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US injection moulding machines sales rise

By Bill Bregar, Plastics News
Posted 8 April 2013

The US turnaround continued in 2012 for sales of injection moulding machines — by far the largest plastics machinery segment — while extruders and blow moulding machine segments were flat or down, according to the Society of the Plastics Industry's Committee on Equipment Statistics.

Washington-based SPI also released statistics on hot runners and blown film equipment for the first time ever, and delivered its second annual report on thermoforming machines. Meanwhile, the components segment — screws and barrels — has been indefinitely suspended from reporting.

Economist Bill Wood, who provides an analysis for the SPI numbers, said extrusion machinery seemed to be at a cyclical bottom in 2012. He is predicting gradual improvement this year, in part fuelled by a recovering construction sector.

An overall trend for US capital spending resumed its upward movement in the fourth quarter, and Wood expects that to persist throughout 2013.

Solid growth in the automotive market will continue, said Wood, who runs Mountaintop Economics and Research in Massachusetts. Medical and packaging are growing, while electronics and appliances have just passed a cyclical bottom and should remain fairly flat.

"The fundamental incentives for strong investment in capital equipment remain intact," Wood wrote in his report. "These include: high levels of profits for US corporations, a continued premium on increased productivity, and the incessant desire to promote energy efficiency."

Wood thinks US plastics product manufacturing is "chugging steadily upward," and he forecasts that in 2013, plastics volume will grow by 5%. Capacity utilization, which averaged only about 79% in the fourth quarter of 2012, should exceed 82% by the end of this year, he predicted.

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