Mexico City — Wittmann Battenfeld México SA de CV, a subsidiary of Austrian machinery maker Wittmann Group, saw a promising start to Plastimagen with two customer orders totaling around $500,000.
On April 2, the first day of the show, the company sold an injection molding machine and auxiliary equipment to customer Altcam México SA de CV, a thermoplastic injection molder for the automotive industry. Wittmann also sold robots to another customer, Plásticos Técnicos Mexicanos SA de CV, or PTM.
"[Plastimagen] is the most important show in Latin America," Rodrigo Muñoz Barrera, general director of the Mexican subsidiary, said during an interview at the company's booth.
The company showed its all-electric EcoPower Xpress injection molding machine for the first time outside of Europe. The machine, which comes in clamping forces ranging from 160-500 metric tons, produced a polypropylene lid with a four-cavity mold using Wittmann's in-mold labeling technology.
Other booth features included a MacroPower press molding a B column for the automotive industry in a two-cavity mold and a liquid-silicone-rubber application on an EcoPower press that produced jigsaw pieces.
The company is also celebrated an important milestone.
"This year, we are celebrating our 20th anniversary," Muñoz said of the Mexican subsidiary.
The company first incorporated Wittmann Battenfeld México in 1998, with operations in Mexico officially starting in 1999.
The subsidiary, based in Querétaro, also completed the fourth phase of an expansion at its facility, which now covers 32,000 square feet and features more office and warehouse space.
Mexico remains the third strongest growth market for the Wittmann Group, with the United States as No. 2 and Germany as No. 1, Muñoz said. Total sales for the Mexican subsidiary in 2018 were around $45 million.
Automotive continues to be the strongest end market for the company in Mexico, accounting for at least 60 percent of sales. The other 40 percent comes from various markets including cosmetics, electronics, toys and white goods, he said.
This year, the goal is to sell between 80-120 injection molding machines in the Mexican market, depending on the size of the machine. Though, Muñoz said the first quarter of 2019 was off to a slow start.
"We are not really sure if we are going to have a growth [year]," he said, citing the 2018 presidential election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
Despite a stable Mexican peso, Muñoz said customers are still "a little bit cautious" even if the new Mexican president is not viewed as bad for business.
"It's politics and obviously we do not get a complete picture," he said. "We just see a small part of it."