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Double-Digit Rise in U.S. Cutting-Tool Orders

May 19, 2021
Machine shops consumed $177.6 million of cutting tools during March and $471.9 million during the first quarter of 2021, sustaining hope for a manufacturing recovery.

Machine shops and other U.S. manufacturers consumed $177.6 million worth of cutting tools during March, an 18.8% increase in demand from February, matching the parallel rise in demand for machine tools among the same customers. Cutting-tool demand still lags the pace of early 2020, however, with the current month’s total falling -2.6% below March 2020 and the January-March 2021 ($471.9 million) total lagging Q1 2020 by -14.4%.

The data is supplied by the U.S. Cutting Tool Institute and AMT – the Assn. for Manufacturing Technology in their monthly Cutting Tool Market Report. Because cutting tools are required in the production of multiple parts and components across a range of industrial sectors, cutting-tool consumption is taken as an index of current manufacturing activity.

“Although the 18.8% jump in shipments from February to March looks fantastic, it is important to remember there were three more working days in March over February,” commented Steve Stokey, exec. vice president and owner of Allied Machine and Engineering. “If we smooth the number over the number of working days, the growth is slightly over 3%. This is very similar to what we saw in February over January.”

Cutting Tool Market Report figures are actual results reported by companies participating in the CTMR program, which represent a majority of the U.S. market for cutting tools.

“The cutting tool industry March totals are encouraging sales volumes that are nearing pre-pandemic numbers,” stated Brad Lawton, chairman of AMT’s Cutting Tool Product Group. “This is supporting evidence that the market is responding, and we hopefully can put the experiences from the pandemic behind and move forward for the balance of 2021.”

“Although there is optimism in the market as we recover from COVID-19, there are headwinds,” Stokey added. “The chip shortage for automobiles, other supply chain issues, labor participation, and government policy are creating uncertainty for the market as we move forward.”

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