Demand for machine tools lacks momentum

First-quarter order bookings in Germany’s machine tool industry fell by 19% compared to the 1Q12.

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Frankfurt am Main, Germany - Order bookings in 1Q13 in Germany’s machine tool industry fell by 19% compared to the equivalent quarter of 2012, said a German industry association. Domestic orders were down by 21%, while international orders dropped by 18%.

"Demand for machine tools is still lacking momentum," comments Dr. Wilfried Schäfer, executive director of the industry association VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association) in Frankfurt am Main. He said the weak start to the year signals a perceptible degree of scepticism by mid-tier customers in Germany. Order bookings in metal-cutting applications, for instance, with a broadly diversified customer base, remained 26% down from the preceding year’s figure. In forming technology, by contrast, which is dominated by project business with the automotive industry, orders are still running at the previous year’s level.

Schäfer also said that second half growth has to offset the first quarter losses or the predicted 1% growth in production output is at risk. Germany looks to expanding markets in Asia. In China, the largest market for the German machine tool industry, faster economic growth is again being forecast. North America, most recently a vital support for the sector, will remain a stable market this year. And Russia, because of its substantial need for modernization in its domestic industrial sector, will continue to be an attractive customer.

There is hope from the international automotive industry, which is deploying strategic investments in the battle for market shares and from the aircraft industry and the mechanical engineering sector. All of these are expected to be making above-average capital investments in 2013. For details contact

Correspondingly, at the recent VDMA Laser Committee meeting held in Munich, it was reported that worldwide sales of industrial laser systems in 2012 grew 9%, reaching a record value of EUR 7.9 billion.

With reference to this global rate of growth and based on its own surveys, the committee assumed that manufacturers who produce in Germany actively participated in the expansion, despite uncertainty and dampened investment tendencies in European "home markets." This applies especially with regard to the potential of Central / East European users, e.g., within the major automotive manufacturing locations in the region.


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