Officials at several Japanese injection molding machinery firms reported flat 1995 sales. They mainly blame the global currency situation, with a strong yen and weak dollar driving upthe cost of machines made in Japan. Ryusuke Nakamura, the president of Ube Machinery Sales Inc., said 1995 ``was not as good as '94.'' Ube will get some relief from the currency hammer this year, when its new Ann Arbor, Mich., factory begins operation. The plant, scheduled to open in May, will produce 30-40 molding machines in its first year.
Japanese suppliers may have no choice but to become a significant part of the U.S. machinery market, said Michael Paslawskyj, a CIT Group analyst, who points out that press makers are following the trend Japanese automakers set in the 1980s.
``The strong yen is just pricing the stuff out of the picture,'' he said.
One firm not likely to join the movement is Nissei Plastic Industrial Co. Ltd., which sold about 600 machines in the United States in 1995. At K'95, President Tsukasa Yoda said it has no plans for U.S. assembly.
Toshiba Machine Co. America saw the summer slowdown, but sales have rebounded, according to Tim Glassburn, vice president of the plastics machinery division. The Elk Grove Village, Ill., company does not disclose unit sales. Glassburn is predicting a 10 percent gain for 1996.
JSW Plastics Machinery Inc. of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., experienced a 15 percent gain, measured in dollar sales, in 1995, according to President Nobuyuki Hirato. He predicts an increase in 1996 of 10-15 percent.
Niigata Engineering Co. Ltd. may buy some parts from U.S. suppliers, said William Ball, general manager of plastics machinery at Niigata's trading firm, Daiichi Jitsugyo (America) Inc., also of Elk Grove Village.