Index of hourly rates showed a 1.6% increase over the first half of 2013, the largest increase since midyear 2010.

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Thanks to readers of the Plastics Technology blog and Twitter postings, we present the first update in a year of results from our exclusive Custom Injection Molders’ Machine-Hour Rate Survey. This survey is distributed via email twice a year, but the results for midyear 2013 were not reported due to insufficient numbers of responses.

The data presented here are for the end of 2013. Our index of hourly rates showed a 1.6% increase over the first half of 2013, the largest increase since midyear 2010, when the recovery from the Great Recession was just getting underway.

Average capacity utilization from the 80 respondents was down 1.5 points from the end of 2012, but was still 1.5 points higher than at the end of 2011. Our index of new mold orders from the 40 custom shops with in-house moldmaking was up 2.8%, the strongest showing since mid-2011.

Custom molders were strongly optimistic at the end of last year: More than 71% expected improving business conditions in the near term, while only 7.5% expected worsening conditions.

We will start our survey of current conditions at the end of this month. Look for an email with a link to the survey or check our blog and Twitter postings for that link. Please take a few minutes to answer the questions, so we can get the newest data to you as soon as possible.