Asociación de fabricantes de maquina herramienta.
Asociación de fabricantes de maquina herramienta.

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30 January, 2019

Although the figures are still provisional, the advanced and digital machine tool manufacturing industry closed 2018 with an increase of 2.4% compared to 2017, totalling 1,731 million euros. The trend throughout the year has been very irregular, with quarters alternating between high and low amounts of orders. Invoicing results for metal cutting were positive (+6%) although not for metal forming (-4.7%), which fell after several years of exceptional growth. The remaining subsectors also grew moderately: components grew by 5%, tools by 3.2%, accessories by 2.3%, other machines by 1% and machining by 13%.

In the words of AFM Chairman, César Garbalena: “In terms of production, the strong portfolio we started out with in 2018 has allowed us to maintain a good level of activity throughout the year. New orders have not been constant, as regards both the various subsectors (it has been a better year for metal cutting than for metal forming) and the year itself, with favourable quarters alternating with slower quarters but with a final good result for incoming orders.
Within metal cutting, it has been a good year for the milling subsector in contrast with the uncertainty in the automotive sector that has affected our manufacturers of metal forming equipment”.

Exports reached record figures, growing by 3.6% compared to 2017, and totalling 1,277 million euros. Metal cutting export figures are also positive, +7%, and metal forming shows a small reduction of 3.8%.

As regards machine tools, an analysis of countries of destination (information up to the month of October) shows the following ten main markets for Spanish manufacturers: Germany, which accounts for 12.3% of all exports, China in second place with 10.1% and Mexico third, at 9.8%. Following these are USA at 8.2%, Portugal at 7.3% and then France, Italy, Czech Republic, Poland and the United Kingdom.

Garbalena remarked on external markets: “It is comforting to see that the hard work invested in positioning ourselves in foreign markets during the crisis has borne its fruits. We have returned to record figures in exports that have not undergone significant variations compared to the previous year. In terms of incoming orders, which will mark future exports, Europe has kept apace and performance in America has been vigorous, while Asia is the region that has lost impetus."

In this regard, the effects of tariff changes and the trade disputes launched by the administration of the United States are of concern, as are the effects of an uncontrolled Brexit, which may affect business trust in Europe, in addition to the direct effects on trade in our sector.

Consumption of machine tools in Spain has shown a clear downturn in growth in 2018 (+1.8%), compared to 2017 (+24.4%). Although the figure remains the highest in the decade, it is still below the anticipated potential of a country like Spain, which amply exceeded current figures in the past.

AFM Chairman stated that: “We continue to believe in stimulating investment in production equipment with high multiplication potential, such as machine tools. Other countries, like Italy or France, are implementing aggressive fiscal policies to provide the industry with modern, productive and intelligent equipment. We should not lag behind."

Orders increased by 3.5% in 2018. Metal cutting figures have improved, bolstered by the milling subsector, with growth at 7.8%, while metal forming has dropped slightly (-1.6%).

Despite the great uncertainty in both the domestic and international scenarios, the promising amounts of incoming orders of the last two years induce us to estimate an acceptable year of activity, where we expect to achieve revenue and export results in 2019 very similar to those in 2018.

Xabier Ortueta, General Manager of the Association, had this to say: “Although we are confident that in 2019 we will continue at good levels of activity due to our accumulated portfolio, there has been a change in the perception of the future in recent months and we must be very alert to the trends in the various factors that affect confidence and investment.

We believe that the keys to navigating through the uncertain future are evident. First of all, we represent a knowledge sector and we should therefore rely on the best professionals at all levels to recruit, safeguard and increase our talent. Secondly, we must continue to apply digitisation forcefully in our products, processes and services. The digital facet of the equipment we sell is growing exponentially and we must find out how to acquire part of the enormous added value that we can help our customers generate.

If we add to these challenges other more traditional challenges, such as international expansion or R&D&i, the need for business cooperation becomes even more significant. AFM CLUSTER, which represents more than 400 machine tool, additive manufacturing, hand tool and machining and metal-mechanical transformation companies, is the ideal meeting place to foster cooperation. In 2019, we will be launching the most ambitious project in our history associated with cooperation".


  • AFM CLUSTER GENERAL ASSEMBLY: 17 May, at the Orona Foundation in Hernani.
  • EMO HANNOVER 2019: 16-21 September in Hannover
  • 22 CONGRESS OF ADVANCED AND DIGITAL MANUFACTURING AND MACHINE TOOLS: from 23 to 25 October in San Sebastian, Scientific and Technological Park of Gipuzkoa

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    AFM, Advanced Manufacturing Technologies

    AFM, Advanced Manufacturing Technologies

    Tel.: +34 943 309009

    Fax.: +34 943 309191



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