Foreign manufacturers look to U.S. for machine tool market growth

IMTS show brings industry leaders Japan, Germany, China to Chicago

By Plant Engineering Staff September 16, 2008

The focus was on an evolving and growing international market at the 2008 IMTS show in Chicago in September. Both China and Japan made presentations about their own machine tool shows, and both emphasized the strengths of the market in Asia.

At the same time, there was a look toward the Americas, in particular the United States and Brazil, for continued strength in the market. German turning and milling technology company DMG has invested heavily in the U.S. market, opening a technology center outside Chicago and planning to open an aerospace center of excellence in Chicago as well. So it was fitting that DMG leaders were in Chicago at the annual IMTS gathering at McCormick Place to discuss the company’s growth plan that counts on the Americas as a key factor.

Dr. Thorsten Schmidt,”

Schmidt also said DMG is continuing its commitment to the U.S. market by locating a manufacturing facility in the U.S. That would be a first for the company. “Customers need to see their component on the machine,” Schmidt said. “We have not defined the state as yet. That is currently under review. We need to convince some of our key suppliers to join us. We need the local sourcing of parts.”

Representatives of the Chinese Machine Tool and Tool Builders Association said their country continues to lead the world in machine tool imports, which were up 34.5% in the first half of 2008. “It is expected that China’s machine tool and tools industry will be able to maintain a steady and fast growth pace in 2008,” said CMBTA vice president Wang Lining.

China has seen rapid growth in its aerospace, shipbuilding, automotive and power industries, all of which rely on precision machine tooling. In the power industry in particular, Wang said the country will build two 1-million kW nuclear plants a year for the next several years to increase total power output for the country. “Rapid development of the power industry demands a large quantity of highly reliable, large-scale and high rigidity CNC machine tools,” Wang said.

China is also pursuing greater international visibility for its machine tool industry. Its 2009 China International Machine Tool show (CIMT) will be held April 6-11 in Beijing, and the Chinese said they are anxious to welcome the world’s machine tool industry to China.

“China Machine Tool and Tool Builder’s Association is your trustworthy partner,” said Wang. “We will follow international norms to provide convenient and quality services to all participants.

“The Beijing 2008 Olympic games were a great success,” he added. “Inspired by the Olympic spirit, let’s enhance exchange and cooperation to realize the goal of all-win and common development.”

Kenichi Nakamura, chairman of the Japan Machine Tool Builder’s Association, said North America is a slightly smaller market for Japanese machine tools compared with Europe and Asia. “But the United States is still the biggest single export destination for Japanese machine tools,” he said. “Right now there is no change in the importance of the United States.

“If we look at the size of the orders from North America, we can see constant growth from the middle of 2004. This trend will continue at a high level,” Nakamura said. “I think this is because of the depth and broad scale of the North American market.”

Ahead of the Japan International Machine Tool Fair Oct. 30 through Nov. 4 in Tokyo, Nakamura said the sluggish global market has not pushed the machine tool business down too far. “For the past several years the world machine tool market has performed well,” Nakamura said. “There may be some adjustment phases in the near future. But overall, I think there will be a trend of growth in the medium and long term.