Austrian injection molding machinery maker Engel Holding GmbH has seen its sales rise 6 percent year-over-year to 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion), for the fiscal year that ended March 31, but it warned of a global slowdown in its biggest end market.
In a May 23 news release, the company said it had noticed a "worldwide decline" in production since last summer.
"It is difficult to gauge the impacts of punitive tariffs and sanctions, Brexit and the debate around regulatory limits and bans on diesel, which has resulted globally in feelings of uncertainty and a reluctance to buy," Engel said in a May 23 news release.
In China, the automotive slowdown accounted for "a significant share of the decrease" in economic growth, according to Gero Willmeroth, president for East Asia and Oceania at Engel.
"Overall, we're expecting a sideways movement for Asia for the current fiscal year," Willmeroth added.
Europe remains Engel's largest overall sales region, accounting for 54 percent of sales. Asia accounted for 21 percent and the Americas another 24 percent.
"Asia and the German-speaking countries in Europe have been the primary factors behind our new sales growth," said Christoph Steger, chief sales officer of the Schwertberg-based machinery maker during the Chinaplas trade show in Guangzhou, China.
Despite the decline, the automotive sector still represents some important drivers of growth such as electric mobility, the company added.
Particularly in Asia, the market share held by electric vehicles is continuing to increase substantially, the machinery maker noted. With its own center for lightweight composite technologies, Engel has seen increasing demand for its lightweight structures globally, and in China. This includes a growing number of "organomelt projects" with Chinese firms, according to Willmeroth.
The Engel organomelt process makes it possible to form fiber-reinforced, semi-finished products with a thermoplastic matrix in an integrated and fully automated process, as well as functionalizing these products through injection molding.
According to Engel, demand for the process has been growing heavily since large-scale application began last year, thanks to its high processing efficiency and a "consistent thermoplastic approach," which make the composite components easier to recycle at the end of their lives.
In addition to composite technologies, Engel is pursuing solutions to replace glass with polymer materials to reduce weight, for instance in glazing.
The company has also witnessed growth in the lighting sector, wtih liquid silicone rubber increasingly being used as a lens material. At Chinaplas, Engel is displaying the technology to manufacture LED headlight lenses from LSR in an automated process that requires no reworking.
In terms of markets, Engel can see "burgeoning demand" in Vietnam, driven by the automotive sector.