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Press suppliers are promoting energy-saving technologies such as all-electric machines. At the K 2010 show this fall in Germany, Engel will show a new all-electric press for molding caps and closures, called the e-Cap. Engel also has been running ads in trade magazines showing head-to-head comparisons of power consumption.
President Mark Sankovitch said the important automotive market started buying injection molding machines again in the fourth quarter of 2009, as molders that survived the shakeout win new jobs and tooling gets moved around.
“You walk into some of these [molding] plants and they've got some large-tonnage machines, but they're energy hogs because it's older equipment. They need to invest in some of this infrastructure,” he said. “So I think that's where you see a buildup of people buying equipment for the automobile sector.”
Sankovitch said machinery executives are predicting U.S. shipments for 2010 in the range of 1,700-2,000 — a healthy increase of about 30-50 percent from the depressed 2009 numbers, but well below the level of 2008.
He said a new, downsized plastics industry is starting to grow, in typical fashion after coming out of an economic downturn. “The recession takes out the excesses. It squeezes all the water out of the sponge. Because the sponge just can't absorb any more water.
“We had too much capacity, so the recession squeezes and squeezes. Now it's starting to re-inflate itself,” Sankovitch said.