North American shipments of plastics machinery were up nearly 6 percent in the second quarter of 2018 compared to the second quarter of 2017, according to figures released Sept. 20 by the Plastics Industry Association's Committee on Equipment Statistics.
The data marks the fifth consecutive quarterly year-over-year increase.
Companies reported shipments of injection molding machines and extrusion equipment totaling an estimated $335.2 million in the second quarter, an increase of 1.6 percent from the first quarter of 2018, according to the association. First quarter shipments in 2018 totaled $329.8 million. Shipments of blow molding machinery were not reported.
"Plastics machinery shipments seemed to have hit a speed bump in the second quarter, but there's no indication that shipments for the remainder of the year are trending down," Perc Pineda, chief economist for the association, said in a news release.
"U.S. economic fundamentals remain strong," he said. "As the economy fast approaches — if it hasn't already attained — full capacity, businesses will have to cope with tighter resources, particularly labor, and output resources will not be as robust as in previous periods."
In the association's second quarter survey, 11.4 percent of respondents reported their customers were having difficulty obtaining financing for new equipment. This was a 7.4 percent increase from the first quarter, the association said, citing rising interest rates in the United States.
Other second quarter highlights from the association's report include:
• Injection molding machines sales were up 4.5 percent compared with the second quarter of 2017.
• Single-screw extruders increased 23 percent.
• Twin-screw extruders, including co-rotating and counter-rotating machines, increased 80 percent.
"We can expect to see continued uneven quarterly data moving forward, but by and large the outlook for plastics machinery remains positive," Pineda said.