Since 2020, the global machine tools market has faced significant challenges, particularly a sharp decline, with a decrease in sales from €75.3 billion to €60.1 billion, largely due to the COVID-19 crisis. Europe, with Cecimo at the helm, holds the largest market share globally, at 34%, while Asian countries like China and Japan also have substantial presences. France has seen a stark downturn in the industry, with its market suffering a trade balance deficit that has worsened over the past decade.

Despite the overall decline, the French market for metalworking machine tools has shown signs of rebound, with manufacturing in this segment seeing growth in 2021 after a dramatic drop in 2020. Nonetheless, the country's demand for machine tools continues to suffer from structural issues, such as the general decrease in automotive and aerospace production domestically.

The machine tool sector is undergoing a transformation propelled by Industry 4.0, requiring manufacturers to enrich their offerings with more technologically advanced and connected products. However, France continues to import more machine tools than it exports, with a trade balance deficit that more than doubled in 2021, reaching -€824 million in 2021, signaling a persistently challenging international trade environment for the country.

Demand Dynamics in the Machine Tool Sector

In the recent years leading up to the pandemic, the machine tool sector has been characterized by a relatively stable demand domestically, with slight variances hinting towards an uptick in interest. The French market, in particular, has experienced growth in sales, especially within the realm of metalworking machine tools. This sector alone had a market size that fluctuated around 1 billion euros, indicating a robust segment within the industry. The demand for machine tools appears to be fairly resilient, with a predominant share of orders remaining stable. Interestingly, industry insights suggest a cautious optimism, with a certain proportion of industry players expecting an increase in order demands in the foreseeable future. This sentiment mirrors the expectations on the export market side, where stability continues to be the theme and a boost in order trends is anticipated by industry stakeholders.

When it comes to specific sectors fueling this demand, the aerospace and automotive markets stand out. These two represent significant consumers of machine tools. Before the pandemic, the aerospace sector witnessed commendable growth, ballooning from between 55 and 60 billion euros in sales to over 65 billion just a few years later—a clear indicator of its strong influence on the machine tool market. However, the subsequent health crisis did not spare this sector, causing a downturn that reverberated through the demand for machine tools. The automotive market also provides valuable insights, even though it has been experiencing a downturn in production within France. This decrease over time implies a contraction in the automotive sector's demand for machine tools.

Nevertheless, despite fewer cars being produced domestically, the average age of factory machinery in France has been getting younger, hovering around 17 years, akin to that observed in Germany. Moreover, the overall demand for machine tools is somewhat reflected in the national industrial potential with numerous industrial sites standing as the final consumers. Here again, the resilience of the demand for machine tools becomes evident, as the number of industrial sites and capacity utilization rates demonstrate an economy attempting to bounce back from various crises while retaining a persistent need for industrial equipment.

In summary, the demand in the machine tool market in France, though facing challenges, displays a certain degree of stability and resilience against economic fluctuations. The market size, steadiness in orders, and potential suggested by the aerospace and automotive sectors are indicative of demand that, while potentially subject to variability in the face of global challenges, still holds strong undercurrents of growth and innovation prospects.

Key Machine Tool Manufacturers Shaping the Future of Industry

The landscape of the machine tool sector is dotted with pivotal entities that play a crucial role in both the domestic French market and on a global scale. These companies are not just manufacturers; they are innovators steering the industry towards the next industrial revolution, popularly termed as Industry 4.0. Here, we highlight the main players mentioned in the text that are setting benchmarks with their expertise and forward-thinking approach in the machine tool market.

  • Fives is a French engineering group that has secured a strong position in the market through strategic acquisitions, such as incorporating certain machining activities from the Dufieux group. Fives has built a reputation for its ability to adapt and bring advanced solutions to meet the evolving demands of modern industries.
  • Numalliance is lauded for its specialization in the cold forming of wires and tubes, with an extensive international reach that signifies the prominence of French machine tool craftsmanship on the world stage.
  • Realmeca is recognized for its dedication to high precision in machine tools, reflecting an alignment with the intricacies required in advanced manufacturing processes and the high-value aerospace and defense markets.
  • Redex offers precision and robust solutions specifically in the metalworking domain, contributing to the French reputation for quality in a sector that sees fierce international competition.
  • Mécanuméric demonstrates commitment through significant investment aimed at enhancing operational capacity, indicative of confidence in future growth and a proactive approach to meeting anticipated demand. **RGI France** has carved a niche in the machine tools space, focusing on hard metal machining and demonstrating the French finesse in dealing with some of the toughest materials.
  • Somab presents a diverse portfolio in the chip removal machine tool segment, showing versatility and the ability to cater to a wide range of manufacturing requirements.
  • Mecanic Worker, another important French player in the market, specializes in woodworking machine tools, showcasing the sector's expertise beyond metalworking applications.
  • Suteau stands out for its specialized machine tools that work with flexible materials, tapping into a diverse market ranging from rubber and foam to cardboard and leather.
  • MFLS directs its competencies towards wood cutting, underlining the importance of precision and robustness in machine tools designed for specific sectors.
  • Thibaut not only represents French expertise but also underscores a unique speciality in manufacturing machine tools for stone working, which broadens the manufacturer's appeal and places it in a distinct category in the market.

These companies play critical roles as the backbone of the machine

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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1 Definition and scope of the study

Machine tools are mechanical equipment mainly intended for machining or repetitive tasks requiring precision and variable power.

This is the Cecimo (the European association of the machine tool industry) which has the largest market share in the world (about one third) (about one third) with major players in Germany and Italy (e.g. Trumpf, Comau, Schuler and SCM). Asian countries also have a strong presence in the global market, particularly Japan and China.

Whilethe global market has been declining in recent years (down 6% in 2019), the French market is experiencing slight growth in sales, driven by the sale of metalworking machine tools. The French market is characterized by a strong the French market is characterized by a strong trade balance deficit, which has tended to increase over the past decade.

Althoughthe final customers in the sector are industrialists, machine tool manufacturers often use intermediaries for distribution.

Finally, the emergence of Industry 4.0 will change the offer of machine tool manufacturers, who will have to enrich their offers and propose innovative products with high technological added value, such as connected machine tools.


List of charts

  • Size of the global machine tool market
  • Market shares of the main machine tool producing countries
  • Market share in Europe
  • Market size for the manufacture of metalworking machine tools
  • Market size of "other machine tools" manufacturing
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Latest news

Equipment manufacturer Fives acquires start-up Dizisoft - 22/02/2023
  • The Fives Group, more than a hundred subsidiaries in 25 countries, 2 billion in sales, 1,600 employees
  • Dizisoft, a start-up company, publishes a software suite to help manufacturers control and understand their processes
  • The software suite can be implemented on any machine, whatever its age or make
  • 1.600 licenses deployed, 1.6 million in annual revenues

Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

Comau France
Komatsu Ltd
Fives Group

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