Metal injection moulding in Asia: current status and future prospects
Feature article: PIM International, Vol.1 No. 1 March 2007, pages 22-26, 2148 words
Director, Epson Atmix Corporation, Hachinohe, Japan
Asia has been at the cutting edge of MIM technology for many years and the region is the world’s largest producer of MIM components. Dr Yoshiyuki Kato, Director, Epson Atmix Corporation, Hachinohe, Japan reviews the current status and future prospects for MIM throughout the Asian region and looks forward to a new era of pan-Asian cooperation on standards and innovation.
Over 20 years have passed since MIM technology was introduced to Asia. MIM business began in Japan and today it has spread to Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, China, India, Thailand and Australia. The current situation is, however, that the MIM industry, in the case of Japan, has a market scale of only about 10% of that of traditional powder metallurgy. There have been high hopes for MIM from each industrial field, yet each time, the result showed a level of expansion below such expectations.
Only Japan is conducting statistical surveys of the MIM industry in Asia, and grasping the accurate status of other countries is difficult. I have been involved in the manufacture and distribution of fine powders for MIM for a number of years, thereby possessing some knowledge on the trends of the MIM industry from its introduction to the present day. I would like to describe a part of the MIM business in Asia based on the results of research conducted on the MIM market in Japan at the beginning of 2006.
Speaking of the Asian MIM industry in a broad terms, as far as we know there are more than, at minimum, 80 MIM corporations in 9 countries, as shown in Table 1. The scale of corporations is diverse with the larger ones employing 300 staff members and smaller ones employing 10 staff members. As with MIM corporations in Europe and the United States, many of the Asian MIM businesses did not originally begin as traditional powder metallurgy corporations, their main product being traditional PM products. Primary operations in some cases are plastic parts manufacturing and in other cases are casting, die manufacturers or heat treatment corporations. As is well known, MIM’s elemental technologies are die, powder, binders, furnace and injection molding. Many Asian MIM corporations possess one of the above elemental technologies as their main business; thereafter, expanding into other elemental MIM technologies. There are very few corporations that began MIM business possessing more than one of the elemental technologies from the beginning; and this lack in elemental technology is, in turn, a factor inhibiting the development of business operations. Yet, MIM is steadily establishing itself in Asia. Its market size is approximately 30 billion Yen, making annual growth of between 10% and 15%. The scale of the MIM industry in Asia is approximately 30% of the world MIM industry. The MIM...
Further sections of this article include:
- Japan: Current Status
- Japan: Future Prospects
- South Korea
- Thailand and Malaysia
- Issues and hopes
Figures and Tables
Fig. 1 MIM sales in Japan 2002-2006. Courtesy JPMA
Fig. 2 The use of MIM parts in Japan by market sector. Courtesy JPMA
Fig. 3 Materials used for MIM parts in Japan. Courtesy JPMA.
Fig. 4 Forecast of MIM business in Japan 2006,2007
Fig. 5 Forecast of MIM business in Japan 2010, 2015
Table 1 Overview of MIM capacity and production in Asia