North American shipments of plastics machinery jumped 20 percent in the third quarter of 2017 compared with the third quarter a year ago, according to figures released Dec. 14 by the Plastics Industry Association's Committee on Equipment Statistics. The data marks the second consecutive year-over-year increase for 2017.
Companies reported shipments of plastics machinery, including injection molding and extrusion equipment, totaling $350.8 million in the third quarter compared with over last year's third quarter total of $291.3 million. The shipments value of blow molding machinery was not reported in the third quarter, the association said.
The third quarter total also marks a modest increase of 4 percent from 2017 second quarter figures, which were $337.2 million.
"After hitting a plateau in the second half of 2016, the upward trend in the shipments data for plastics equipment re-emerged in the third quarter of 2017," said Bill Wood, founder of Mountaintop Economics & Research Inc, in a news release. Wood is also Plastics News' economics editor.
Wood said quarterly gains of 20 percent are not sustainable, but he expects the plastics industry to go into 2018 with more momentum than last year.
"I still expected the underlying economic fundamentals in the U.S. to push higher and global demand will also improve in 2018," he said.
Other third-quarter highlights from the association's report include:
• Injection molding machines increased 21 percent this quarter compared with last year.
• Single-screw extruders declined by 2 percent.
• Twin-screw extruders for both co-rotating and counter-rotating machines increased 61 percent.
The outlook for global market conditions in the coming year have improved from "steady" in the second quarter to "steady-to-better" this quarter. According to those surveyed, expectations for North America improved slightly. Expectations for Asia saw a significant increase in positive sentiment for 2018, according to the committee.
Survey respondents said they expect packaging to be the strongest end market in 2018. Demand in the electronics sector may also increase in the coming year, respondents said.