“Forming technology has once again proven to be the main driving force,” said Dr. Wilfried Schäfer, Executive Director of the VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association) in Frankfurt am Main, commenting on the result. “The demand for metal cutting machinery, which increased sharply last year due to the Chinese boom, is now declining, while forming is catching up due to large orders for press machinery,” Schäfer continued. Especially in Germany, the pent-up demand for forming technology has not yet been satisfied. Foreign orders from within the euro zone are now at similar levels to those from non-euro countries.

In October of this year, forming technology manufacturers were operating at 93.1 per cent capacity utilisation. This represents an increase of roughly 5 per cent in comparison to July. The last time such high capacity utilisation levels were posted was in July 2012. “The challenges most frequently mentioned by companies are capacity bottlenecks and difficulties in finding suitable personnel,” said Schäfer.

Forming technology traditionally accounts for around 30 per cent of total production by the German machine tool industry. Last year this represented around EUR 3 billion. At present, sales in the metal forming segment are growing at a rate of 14 per cent, similar to that of metal cutting. “It will not be possible to sustain this double-digit growth over the year because production skyrocketed at the end of 2017,” said Schäfer. However, the strong growth has prompted the association to raise its production forecast by a further percentage point. The VDW now expects production to grow by 8 per cent to over EUR 17 billion in 2018. However, Schäfer specifically drew attention to the renewed divergence in the performance of the different sectors and of individual companies.