A report by Peter K Johnson published in the International Journal of Powder Metallurgy (No.1, 2014), states that shipments of metal powders for the Metal Injection Moulding (MIM) sector in North America grew to estimated market range of 1,125 to 1,440 metric tonnes in 2013, a rise of 15% to 25% over 2012.
Johnson put the estimated value of MIM sales in the $300-$350 million range. According to a survey of the sector undertaken by the Metal Injection Molding Association (MIMA) in 2013 there are around 70 MIM operations in North America of which 25% are captive (in-house). MIM components for the firearms industry are said to have the largest market share at 25% followed by medical devices and dental applications at 23% and automotive at 12%. Johnson stated that aerospace and defence currently make up only around 5% of MIM parts but this is expected to increase considerably as MIM finds new applications in the next generation of aircraft engines being introduced in the 2015 to 2020 timeframe. MIM aerospace parts are expected to include small blades and retainer rings made from superalloy powders such as Inconel and Hastelloy.
Johnson also reported on the outlook for MIM which according to the recent MIMA survey will give further growth this year and in 2015. MIMAalso identified technology improvements that will advance MIM applications. These include better carbon and dimensional control, improved cosmetic quality, better non-destructive testing methods for defect detection, and increased spending on R&D on special alloys and titanium.