US demand to grow 6.2% annually through 2015
Demand for metal powder in the US is projected to grow 6.2 percent annually to 1.4 billion pounds in 2015, valued at $4.8 billion. Increased output in several key industries -- including motor vehicles, batteries and electrical equipment, and machinery manufacturing -- will be the primary drivers of growth. In addition, improved cost-to-performance ratios for parts, along with lower waste and closer tolerance components, will continue to entice manufacturers to switch production of many parts to press and sinter techniques. In additive and catalyst applications, metal powders also offer a variety of performance enhancements.
Ferrous powders to outpace nonferrous in volume terms
Ferrous powders accounted for 62 percent of the metal powder market total by volume in 2010, and demand is projected to rise 6.6 percent per year to 914 million pounds in 2015. Iron and steel, and stainless steel powders are used in a variety of applications, including automotive parts, chemical additives and components in machinery. Nonferrous powders encompass a much wider variety of metals, including base metals such as aluminum, zinc, cobalt, tungsten and tantalum, as well as silver, gold and platinum group metals. Nonferrous powder sales are expected to climb 5.6 percent annually to 531 million pounds in 2015, slower than demand for ferrous powders. While nonferrous metals held only 38 percent of the 2010 market by volume, they accounted for 80 percent of total market value.
Motor vehicles to remain dominant market by volume
In 2010, an average of 53 pounds of metal powders were used in every motor vehicle made in the US. Metal powders are used in every major system in automobiles, and as vehicle production in the US rebounds, metal powder usage will increase as well. US machinery manufacturing relies on high quality and technological superiority over foreign competition, meaning parts used in production are complex and difficult to make. Metal powders allow the costeffective production of many of these parts. Computers and electronics manufacturers use the smallest amount of metal powders by volume, but are the largest dollar value market. Producers use high value metal powders (such as tantalum and precious metals) manufactured to tight tolerances, which elevates the value of the powders.
Electrical equipment made with metal powders includes primary batteries, electric motor brushes and appliance parts. Battery sales will see the strongest growth, as the US ramps up production to feed growing world demand. A number of other markets -- including chemicals, and aerospace and other transportation equipment -- also depend on metal powders for complex components with very specific materials properties.
Learn how to effectively navigate the market research process to help guide your organization on the journey to success.Download eBook