Cutting, Insulating Glass Machinery Popular Among Fabricators

By Nick St. Denis

Demand for fabricated architectural glass and glazing products remains strong at the midway point of 2023, led by a non-residential construction industry that is resilient in the face of economic uncertainty. As glass and metal fabricators work to meet the demand, they are making ample capital investments to upgrade and expand their capabilities. USGlass magazine and its parent company Key Media & Research (KMR) recently conducted a survey of glass fabricators to gain a sense of where they have spent and/or plan to spend their machinery dollars.

Recent Buying Activity

Nearly nine in 10 (88%) of fabricators say they made a fabrication machinery purchase in the last two years. Of that group of customers, the three most common purchases were CNC cutting equipment, drilling equipment and insulating glass machinery.

The average dollar amount fabricators spent on total machinery purchases over this time, including teardown and installation/re-installation, was $850,000. The average total cost of the most expensive purchase among these fabricators was $447,000, a figure that is likely bolstered by the several fabricator respondents that made high-dollar purchases, including tempering and laminating lines, in addition to insulating glass machinery. More than eight of 10 (83%) of fabrication machinery purchases were new, with the remaining 17% used.

What’s Expected Ahead

Approximately three quarters (77%) of fabricators say they plan to make a machinery purchase in the next two years. The most common machinery types identified were CNC cutting, glass washing, and a tie between insulating glass, beveling and robotics.

Roughly two-thirds (68%) of planned machinery purchases within the next two years are expected to take place between three and 12 months from the time of the survey, which would be the fourth quarter of 2023 through the first half of 2024.

Additional Perspective

The percentage of fabricators planning to make a machinery purchase was consistent with similar research conducted at the beginning of the year in a separate study by KMR. Other consistencies included the significant share of fabricators planning to purchase cutting, insulating and washing equipment. However, in that previous study, tempering machinery, in addition to lifting equipment, also ranked high.

Nick St. Denis is the director of research for Key Media & Research (KMR), parent company of USGlass magazine. To subscribe to his free Glass and Glazing Quarterly Review report, or for any other research-related inquiries, email nstdenis@glass.com

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