It’s a mixed bag for the machine tool industry and firms that produce cutting tools from recent analysis of December 2013 U.S. machine tool orders and domestic cutting tool consumption.

On the bright side, U.S. machine tool orders finished strong in December 2013, totaling “$491.89 million worth of new machine tools and related technology … giving 2013 a strong ending but one that is in line with the year-on-year comparison through most of the 12 months of reports,” according to Robert Brooks of IndustryWeek.

Brooks cites figure contained in the final U.S. Machine Tool Orders report for 2013 compiled by The Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT). December 2013 closed solidly for an annual total of $4.94 billion for the U.S. machine tool industry. 2013 U.S. orders, however, still lagged 5.1% from the 2012 total.

AMT President Douglas K. Woods chooses to focus on the upside.

“With a strong finish to 2013 for manufacturing technology orders, plus strong reports for durable goods, capacity utilization, and PMI, there is plenty of favorable momentum for the industry going into 2014,” said Woods.

U.S. manufacturers that produce cutting tools might disagree with that sentiment. U.S. machine shops and other manufacturers’ consumption of cutting tools dropped 11.7% from November to December 2013, totaling $138 million for the month.

Brooks summarizes the bad news for U.S. cutting tool manufacturers in American Machinist:

The December result was the second-consecutive monthly drop, and brought the year-end total value for cutting tool consumption to $2.03 billion, down 3.9% from the 2012 consumption total.

Let’s hope 2014 continues to show steady progress in U.S. machine tool orders and a rebound for domestic cutting tool manufacturers.

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