North American shipments of primary plastics machinery were up 8% in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to figures released 22 Feb by the Plastics Industry Association's Committee on Equipment Statistics.
The preliminary estimate of shipments value for injection moulding machines and extrusion equipment in the fourth quarter was $376.9m (€332m) million, according to the association. Injection moulding shipments were up nearly 9%. Single-screw and twin-screw extruder shipments were up 4.6% and 1.5%, respectively.
Compared with the fourth quarter of 2017, the value of single-screw and twin-screw extruders jumped 33.7% and 52%, respectively. The value of injection moulding shipments dropped nearly 5% over the same period.
“We projected higher shipments for the fourth quarter and that's exactly what transpired,” Perc Pineda, chief economist for the association, said in a statement. “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.”
Unit shipments of injection moulding machines rose 2.7% in the fourth quarter, and single-screw and twin-screw extruders increased 5.6% and 16.1%, respectively, Pineda said.
“All told, quantity shipments of primary plastics machinery increased by 3.8% from the third quarter,” he said.
In the committee's fourth quarter survey of plastics machinery suppliers, 75% of respondents said they expect conditions to either improve or hold steady in the first quarter of 2019. Sixty-seven% of respondents expect the market to be steady to better in 2019.
Suppliers said Latin America and Mexico are growing export markets for plastics machinery. But ongoing trade tensions between the United States and China remain a concern in addition to a shakier economic performance in most of Europe, according to the survey.
Major end markets that continue to have strong demand, according to surveyed suppliers, are medical and packaging.