India ranks 17th in production and 12th in the consumption of machine tools in the world. The country is set to become a key player in the global machine tools industry and is likely to see substantial high-end machine tool manufacturing, even as China keeps its lead in lower-end machine tool volumes. Several firms have entered the Indian machine tools sector, or announced plans for joint ventures or wholly owned subsidiaries in India.

Industry experts believe that the phenomenon is linked to the spurt in manufacturing, for which the machine tools sector serves as the mother industry. Since the manufacturing capacity is stagnating and the growth rate for the machine tools industry is falling in the developed economies, shifting machine tool capacity to low-cost high skill geographies like India, has become viable.

The industry can be segmented in several ways:

1.    Based on how the metal is shaped, the industry can be classified into–metal cutting machines and metal forming machines. Metal cutting accounted for 87 percent of the total output of machine tools in India in 2007-08.
2.    Based on how the tool selection/ movement is controlled, the industry can be classified into – CNC machines and conventional machines. CNC machine tools comprised nearly 60 percent of the total machine tools produced in 2007-08.
3.     Based on the usage purpose, the industry can be classified into – general-purpose machines and special-purpose machines.

Although the Indian machine tool industry has its fair share of domestic manufacturers, it remains a net importer of machine tools.  Imports in this sector have increased 3.6 times in the fiscal 2008-09 over fiscal 2004-05. The major suppliers include Japan, Germany, Italy, Korea, China, and the United States. There are no restrictions on the import of machine tool equipment to India. The total duty for importing machine equipments is 8.1 percent

The Indian machine tools sector offers several opportunities for investment and trade. Given the current gap between demand and supply, there is a clear need for adding capacity in this sector. The industry is moving toward increasingly sophisticated CNC machines, driven by demand from key user segments, such as automobiles and consumer durables.
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