Metal Powder – Enabling New & Improved Components
Humans have been making materials and things from metal powders for a long time. However, it’s only in the last century that the powder metal manufacturing industry has really emerged. In the last three decades, the rate of change has significantly increased – just like the world outside powder metallurgy. A plethora of components that would not have even been possible a few years back are now being made with high standards using a variety of metal powders.
With rapid technological advancements complementing the use of metal powders in a large number of products, such as rocket fuels, paint pigments, printing inks, and many others, opportunities in metal powder market continue to multiply at an unprecedented pace. This falls in line with the growing awareness about the role of metal powders as base materials for producing metallic components through the powder metallurgy route or the emerging field of additive manufacturing. Gauging the high adoption momentum and opportunistic value of metal powder, Transparency Market Research (TMR), in its latest business intelligence, analyzes how technologically-advanced ways of producing metal powders are paving the way for high-purity solutions, thereby, shaping the growth of the metal powder market.
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Metal Powder Market – Historical Development & Futuristic Outlook
Metal powder is a holy grail for any product; however, it took decades for it to garner traction as a key brick for building essential metal-based components that hold massive industrial value. By the 1920s, manufacturers started leveraging metal powders to make versatile and potent tools and self-lubricating bearings. Years later, the list of metal powder products witnessed expansion, with German engineers making metal powder-based firearm components.
It was only after World War II that powder metallurgy witnessed major growth and diffusion across the industrialized world. The traction for automobiles grew vividly, and so too did the production of sintered metal parts based on metal powders. Since then, the market for metal powder didn’t look back, and garnered increased traction with every passing year, as the TMR analysis indicates an upward trajectory for this industry. The TMR analysis indicates that, the growing adoption of metal powders for manufacturing desired metallic compositions and components armed the market to account for a revenue worth ~ US$ 6.8 Bn in 2018.
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Compelling Trends that are Here to Stay
Additive Manufacturing – High-Value, Long-Term Opportunity
The metal powder industry has incessantly reinvented itself in the modern era to fit in rapidly changing technologies such as additive manufacturing (AM). Additive manufacturing is finding wide employment for the production of a series of components using metal powders for the most demanding applications. This has led to the growing focus of manufacturers on forming gas atomized metal powder that is specially designed for additive manufacturing for applications within; for instance, rapid tooling areas.
Automotive Production – Mine of Applications for Metal Powder
The popularity of 3D printing using powder metals has spiked over the recent past, owing to their wide benefits such as shorter lead times, less labor, reduced waste, and fewer process steps. With quality advances in powder metal (PM) processes, armed with industrial gas technology pushing the additive manufacturing and automotive industry into the fast-forward gear, stakeholders are highly likely to reap unabated gains in the forthcoming years. Iron and steel powder is the most predominately employed metal powder in automotive part production processes due to their high density and precision.
Monumental Significance of Metal Powder Metallurgy Favoring Sales
Rapid increase in the significance of powder metallurgy has set the stage for the colossal production of metal powders, primarily iron and steel, closely trailed by aluminum, copper, and nickel. Increased focus of manufacturers on converting metal powders into beneficial engineering components continues to sustain the growth of the market. With metal powders enabling various component manufacturers to achieve desired shapes that would be challenging or impossible to create with solid metal, their sales are likely to reach a milestone in the years to come.
Iron & Steel Powder Keeping Market Lucrativeness Intact
Shifting focus of companies on leveraging powdered metals over solid metals for wide applications such as magnetic assemblies, filtration systems, sharp gemstone-grinding blades, and auto metal components continue to uplift market gains. The lucrativeness of iron and steel powder is growing notably, as it managed to account for ~ US$ 2.6 Bn in 2018, and is estimated to witness significant adoption in 2019 and beyond. Additionally, the rising demand for metal powders with high stability and heat resistance will further augment the sales of iron and steel powder.
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Winning Strategies to Break Down the Barriers to Success
Intensifying R&D for the Next Wave of Solutions
The accelerating demand for high-purity metal powders that are in tune with the prerequisites of surging additive manufacturing has led to a drastic shift in the focus of manufacturers towards enhancing R&D. For instance, market players such as Rio Tinto, BASF SE and GKN Plc. have been investing in R&D to manufacture metal powders that are tailored to meet in-demand particle size distribution prerequisites. Enhanced process control to offer unparalleled powder flowability and sphericity, and variants with prerequisite characteristics for use in industries is another key area of focus of market players.
Laser Sharp Focus on Unparalleled Opportunities in Asia Pacific
The Asia Pacific metal powder market witnessed sales worth US$ ~ 2.4 Bn in 2018, and is estimated to gain considerable pace with the traction for aluminum powder likely to expand at a notable CAGR through 2019-2027. Moreover, Asia Pacific has become the area of interest of stakeholders, owing to it being an automotive hub. The brownie determinant of Asia Pacific remains the availability of low-cost labor and lucrative incentive policies from the government of China that continue to appeal to leading automotive producers and electrical and electronics manufacturers to make investments in the region. The opportunistic value of metal powders continues to grow due to the increasing demand for automotive components from countries such as China and India. Rise in the production projects of diverse industries is projected to augment the attractiveness of China for partakers from a metal powder adoption point of view.
Acquisitions & Expansions
In light of the potential lucrativeness of acquisitions and expansions in metal powder market, several market goliaths are acquiring local players to expand their geographical footprint. For instance, in May 2019, GKN Powder Metallurgy opened its new powder metallurgy headquarters and Additive Manufacturing Customer Center in North America. This falls in line with the company’s strategy that is aimed at expanding the global 3D printing network, and extending the scope of in-house powder metallurgy capabilities.
On Point Competitive Analysis
In the business journey, several metal powder manufacturers are inducing technology at an unprecedented rate to attain a revolutionary edge in the market. For instance, Montreal-headquartered metal powder producer PyroGenesis has developed the NexGen® Plasma Atomization System, a patent-pending process to produce metal powder for additive manufacturing at a rate of over 25kg/h. Growing technology-induced manufacturing processes in the metal powder market continue to enable the use of metal powder as an instrumental component to develop revolutionary parts with applications in various industries.
The metal powder market can be characterized by the presence of four leading players – Rio Tinto, Hoganas AB, GKN Plc., and Sandvik AB, who are focusing on innovation to address the growing end user quest for fine metal powders. In a fragmented market with a large number of small players, the development of new production plants is garnering increased focus as a solid step in the staircase that leads to a strong hold in market. Sensing the potential gains of setting up new production plants, in February 2018, Sandvik invested SEK 200 Mn in a new manufacturing plant for the production of titanium and nickel fine metal powders, with an aim to complement the company’s existing metal powder portfolio and strengthen its market standing.