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North American Shipments of Plastics Processing Equipment Dip in Q1

US exports of plastics equipment dropped 7.4% compared with the previous quarter while imports rose 7%.

Geoff Giordano

May 21, 2024

1 Min Read
hand turning wooden cubes from Q4 to Q1
Dzmitry Dzemidovich/iStock via Getty Images

First-quarter shipments of primary plastics machinery in North America dipped in value by 24.8% over the previous quarter to $261.9 million, according to a new report from the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS).

Year over year, the value of injection molding and extrusion equipment shipped fell 24.2%, the PLASTICS Committee on Equipment Statistics (CES) reported. 

Total US exports of plastics equipment fell 7.4% over the previous quarter, the survey found, while imports climbed 7%.

Results align with overall macro-economic trends.

“It is common to see lower shipments in the first quarter of each year,” explained study author Perc Pineda, PhD, chief economist for PLASTICS. “Long-term data confirms this consistent pattern. Accounting for such seasonality, shipments decreased by 8.5% quarter over quarter. This time, plastics machinery suppliers reacted in alignment with the overall pullback in the macro-economy and a still high-interest-rate environment.”

Declines by equipment type:

  • Single-screw extrusion: 47.7% quarter over quarter (Q/Q) and 23.4% year over year (Y/Y).

  • Twin-screw extrusion: 7% Q/Q, 17% Y/Y.

  • Injection molding: 33.8% Q/Q, 24.9% Y/Y.

Most survey participants — 74.4% — expect steady or improved market conditions over the next 12 months.

Related:The Wide World of Plastics at NPE2024

Slow growth projected.

"The US economy is poised for another year of growth, albeit at a slightly lower rate,” Pineda said. “However, growth in housing is hampered by higher borrowing costs, which also applies to higher capital expenditure financing in the business sector, including equipment investment in plastics manufacturing. 

“Manufacturing holds significant potential for growth, currently hindered by prolonged inventory adjustments and the rebalancing of consumption between goods and services," added Pineda.

About the Author(s)

Geoff Giordano

Geoff Giordano is a tech journalist with more than 30 years’ experience in all facets of publishing. He has reported extensively on the gamut of plastics manufacturing technologies and issues, including 3D printing materials and methods; injection, blow, micro and rotomolding; additives, colorants and nanomodifiers; blown and cast films; packaging; thermoforming; tooling; ancillary equipment; and the circular economy. Contact him at [email protected].

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