Statistics released by the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. prove 1994 was a banner year: Shipments of U.S.-made injection molding presses jumped 25.4 percent and orders for blow molding machines grew 18 percent. U.S.-made single-screw extruders recorded a more modest 5.5percent gain.
This year, for the first time, SPI's Machinery Division generated its own statistics on imported injection presses. SPI relied on numbers provided by 15 companies shipping from Europe, Asia and Canada. Only three major offshore companies declined to participate - Japan's Nissei Plastic Industrial Co. Ltd. and Japan Steel Works Ltd. and Netstal-Maschinen AG of Switzerland.
The verdict on domestics vs. exports: U.S.-made injection machines, as reported by nine companies, totaled 2,757, to edge out imports at 2,613.
SPI said 1994 was the third straight year of double-digit growth in U.S.-made injection molding machines. After declines in 1990 and 1991, injection presses increased in 1992 by 13.7 percent to 1,831 units, and 20 percent in 1993, to 2,198 units.
Injection press statistics are broken down by clamping-force tonnage. Hottest growth in U.S.-made machines came in two of the three largest size categories, apparently reflecting strength in large-part molding in marketssuch as automotive and appliances.
Machines from 600-749 tons soared 57.9 percent, to 191 units, from 121 in 1993.
Giant presses, those of 1,200 tons and over, continued their strong growth, hitting 97 machines in 1994, up 36.6 percent from 1993.
Two other size segments gained more than 30 percent (400-499 tons and 200-299 tons). Three sizes (750-1,199 tons, 300-399 tons and zero to 99 tons) grew by more than 20 percent.
Since this is SPI's first year of reporting imports, the Washington-based trade association does not have historical numbers for comparison. In the past, the Machinery Division used import numbers gathered by the Census Bureau, but dropped them last year because of nagging doubts about their accuracy.
Import numbers released by SPI do not show the country of origin. But SPI does list imports according to clamping-force cat-egory. Importers were much stronger in presses of less than 400 tons than for larger machines, which is not surprising, given the expense of shipping machinery.
SPI only counts machines used for molding thermoplastics. Statistics for the U.S.-made injectionpresses include exports.
In other types of machinery:
Shipments of single-screw extruders reached 1,174 units, a 5.5 percent increase. The 1993 shipments of 1,113 in turn represented a 16.9 percent gain from 1992. Strongest percentage growth was for extruders with diameters larger than 51/2 inches.
New orders for blow molding machines reached 295 units, up 18 percent from 1993. Shipments were 297 units, up 34.4 percent. Equipment is not always shipped in the year it is ordered.
Dollar sales of auxiliary equipment grew by 26.6 percent in 1994.