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State of the Metal Injection Molding industry in North America

24th Jul, 2017

According to Patrick McGeehan, President of the Metal Powder Industries Federation (MPIF), the US Metal Injection Molding sector saw a sales increase of about 10% in 2016 to an estimated range of $350-$400 million.

In his presentation during the Opening General Session of POWDERMET2017, the International Conference on Powder Metallurgy and Particulate Materials, Las Vegas, USA, June 13-16, 2017, McGeehan also estimated that MIM-grade powders consumed in the US increased by at least 10% to a range of 1,365,000–1,745,700 kg (3–3.85 million lb).

The US Metal Injection Molding (MIM) industry includes between twenty-five and thirty commercial parts makers, plus fifteen to eighteen captive operations making primarily medical, dental and firearms components for their own products. It was stated that in the US, stainless steels and low-alloy steels continue to dominate the MIM materials mix, representing an estimated 83% of powders consumed.

Other MIM materials include soft magnetic materials, tungsten alloys, titanium, tool steels, Inconel 625 and 718 and tungsten carbide. McGeehan stated that traditional MIM markets remain steady, except for a significant decline in the firearms market beginning in early 2017.

The MPIF’s 2017 Pulse Survey among members of the Metal Injection Molding Association (MIMA) shows the market breakdown of North American MIM parts shipped by weight in 2016.

The results point to continued sales increases, with 89% of Metal Injection Molding Association (MIMA) respondents projecting sales increases during 2017.

It was also stated that Hot Isostatic Pressing (HIP) industry companies gained in 2016 based on a pick-up in demand from the aerospace and aircraft engine (commercial and military) markets. Demand for densification services for the Metal Injection Molding and metal Additive Manufacturing sectors remains strong and will continue to grow.

McGeehan summarised by stating that with signals from the national economy still flashing good news, the broader Powder Metallurgy industry’s general outlook for 2017 should be satisfactory, with this being especially true for the Metal Injection Molding (MIM) and metal AM sectors.

“PM companies are well-positioned to meet the challenges ahead with realistic expectations, careful planning and R&D investments. Opportunities within the industry are plentiful,” stated McGeehan. “PM’s positive history of reinventing itself by adopting new technologies and entering new markets will certainly support continued growth in the years ahead.”

POWDERMET2017 was organised by the MPIF and attracted over 950 participants. Three days of presentations were accompanied by an exhibition and a range of social and networking events.

POWDERMET2018, the International Conference on Powder Metallurgy & Particulate Materials, will take place in San Antonio, Texas, USA, June 17–20, 2018.