Flip through the Modern Equipment Review Spotlight on laser and waterjet machining in November’s issue, and you might notice evidence of a current industry trend: Builders are creating machines that can perform multiple processes. Examples include:
- Esab’s Hydrocut LX, a combination waterjet and plasma cutting system;
- Trumpf’s TruLaser Cell 3000, a laser cutting and welding machine; and
- Tsugami’s S206-II, a Swiss-type lathe that’s also equipped with a laser cutting system.
For photos of these machines and other laser/waterjet equipment, view the slideshow here.
According to U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO), machine tool sales in September were 3,452 units and $638,010,000 in real dollars. These numbers are absolutely astounding. Unit sales were the highest in the history of the USMTO program, which dates back to 1996. Further, unit sales were the highest since June 1986, which made September the single best month of unit sales in nearly 30 years. In those nearly 360 months, there have only been seven months when sales topped 3,000 units. Unit sales in September were 55.3 percent more than they were last September. That sent the annual rate of change, which had been floating around 0 percent for 2014, to 7.6 percent. Based on my forecast for the remainder of the year, unit sales should end 2014 up 5.7 percent compared to 2013.
In September my unit forecast was too low by 20.3 percent, which was by far my worst performance of any month in 2014. Year to date my forecast is too low by 3.0 percent. Based on my forecast and actual data, I think some sales were held from July and August and pushed into September because of IMTS.
Real dollar sales also were the second highest in the history of the USMTO program (March 1998 had $758 million of machine tool sales). Only three times in the history of the program have real dollar sales topped $600 million in a single month. Compared to last September, real dollar sales were up 60.1 percent. Sales in September moved the annual rate of change into positive territory for the first time since November 2012. Based on my forecast, real dollar sales will end the year up 7.0 percent.
With dollar sales increasing more than unit sales in September, the average price of a machine increased 3.1 percent compared to one year ago. That is the month-over-month increase in the average price of machine since January 2014. Annually, the average price of a machine has been contracting at a slower rate since May. This is historically a sign of an improving machine tool market in unit and dollar terms. One other interesting tidbit was the disparity in the average price of machines sold in September by region. In the Southeast, Northeast and North Central - West, the average price increased by at least 16.5 percent. However, in the West, South Central and North Central - West, the average declined by at least 5.3 percent and as much as 10.6 percent.
My four primary leading indicators for machine tool sales (money supply, durable goods capacity utilization, Gardner Business Index and durable goods production) are pointing to be a very strong year for the machine tool industry in 2015.
You can find more on machine tool sales and the leading indicators on our metalworking and monetary pages.
JIMTOF is a “big sight” at the Tokyo Big Sight exhibit and conference center. There is always a lot of great new technology to see at this show.
The theme for the Japan International Machine Tool Fair (JIMTOF) 2014 was “Monozukuri DNA.” Translated, this means that craftsmanship along with the latest technology are the best predictors that a manufacturing company will have the traits to succeed in a competitive environment. This slideshow presents a sample of the technology offered at Japan’s biggest and most important machine tool show.
AMT—the Association for Manufacturing Technology—and VDW, the German Machine Tool Builders’ Association, recently announced the launch of the International Additive Manufacturing Award (IAMA) competition. Rules, submission guidelines and additional details about the competition can now be found at the new IAMA website.
The award recognizes innovations in additive manufacturing for industrial applications. Equipment providers, users, component suppliers, data modelers and members of academia all qualify to enter. The winner will receive a $20,000 cash prize and a marketing and promotional package worth $80,000. Modern Machine Shop publisher Gardner Business Media is one of the media partners for this award, which will be presented at the MFG Meeting in March in Orlando, Florida.
Applications are being accepted through December 31. Visit additive-award.com for more information.
Entry-level tool presetters, such as Parlec’s Origin line of bench-mounted devices offers an affordable way for small shops to integrate tool presetting into their process. They are designed to provide basic video tool measuring and inspection functionality at an economical price.
But larger operations that are already leveraging tool presetting can also benefit by deploying multiple presetters throughout their facilities. This can reduce the amount of travel for machine tool setup personnel and eliminate time wasted waiting for a presetter to become available.
Parlec showed its Origin line at IMTS. These presetters provide 20-inch measuring height, 10-inch measuring diameter, 0.001-mm fine adjustment, 70× video measuring and a rapid quick-positioning handle with electronic braking.