Austrian injection moulding machinery maker Engel Holding GmbH has seen its sales rise 6% year-on-year to €1.6bn, for the fiscal year ended March.
“Asia and the German-speaking countries in Europe have been the primary factors behind our new sales growth,” said Dr. Christoph Steger, chief sales officer of the Schwertberg-based machinery maker during the Chinaplas plastics industry trade fair in Guangzhou, China.
Throughout the last fiscal year, Engel generated 54% of its turnover in Europe, while Asia accounted for 21% and the Americas for 24%.
In the automotive sector, Engel’s most important target sector, the company said it had noticed a “worldwide decline” in production since last summer.
“It is difficult to gauge the impacts of punitive tariffs and sanctions, Brexit, and the debate around regulatory limits and bans on diesel, which has resulted globally in feelings of uncertainty and a reluctance to buy,” Engel said in a 23 May statement.
Likewise, in China, the automotive slowdown accounted for “a significant share of the decrease” in economic growth, according to Gero Willmeroth, president for East Asia and Oceania at Engel.
“Overall, we’re expecting a sideways movement for Asia for the current fiscal year,” Willmeroth added.
Despite the decline, the automotive sector still represents some important drivers of growth such as electric mobility.
Particularly in Asia, the market share held by electric vehicles is continuing to increase substantially, the machinery maker noted.
With its own centre for lightweight composite technologies, Engel has seen increasing demand for its lightweight structures globally, and in China.
This includes a growing number of “organomelt projects” with Chinese firms, according to Willmeroth.
The Engel organomelt process makes it possible to form fibre-reinforced, semi-finished products with a thermoplastic matrix in an integrated and fully automated process, as well as functionalising these products through injection moulding.
According to Engel, demand for the process has been growing heavily since large-scale application began last year, thanks to its high processing efficiency and a “consistent thermoplastic approach”, which make the composite components easier to recycle at the end of their lives.
In addition to composite technologies, Engel is pursuing solutions to replace glass with polymeric materials to reduce weight, for instance in glazing.
The company has also witnessed growth in the lighting sector, in which liquid silicone rubber (LSR) is increasingly being used as a lens material. At Chinaplas, Engel is displaying the technology to manufacture LED headlight lenses from LSR in an automated process that requires no reworking.
In terms of markets, Engel can see “burgeoning demand” in Vietnam, driven by the automotive sector.
“As a result of the automotive industry establishing itself there, there are more and more suppliers – including from Korea – setting up company premises in the vicinity of car manufacturers,” added Willmeroth.