The Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. delivered more sobering machinery news, when it reported that third-quarter U.S. shipments of injection presses dropped more than 20 percent from the third quarter of 2006.
But injection presses, like overall primary equipment, continued a modest improvement from this year's first quarter, SPI said in its Dec. 11 report.
SPI's Committee on Equipment Statistics said the overall primary machinery industry remains soft when compared with the numbers from a year ago, which was an NPE year. U.S. shipments of primary machines totaled $228 million in the third quarter of 2007, down 11 percent from the third quarter of 2006. The overall numbers do not include auxiliary equipment and screws and barrels.
But primary machinery sales increased by 2 percent from the second quarter of this year.
``Plastics processors continue to struggle with the high cost of resins and energy, and this has hindered their ability to invest in new equipment,'' said Bill Wood, an economist who provides the analysis for SPI's machinery statistics.
Wood said sharp declines in residential construction and car and truck production have hurt total demand for plastic products.
But he sees some improvement in the coming year.
``The energy issue notwithstanding, other important indicators portend slow but steady improvement in the U.S. economy and the plastics industry in 2008. We should eventually see a gradual increase in new plastics machinery investment during the second half of 2008,'' said Wood, of Mountaintop Economics & Research Inc. of Greenfield, Mass.
SPI said injection molding press shipments totaled 745 in the third quarter, down 22 percent from the third quarter of 2006. But injection presses have improved 3 percent from the 723 units shipped in the second quarter of 2007.
SPI also reported:
* Extruder shipments decreased 11 percent from the year-ago third quarter, when measured in units. However, in dollar amounts, the third-quarter total of $38.6 million was up 8 percent. SPI measures single- and twin-screw extruders.
* The dollar value of blow molding machinery also improved, at $21.1 million in the third quarter, up 7 percent from the third quarter of 2006 and 9 percent from the dollar amount shipped in the previous, second quarter.
* Bookings for auxiliary equipment reached $84.3 million, a 3 percent increase from the year-ago third quarter.