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Plastics machinery shipments finished strong in 2018

Shipments of injection molding and extrusion machinery in North America increased in the fourth quarter 2018, according to the statistics compiled and reported by the Plastics Industry Association’s Committee on Equipment Statistics.


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February 22, 2019 by Canadian Plastics

Shipments of primary plastics machinery (injection molding and extrusion) in North America increased in the fourth quarter 2018, according to the statistics compiled and reported by the Plastics Industry Association’s Committee on Equipment Statistics (CES).

The preliminary estimate of shipments value from reporting companies totalled US$376.9 million, which represents an 8.0 per cent increase from Q3 2018. “Injection molding shipments rose 8.8 per cent and single- and twin-extrusion equipment shipments increased 4.6 per cent and 1.5 per cent, respectively,” CES said.

Comparing the fourth quarter 2018 shipments to the fourth quarter 2017, the value of single- and twin-extrusion equipment shipments rose by 33.7 per cent and 52.0 per cent, respectively. However, injection molding shipments value was 4.9 per cent lower over the same period.

“We projected higher shipments for the fourth quarter and that’s exactly what transpired” according to Perc Pineda, PhD, chief economist with the Washington, D.C.-based Plastics Industry Association. “The increase is not due to inflationary pressures of the economy, which one tends to think about when dollar value increases, but purely an increase in the quantity of shipments.”

The unit shipments of injection molding rose 2.7 per cent, CES said, while single-screw and twin-screw extruders shipments increased 5.6 per cent and 16.1 per cent, respectively. “All told, quantity of shipments of primary plastics machinery increased by 3.8 per cent from the third quarter” Pineda said.

The CES also conducts a quarterly survey of plastics machinery suppliers that asks about present market conditions and expectation for the future. In the coming quarter, 75 per cent of the respondents expect conditions to either improve or hold steady. As for the next 12 months, 67 per cent expect the market to be steady-to-better.

Also, there was consensus from the survey of plastics machinery suppliers that Latin America and Mexico are growing export markets for machinery. “The ongoing U.S. trade tensions with China remains to be a concern and sputtering economic performance in most of Europe caused a dimmer market outlook in the fourth quarter in both export markets,” CES said. “Exporting is a key activity of U.S. plastics machinery makers. Unfortunately, a full analysis for plastics machinery global trade for the fourth quarter was hampered by the recent U.S. government shutdown. The December trade data is now scheduled to be release on March 6, 2019. Based on October and November data, we expect plastics machinery exports on pace to fall short of $400 million.”

As for the major end-markets, the respondents to the fourth quarter survey expect that medical and packaging will remain strong in terms of demand for plastics products and equipment.