North American Metal Injection Moulding companies reported a positive outlook with sales forecast to continue growing in the years ahead despite a slowdown in growth in 2014.
Peter K Johnson, writing in the International Journal of Powder Metallurgy (Vol. 51, No. 1, Winter 2015), stated that MIM related companies saw sales increasing by around 5% in 2014 following double-digit growth a year earlier. Johnson attributed the decline in growth to a cooling in demand from the North American firearm sector with some MIM companies reporting a decline of up to 40% in the first half of 2014. North American MIM sales were estimated to be in the range of $315 million to $370 million shared by some 70 companies, including 18 captive MIM operations.
MIM grade metal powder shipments increased slightly to a range of 1,181 to 1,512 metric tonnes. The distribution of end user sectors based on the weight of MIM parts shipped was reported to be dominated by firearms at 28% with general industrial at 24%, medical/dental at 19%, automotive 15%, electronics 9% and miscellaneous at 5%.
Johnson reported that automotive engineers were designing more MIM parts for applications in engines, electrical systems and chassis hardware. He stated that Ford and General Motors are designing MIM parts for car models set for introduction in around five years. Other markets offering growth potential include defence, aerospace, heat sinks and thermal conducting parts, and jewellery.