Although up-to-date statistics on drilling tools are hard to come by, official figures for the years between 1993 and 1996 show a marked drop in UK manufacturers’ sales of diamond or agglomerated diamond tools.
These peaked at £6.9m in 1994, before falling to £3.7m in 1996, according to Office for National Statistics figures.
High-speed steel drills saw consistent growth over the same period, with sales more than doubling between 1993 and 1996. Sales of sintered metal carbide drills remained consistent at between £1m and £2m in the same period.
The UK’s trade deficit in plastic and rubber injection mould tools grew to £47.2m in 1998. Exports declined 43% to £16.6m, while imports fell 15% to £63.8m.
The export market is particularly difficult to predict. France, the top export destination in 1997, failed to reach the top five in 1998. The US and Germany saw only slightly-reduced sales of UK equipment, but sales in Ireland fell 46%.
UK sales by Japanese manufacturers fell slightly, but Japan’s overall share of imports rose to 20.5%. Germany and Belgium saw their overall sales increase, but sales of Italian tools fell 35% to £8.6m.