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May 7, 2000

2 Min Read
The state of the PIM market

Though the powder injection molding (PIM) market is still in the early stages of growing and evolving, it has matured enough that we can now look back on how much, how well, and in which direction it has grown and appears to be heading.

Measuring this growth is Robert Cornwall, president of Innovative Material Solutions Inc., a market research and analysis firm based in State College, PA. He and Penn State’s Randall German surveyed and analyzed the PIM market over the last few years and have developed some numbers and statistics that paint a picture of where the market’s been.

Signs of Growth
The 1997 data show that there were some 240 identified parts manufacturers, 12 feedstock suppliers, and approximately 4000 employees in the industry worldwide. Among the parts suppliers, 54 percent produced metal parts, 38 percent produced ceramic parts, and 8 percent produced cemented carbides.

Today, Cornwall estimates, there are 375 identified parts manufacturers, more than 15 feedstock suppliers, about 40 powder producers, and more than 6000 people employed in the industry. And, since 1997 the number of metal parts producers has increased, mainly at the expense of ceramic parts, which has decreased. The number of cemented carbide parts has remained the same.

Assessing powder and feedstock trends, Cornwall says there are fewer powder suppliers, and those that remain will look to manufacture feedstocks. Additionally, more molders will use preformulated feedstocks, helping lead to greater part-to-part uniformity.

Productivity
Regarding molding machine production, the industry averages more than $600,000 in sales annually per press. Companies starting up and testing the technology have sales below this average; experienced companies generally see their sales-per-machine average increase as the quantity of machines increases.

Cornwall’s research shows that the number of continuous furnaces is increasing. Companies with batch and sintering furnaces are better able to maximize productivity. Most furnaces are batch and 65 percent of companies have fewer than four furnaces. The average annual sales per furnace starts at $800,000 and ranges into the millions of dollars.

Mixer sales were also tracked by Cornwall. More than 50 percent of parts-producing companies have at least one mixer, but increasingly more companies are buying preformulated feedstock. Still, companies with the highest sales have two mixers. The average annual sales per mixer is about $3 million, except for startup companies.

Cornwall rounds out the report with, among other things, industry and customer concerns. They include quality variation among vendors because of processing differences; growth without fundamental knowledge; intellectual shallowness among producers; repeated mistakes and repeated learning; and industry fragmentation that hinders process marketability.

To receive the complete PIM technology and market report, contact Innovative Material Solutions Inc.

Contact information
Innovative Material Solutions Inc.
State College, PA
Robert Cornwall
Phone: (814) 867-1140
E-mail: [email protected]

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