in Brazil.


High-precision bearing is developed for household VCRs.


Start of bearing production at the Peterlee Plant, the first such facility in the UK for the device industry.

Peterlee is a town in northern England that once prospered as a coal mining town. In the early 1970s, when NSK was investigating plant construction in the UK, most of the mines had already closed and many people had lost their jobs. As a base for its European expansion, NSK decided to open the Peterlee Plant in northern England, a region where other Japanese companies had not yet arrived. Soon afterwards, other Japanese companies began setting up plants in the area.


Entered the mechatronics market.

In 1982, NSK established an electronics technology center, and expanded into the area of applied electronics. This technology led to today's mechatronics technologies, such as electric power steering, and human assistive robots.


III. Undertaking the Challenge of Motion & Control and Greater Overseas Expansion (1984 to 1993)

Signing the UPI Group acquisition agreement

In the late 1980s, NSK accelerated its overseas expansion to meet the expected global growth of Japanese automakers. With the aim of becoming a comprehensive mechatronics manufacturer, NSK increased its new products, and expanded its business areas.

In 1985, the Plaza Accord triggered a sharp appreciation of the yen. The Japanese government developed a policy to expand domestic demand, and the subsequent economic boom expanded consumption.
Using manufacturing technology developed based on NSK's pursuit of the highest quality, the company developed new products in the mechatronics and semiconductor fields. Aiming to become a comprehensive mechatronics manufacturer, NSK expanded beyond bearings into the machinery and electrical/electronic control fields. In doing so, the company strove to provide products and services that were valuable from the customer's perspective.
As the yen continued to rise, NSK continued to enhance its facilities in Europe and the United States. In addition to establishing joint ventures with non-Japanese firms in the US, Sweden, and South Korea, NSK acquired full ownership of the United Precision Industries (UPI) Group in the UK. Also, with the establishment of a Technology Center in Europe, NSK promoted true globalization with an R&D network anchored in Japan, the Americas, and Europe.



Development of direct-drive motors and Megatorque MotorsTM for factory automation.

Today, NSK Megatorque Motors help improve the efficiency of the conveyor process in smartphone production sites.


Developed electric power steering (EPS) systems for battery-powered forklifts, offering easier steering.

The environment for the steering business was changing substantially and with great speed. NSK was seeing continued growth for its specialty of column-type EPS for compact cars, for which there was increasing demand. Today, NSK has the second largest share of the column-type EPS market in the world, and this product area has become a mainstay of the company's sales.


Korea Precision Co., Ltd. (now NSK Korea Co.,Ltd) is established in Changwon, South Korea.

Released hub unit bearings for wheels, which help reduce automobile weight, lower fuel consumption, and facilitate modularization.

NSK acquires full ownership of the UPI Group, a British bearing manufacturer.

NSK acquired full ownership of United Precision Industries (UPI Group), Britain’s largest bearing manufacturer. With 3,800 employees, five manufacturing sites in the UK, and additional sites in Germany and Switzerland, the UPI Group specialized in aircraft bearings. Through this acquisition, NSK increased its share of the UK market by about 20%, and became a leading manufacturer in Europe.


IV. From Selection and Concentration to a Growth Track: Development of Emerging Markets (1994 to 2008)

Kunshan Plant(China)

NSK pursued selection and concentration across its business by making efforts such as expanding its basic business infrastructure in China, while withdrawing from or restructuring certain business areas.
Also, along with the rise of emerging countries and the expansion of the global economy, NSK began to develop its own emerging markets, embarking upon globalization in earnest.

After the Japanese bubble economy collapsed in 1992, the country saw a slowdown in growth and began a long period of stagnation. In response to this, NSK promoted structural reform in its domestic business and strengthened profitability. While enhancing environmental measures such as technology to improve the fuel efficiency and durability of automobiles, the company expanded its businesses related to hub unit bearings and steering systems.
NSK also worked to expand global sales of non-automotive industrial bearings. While acquiring full ownership of its needle bearing business, NSK pursued business selection and concentration through efforts such as selling off its seat belt division.
In the 2000s, with the rise of the BRICs nations, the growth of the world economy was led by emerging countries. Along with boosting exports from Japan, NSK also expanded overseas production. In 1995, the company established a plant in China ahead of non-Japanese bearing manufacturers. Making the most of its advantage as an early market entrant, NSK increased its presence in China while also promoting business expansion in other emerging markets such as India, ASEAN, and Latin America. Meanwhile, the company actively pursued the development of products for emerging markets and moved to roll out electronic power steering (EPS) systems worldwide.


PT. NSK Bearings Manufacturing Indonesia is established near Jakarta, Indonesia.

With the high value of the yen, production of small-diameter bearings for PCs and other products was transferred from Japan to newly established PT. NSK Bearings Manufacturing Indonesia. Other manufacturing sites were later established across the ASEAN region to meet rapidly increasing demand.


Kunshan NSK Hongshan Co., Ltd. is established in Kunshan, Jiangsu Province, China to manufacture and sell bearings.

In the 1950s, NSK began expanding into the Chinese market ahead of other companies. While providing technical assistance to Chinese state-owned enterprises, the company also established the NSK brand in that market. Today, NSK has 12 production sites, 19 sales offices and an R&D center in China, and offers Chinese technical support services for the entire NSK product lineup. As a result, the company has achieved one of the top shares in the Chinese bearing market.


Rane Nastech Ltd. (now Rane NSK Steering Systems Ltd.) is established in Chennai, India.

Rane NSK Steering Systems Ltd. was established to produce auto parts in Chennai, India. For historical reasons, Western companies have had a strong influence in the Indian market. This new plant was established through a joint venture with Rane Ltd., a local company that represents India.


NSK acquires a 70% stake in Polish state-owned enterprise, FLT Iskra S.A.

Founded in the late 1800s, FLT Iskra S.A. was a state-owned company in the former communist bloc country of Poland. In addition to bearings, it produced spark plugs and other parts. In 1970, Iskra and NSK signed a plant export agreement.
After the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the European Union was founded. Eastern Europe began to attract a great deal of attention as a market and production base. In 1998, NSK acquired a 70% stake in the state-owned FLT Iskra S.A., making it a subsidiary.
Through the active utilization of M&A, NSK has continued to grow while incorporating new markets and corporate cultures.


Developed half-toroidal continuously variable transmissions (CVTs), offering improved fuel economy and quietness.

The half-toroidal CVT offers highly efficient gear shifting, and is an excellent device for the smooth transmission of gear power. Commercialization of the technology is expected in the future.


Succeeded in mass-producing the world's smallest (at the time) deep groove ball bearing (outer diameter 2 mm), creating new bearing applications.

Shinji Kawana, the NSK Group employee responsible for the successful manufacturing of the 2-mm bearing, was recognized by the Japanese government as a Contemporary Master Craftsman.
With 200,000 or more different types of bearings, ranging from 2-mm miniature bearings to 6-meter ultra-large bearings, NSK supports a wide range of needs in all kinds of industries.


V. Looking Towards NSK's 100th Anniversary (2009 to 2015)

Mexico Plant

With the recovery of the global economy, NSK is building its global business structure on a solid management foundation, seeking to “establish corporate fundamentals appropriate for a company with net sales of ¥1 trillion.”

After a prolonged period of stagnation following the 2008 financial crisis, the global economy has now recovered, and NSK is setting out on a growth track once again. With the added advantage of a weaker yen since 2013, the company's performance is steadily improving.
Given the localization trend for production and parts procurement in the automotive and other industries, NSK is further expanding its production sites, especially in emerging markets such as China and Mexico. The company is also strengthening it sales system in the Middle East, Russia, and Latin America, aiming to further increase share in those markets. NSK is pursuing true localization through efforts such as comprehensive human resources development. NSK is actively hiring local staff and managers at overseas sites, while adjusting production methods to suit local characteristics.
As of March 2015, the NSK Group had 31,088 employees on a consolidated basis and a global network of 213 sites in 30 countries worldwide, producing about 2.2 billion bearings each year. The technology required for bearings has become increasingly sophisticated. As bearings are used in a wide range of machines to facilitate smooth rotation of moving parts, NSK is supporting industrial development by providing parts that help reduce energy loss.



Developed ball screws for motorcycle brake systems, facilitating power-assisted brakes that are lighter and more compact.


Developed high-performance wheel bearings for satellites, offering high-precision attitude control and improving reliability.

Lubricating oil is often used to reduce the friction that occurs during bearing rotation. In the vacuum of outer space however, regular lubricating oil does not work. NSK was able to overcome this challenge with new bearing technology, thereby improving the performance of satellites. This has helped to improve the accuracy of weather forecasting and enhance monitoring of the global environment.


Developed axle sensor bearings for passenger train cars, improving safety and reducing maintenance.


Established NSK Bearings Manufacturing Mexico S.A. de C.V.

NSK Bearings Manufacturing Mexico S.A. de C.V. was established in Silao, Guanajuato, to manufacture automotive bearings. Mexico exports about 80% of its production volume to the United States and Canada, and many vehicle and auto part manufacturers have set up operations in the country, making it a center for automobile production. With the establishment of this factory, NSK had a total of 65 production sites worldwide.


Developed lubricant grease made from 100% food-grade ingredients for use in food-processing and medical equipment, thereby offering a high degree of safety.

Bearings are also used in production processes for food and pharmaceutical products. Since these bearings also need lubricating, NSK developed lubricant grease that is safe to ingest in the unlikely event that it were to contaminate food or other products.


Developed a torque sensor unit for automatic transmissions, offering improved fuel economy and comfort in automobiles.


Developed high-load drive ball screws for use in electronic injection molding machines for producing smartphone and other parts.

Setting the Future in Motion.

2016Looking Towardthe Next 100 Years

In 2016, NSK celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding. We are growing along with the world as we work to set the future in motion and realize NSK Vision 2026, our vision for our company ten years into the future.

“At NSK, we are constantly pursuing ever-higher performance in motion―cleaner, smoother, and quieter. Beyond mechanical movement, though, lies the ‘motion of emotion’―the experience of the end user. That’s where we look to enrich the motion of the heart and soul. This has been our mission ever since the beginning, over a century ago.
While we are proud of our achievements, we never rest on our laurels. All around the world, people’s lives and communities continue to undergo significant change, so the question of what new “motion” we need to deliver is always at the forefront of our minds. At NSK, we are committed to this vision and more determined than ever to keep advancing motion itself.”
NSK utilizes the technologies we have developed over our 100-year history to develop new technologies, products, and businesses that set the future in motion. Our mission is to create new value by contributing to the well-being and safety of society and protecting the global environment.


NSK celebrates 100 years on November 8th, 2016