DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY — After a few rough years, the Portuguese mold making industry is picking up steam, with new orders for tools coming from Europe, South America and even the United States.
Mold makers attending K 2013 in Düsseldorf said they saw recovery starting in 2012 and continuing to rise through this year with business already booked into 2014.
European companies that had cut back during the recession have started bringing new production on line and ordering tools to refresh existing products, said José Augusto Marques, business development manager for LN Molds Lda. (Hall 1/C23-3).
The Portuguese tooling industry topped 400 million euros in sales in 2011, the most recent sales available from the Portuguese Association for the Mould Industry (Hall 1/C23). That is slightly lower than the pre-recession sales of 423 million euros in 2008, but up from an industry low of 438 million euros in 2010.
Representatives from JDD Moldes Para a Indústria de Plásticos Lda. (Hall 1/C23-1) said the company is looking at a 30 percent increase in business in the near future, thanks to continued sales for high end autos in China. The company, based in Oliviera de Azeméis, exports molds for use in the German auto industry.
Mold makers who have survived and are now growing are those who invested in capabilities to produce complex molds and improve their own production.
"Those who invested in technology and in people, they're still in the market," Marques said.
New generations of toolmakers are also bringing in more capability in business management, which allows them to compete beyond their traditional customer base, he said.
Miguel Fortuna, commercial director of Tecnifreza de Moldes SA (Hall 1/C32-8) said the Marinha Grande-based mold maker focused on its ability to make small complex molds and multi-material molds.
The business also decided to push for more sales in the United States as its economy recovered. Tecnifreza had its first booth at NPE 2012 in Orlando, Fla., specifically to expand its reach, he said. With traditional North American mold making operations nearing capacity – and more European automakers and suppliers expanding to North America – Fortuna said the company expects that investment to continue to pay off.
"We picked up some good contacts at NPE," he said. "In general, the opportunities are there for companies with good technology."