The EPMA’s new President, Philippe Gundermann, presented an upbeat view of the European Powder Metallurgy industry during his opening plenary presentation at the Euro PM2013 Congress in Gothenburg, Sweden, September 15-18.
Gundermann began with an overview of the EPMA’s activities, highlighting the work of the associations established sectorial groups and noting the creation of a new Additive Manufacturing group in response to the growth of this rapidly developing sector. Using the analogy of a tree with many branches, each representing a sector of PM, Gundermann stated that “the tree of PM technologies grows and grows.”
The presentation continued with Gundermann identifying some of the key factors that make PM an attractive technology, especially in times when energy and raw material prices are forcing the use of more efficient processes with better material utilisation. As well as the savings in raw materials and energy consumption, PM offers lower costs due to savings in machining, welding and assembly, stated Gundermann, PM also offers shorter lead times and a freedom of design and material properties that either impossible or very difficult via other processes, he added.
With some 82% of European PM parts production (by volume) identified as structural ferrous parts (Fig. 1), Gundermann also highlighted PM’s strong relationship with the automotive industry. Production of passenger vehicles in Europe has fallen in recent years despite a gradual increase in new car registrations since 2010, he stated. Globally, however, the production of light vehicles is rising, strongly driven by the growing Chinese market.
Reflecting the fall in auto production in the region, Gundermann reported that the European shipments of ferrous powder for PM applications also fell in 2012 (Fig 2). It can be seen that copper powder figures, however, have been reported as fairly level for the last three years (2010-1012).
Hard material production was also reported as falling in 2012, according to figures from Kennametal and HC Starck (Fig. 3). In 2012 production was estimated at around 15,000 tonnes, lower than in 2011, but about equal to 2010 figures.
On a more positive note, Gundermann stated that Metal Injection Moulding (MIM) sales in Europe continued an upward climb and were reported at around €230 million in 2012, up from just over €200 million in 2011 (Fig. 4).
Gundermann also presented a very positive view of the Additive Manufacturing industry, clearly showing a jump in growth since 2011. It is hoped that the establishment of the EPMA’s Additive Manufacturing group will bring together companies involved in the metal sector of this technology from across the supply chain.