US demand for industrial fasteners is forecast to increase 4.3 percent per year to $14.8 billion in 2017. This considerable improvement from the performance registered during the 2007 to 2012 period will be driven by improved outlooks in a majority of the industries in which industrial fasteners are utilized. Sales growth will be supported by rebounding levels of motor vehicle manufacturing, along with rising aerospace equipment and machinery shipment levels. Fastener producers will also benefit from renewed strength in both construction activity and fixed investment spending. In addition, gains will be bolstered by fastener manufacturers offering highly engineered, advanced fastener products that can be sold at a premium. On the other hand, demand will be held back by competition from producers in lower-cost regions, and from moderating raw material costs, both of which will serve to restrict industrial fastener price increases. Furthermore, these products will continue to face competition in a number of applications from alternative joining technologies, such as adhesives, clinching, and welding.
Motor vehicle market to post above-average growth
The large US motor vehicle market for industrial fasteners is expected to post above-average yearly growth through 2017. This will be a major improvement from the lack of sales gains experienced from 2007 to 2012. Market expansion will be the result of modest annual increases in motor vehicle production through 2017, a major turn-around from the output declines posted during the 2007 to 2012 period. In many cases, motor vehicle manufacturers will continue attempts to decrease the number of fasteners per vehicle in order to reduce weight and simplify production. However, fastener producers will find opportunities for growth by offering lighter and more durable product designs, as well as fasteners specifically for the increasing electric and hybrid vehicle market.
Standard fasteners to outpace aerospace-grade
The market for standard fasteners is expected to outpace aerospace-grade fastener sales through 2017. This will largely be a reflection of the improved conditions in the motor vehicle market, which uses primarily standard fasteners. Externally threaded and application specific standard fasteners will post the fastest gains through 2017, although the outlook is positive for every major product category. While not forecast to match standard products, aerospace-grade fastener sales will fare better than they did during the 2007-2012 period.
Suppliers will benefit from increasing levels of commercial aircraft production. The growing use of composite materials in plane manufacturing will reduce the total number of fasteners required on a per plane basis in many cases, but this will be partially offset by sales of highervalue fastening products designed specifically for use with composites.
Imports to grow slightly faster than exports
Shipments of industrial fasteners from US manufacturers are forecast to slightly lag the rate of growth in domestic demand through 2017. Gains will be supported by improved market conditions and the reshoring of some fastener-using manufacturing operations. However, competition from foreign suppliers will remain intense. Import growth will narrowly outpace export growth through 2017, and the US trade deficit in industrial fasteners will expand.
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