Despite the rather gloomy report from the Committee on Equipment Statistics for Q4 2012 released by The Society of the Plastics Industry, business for most hot runner system suppliers is brisk. According to the SPI’s report, there were 1147 hot runner units ordered from reporting companies in the fourth quarter of 2012, a drop of 23% from the total booked in the third quarter of 2012, and down 15% from Q4 2011. For 2012 as a whole, hot runner bookings totaled 5264 units, a gain of 2% when compared with the total from 2011.
Citing several reasons for the increase in demand for hot runners systems, moldmakers and hot runner system suppliers generally agree that demand for hot runner systems typically comes from the OEM. Many times the OEM knows the brand of hot runner system they want, and the moldmaker accommodates that. For high-volume parts, OEMs look at productivity, as well as the cost of material. With the increasing prices of resin, which can be $4.00 or $5.00 per pound (or more for some high-end engineering thermoplastics or specialty materials), reducing scrap rates is critical, particularly in markets such as packaging or medical where the amount of regrind allowed is minimal or none.
While the SPI report’s end-market breakdown for Q4 showed that all categories were down in terms of units from year ago levels, you’d be hard-pressed to find a moldmaker or hot runner supplier that would concur. Hot runner system suppliers that PlasticsToday spoke with on this topic noted that markets are strong across the board, including some outside the usual hot-runner market customers.