Each year Industry Intelligence sends a Capital Spending Survey to metalworking shops asking about their intended spending on equipment for the coming year. If the responses from mold builders who completed the metalworking survey were extended to represent the overall industry, then the top-five projected equipment-based purchases in 2018 would be:
- Vertical machining centers (< 20 inches Y).
- Horizontal machining centers (< 400 millimeters).
- CAD/CAM software.
- Vertical machining centers (> 20 inches Y).
- Vision systems.
To clarify, a projection is different from a forecast. Projections are forward-looking statements that are based on the results of a single survey. Forecasts are the predictions of future results, and they are based on a wider variety of data and statistical techniques.
Spending on equipment types other than those in the top five are projected to be greater than in 2017. For example, spending on mold flow analysis software is expected to be strong, as the number of mold builders indicating an intention to purchase this software is more than three times greater than the number of mold builders who indicated the same intention in 2017. Data also shows that mold builders have significantly more interest in purchasing ram-type, horizontal lathe, wire-type and automatic coordinate measuring machine equipment.
Spending on mold flow analysis software is expected to be strong, and mold builders have significantly more interest in purchasing ram-type, horizontal lathe, wire-type and automatic coordinate measuring machine equipment.
Industry Intelligence also conducts a capital spending survey for the plastics processing industry. The results of the 2017 survey, which asked for projected spending in 2018, indicate that next year should be an exceptionally strong year with total growth of 20 percent. Within this, primary processing and auxiliary equipment spending for injection molding, blow molding and thermoforming should increase by approximately 25 percent and 15 percent, respectively. From the 347 responses received, Gardner projects 2018 new spending of $4.5 billion.
The results of the 2017 survey indicate that next year should be an exceptionally strong year with total growth of 20 percent.
According to the survey results, the top five equipment-type purchases by dollar amount in 2018 will be:
- Hot runner molds.
- Injection molding machines (horizontal/electric).
- Blow molding machines.
- Cold runner molds.
The survey results indicate a significant difference in consumption of new equipment by plant size. The results suggest that firms with between 20 and 49 employees are expanding their spending the most. The results also suggest the spending by firms with fewer than 20 employees is expected to contract by 26 percent. While spending projections between the two groups is directionally different in 2018, the combined spending of both categories at $1.9 billion is expected to be divided approximately equally. For comparison sake, large plants of more than 250 employees are expected to increase their spending by 32 percent, which would generate a smaller total of $1.3 billion in 2018.
Examining only the primary processing equipment data from the survey, consumption in 2018 is projected to be very strong. Among major machine types, spending in both blow molding and thermoforming is projected to contract by more than 30 percent. Projected consumption of cold runner and hot runner molds in 2018 is expected to grow significantly, with hot runner mold consumption more than doubling from last year’s projected level. Furthermore, processing equipment data suggests that spending on injection molding machines is projected to increase by 15 percent. However, when including all injection molding components, Industry Intelligence projects a 32-percent increase in 2018 over 2017.