Düsseldorf — The United States is suddenly the star in the global market for injection molding machines. That was one of the highlights of the Engel press presentation at K2013.
Demand for machines in the Americas will grow 6.3% this year, while global demand will drop 6.4%, according to forecasts made by Dr. Peter Neumann, CEO of Engel (Schwertberg, Austria). "Demand for machines in the United States which had dropped to 1400, are surprisingly back up to 4000," Dr. Neumann said at a press conference. Demand for machines in Mexico is also very strong. Strong business conditions in the United States are driven in part by the shale gas revolution which is lowering natural gas prices.
Here's how the numbers break out: China, 45,000 in 2012 versus 42,000 in 2013; 23,000 for Asia other than China in 2012 versus a forecast of 20,000 in 2013; 11,000 for Europe in 2012 versus a forecast of 10,000 in 2013; and 8000 in the Americas versus a forecast of 8500.
Dr. Neumann noted that the Chinese numbers are deceptive because the market there is rapidly converting from small, low-tech machines to more expensive precision machines.
Engel's market remains heavily tilted toward Europe, where 65% of its machines are sold. Asia and the Americas, respectively, represent 18% and 17% of its sales. Annual sales growth at the company has been around 10% since 2008, compared to about a 5% growth rate overall for plastics.
Engel had announced most of its technology news before the show, but there are a few items of note:
- A new control unit – the CC 300 – was introduced. Reflecting a trend show-wide, Engel is striving to simplify the controls, partly in response to requests from Asian customers who lack the trained workers to master sophisticated controls. The new interface almost looks like a larger version of a smart phone interface. The focal point is a button that controls all machine and robot functions. It's surrounded by an LED that changes colors to quickly indicate the machine's state.
- Emphasis on automated cells continues to grow. Engel estimates that it holds a 50% global market share of all automated manufacturing cells supplied by European injection molding machine producers.