What's the best thing most plastics machinery manufacturers can say about 2009? That it's finally over.
For most machinery makers, 2009 started out with a whimper, as fears of a global financial meltdown beginning in the fall of 2008 carried over into the first quarter of the new year.
2009 ended with a bang a new location for the NPE trade show, which is moving to Orlando, Fla.
In between there was plenty of action. Several machinery companies pulled out of NPE2009, and some came back.
Milacron Inc. filed for Chapter 11 protection in March, then emerged from bankruptcy in August.
The year was a dreadful one for injection molding presses. Machinery executives pegged 2009 U.S. shipments at historic low levels of around 1,200 to 1,300 units.
For some players, 2009 was a year of scaling back.
* Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. stopped making large injection molding machines to focus on its stronghold in presses for packaging. By year's end, news reports said that Husky's private equity owner was planning an initial public offering for the equipment company.
* MHI Injection Molding Machinery Inc. stopped stocking a U.S. inventory of Mitsubishi presses from Japan to focus on service and parts.
* The world of screws and barrels got smaller, as Xaloy Inc. bought Spirex Corp. in a major consolidation.
Another big merger hit the film equipment sector in the form of a deal from Germany: ReifenhÃ¤user GmbH & Co KG Maschinenfabrik bought Kiefel Extrusion GmbH.
Here's a month-by-month breakdown of the big stories:
Harburg-Freudenberger Ma- schinenbau GmbH, part of the German conglomerate L. Possehl & Co. mbH, on Dec. 9 bought Farrel Corp., the maker of extruders and mixing equipment for plastics and rubber.
Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. announced it would stop making injection molding presses at its factory in Luxembourg. Husky exited large-tonnage machines to focus on smaller presses for markets such as packaging, PET preforms and medical devices.
Chinese injection press maker Ningbo Haitian Group Inc. said it planned to start making machines in India with a local partner, Electronica Machine Tools Ltd. of Pune.
Nissei America Inc. announced it was pulling out of NPE2009. But Nissei came back to the show two months later, after the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. enacted a stimulus package of economic incentives to lower exhibitor costs.
Blown film equipment maker Gloucester Engineering Ltd. formed a joint venture with India-based Kabra Extrusiontechnik Ltd. At a new factory in Daman, India, Kabra will make a less-expensive line of Gloucester machines for the Indian market.
Milacron Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization on March 10, as officials said the company faced a severe liquidity crisis by the end of February. In August, the court approved its sale to two investor groups, Avenue Capital Group and DDJ Capital Management LLC.
MHI Injection Molding Machinery Inc., moving to scale back its U.S. operation, stopped stocking a U.S. inventory of Mitsubishi injection presses.
Injection press maker Engel North America opened a technical center in Corona, Calif. Engel also announced that a new technical center in Mexico would open in 2010.
JSW Plastics Machinery Inc. announced it was pulling out of NPE2009. JSW reversed that decision a month later, lured back by the SPI stimulus.
Netstal-Maschinen Co. Ltd. pulled out of NPE2009 and stayed out, despite the SPI stimulus package.
KraussMaffei AG promoted Paul Caprio to president of its U.S. subsidiary in Florence, Ky., KraussMaffei Corp., covering all three of its technologies: injection molding, extrusion and polyurethane processing machines.
Engel Holding GmbH said it would cut as many as 400 jobs at injection press plants in Schwert- berg, Dietach and Sankt Valentin, Austria.
About 44,000 people registered to attend NPE2009 down about 28 percent from 64,451 for the 2006 NPE show.
Sumitomo (SHI) Demag Plastics Machinery GmbH said it would invest $71 million at its two plants in Germany. Sumitomo Demag is turning its factory in Wiehe into a major base to manufacture all-electric injection molding machines. Meanwhile, the company closed the Sumitomo U.S. factory in Georgia.
In other Sumitomo Demag news, Indian press builder Larsen & Toubro Ltd. bought out Sumitomo Demag as its joint venture partner in Chennai, India.
SPI announced U.S. shipments of injection molding presses fell to 2,444 in 2008, down 15 percent from 2007. Other machinery segments also declined.
Mahendra Patel, who partnered with Milacron in 1995 to create a machinery joint venture in India, said he wants to buy the operation.
Negri Bossi SpA built a giant injection press at its Milan, Italy, headquarters, with 7,000 metric tons of clamping force.
Toshiba Machine Co. America announced a sale of at least 20 all-electric presses to Vision Plastics Inc. of Wilsonville, Ore.
Milacron cut 10 percent of its North American workforce, 130 positions.
In a marriage of two German film machinery makers, ReifenhÃ¤user GmbH & Co KG Maschinenfabrik announced it acquired Kiefel Extrusion GmbH. The deal was retroactive to Jan. 1.
JSW sold 50 all-electric injection presses to housewares molder Iris USA Inc.
In a major story for the screw and barrel sector, Xaloy Inc. of New Castle, Pa., acquired its Youngstown, Ohio-based rival Spirex Corp.
It emerged that Orlando, Fla., was challenging Chicago for the next two NPE trade shows. SPI's national board discussed the venue for the 2012 and 2015 shows during a mid-October meeting in Arlington, Va.
Facing legal battles, HPM, a maker of plastics machinery and wind-turbine components, had a mounting debt load, including $13.7 million in bank loans and a foreclosure action by Morrow County, Ohio.
Stretch blow molding machinery maker Siapi srl of San Vendemiano, Italy, announced that it would open a U.S. office in Norcross, Ga., in early 2010.
JSW moved into a new technical center in Lake Zurich, Ill., from the company's former operation in Elk Grove Village, Ill.
Husky contracted out its parts distribution activities to Caterpillar Logistics Services Inc.
The Toronto Globe & Mail reported that Onex Corp. plans an initial public offering for Husky. The firms would not comment.
SPI said Nov. 17 that NPE would leave McCormick Place in Chicago and move to Orlando's Orange County Convention Center for the 2012 and 2015 shows.
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