Machine tool demand in China continues growth

Even as economic growth weakens, tool demand seen expanding
By Plant Engineering Staff October 21, 2008

Demand for machine tools in China is projected to increase 13.0% annually to 606 billion yuan in 2012, outpacing growth in most other parts of the world.

Advances will be supported by rapid growth in durable goods production, especially for industrial machinery, transportation equipment, primary and fabricated metals, and electrical and electronics goods. In addition, the expansion and modernization of

China’s infrastructure will result in increases in ceramic, glass, stone and wood product demand, which will further contribute to machine tool market gains. Moreover, a rise in demand for higher-value computerized numerical control (CNC) machine tools will also boost overall market value. These and other trends are presented in Machine Tools in China, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc ., a Cleveland, OH (USA)-based industry market research firm.

The report comes as the Chinese economic growth has slowed somewhat due to pressures from the global economic crisis. While Chinese manufacturing grew at a 9.9% rate in the first three quarters of 2008, that was still more than 2.3 percentage points slower than the same time last year, according to reports .

Metal cutting machine tools — including lathes, milling machines, machining centers, grinding and polishing machines, and laser and electrical discharge machines — accounted for 38% of overall Chinese machine tool demand in 2007. Metal cutting machine tool demand is expected to outpace that of other machine tool products, spurred by strong growth in investment by the manufacturing sector.

Sales of machine tool accessories will also climb at an above-average rate, driven by fast growth in machine tool production in China. Sales of metal forming machine tools will grow at a healthy pace, fueled by continued growth in manufacturing output and further increases in fixed investment spending by both domestic and foreign-owned enterprises. In addition, demand for nonmetal machine tools is projected to grow at a respectable rate, driven by growth in wood, stone, glass and other nonmetal durable goods production.

Industrial machinery is expected to remain the largest market for machine tools in China due to the wide range of applications and significant machine tool requirements in many of these industries. Fastest growth by far is expected in the electrical and electronics sector, which in many cases requires high-precision, higher-end tools to meet the stringent tolerances involved in electronic products manufacture.

Transportation equipment represented the second largest machine tool market in China in 2007 and will maintain this position for the foreseeable future, supported by continuing foreign investment in the Chinese automotive industry, and fast growth in automotive parts production.

Industry analysts are concerned that the weakening Chinese economy combined with the general global economic malaise could have a serious impact on China’s export growth, putting further pressure on the Chinese economy.