The European Powder Metallurgy industry is benefiting from the gradual economic recovery in Europe, and particularly from a rejuvenated automotive industry over the past couple of years. Both ferrous and copper-based powder shipments to the PM industry were reported by the European Powder Metallurgy Association (EPMA) to have increased by 7.1% in 2014 compared with the previous year to 197,612 tonnes.
Ferrous PM powder shipments increased by 7.3% to 183,625 tonnes, whilst copper-base PM powder shipments showed a gain of 3.9% to 13,987 tonnes. The EPMA expects this growth trend to continue for 2015 with an anticipated 5% increase for PM powder shipments over the whole year.
The Metal Injection Moulding (MIM) sector is also reported by the EPMA to have put in another steady performance in 2014 gaining by around 10% by sales value to an estimated €280 million.
The Hot Isostatic Pressing (HIP) sector, where production is almost equally shared by HIPed stainless steel and HIPed tool steel/high-speed steels, has also reported growth despite the negative impact of the fall in oil prices on the energy/offshore sector with total production in 2014 estimated at just over 14,000 tonnes. A potential market for HIPing is anticipated from the secondary compaction or densification of products manufactured by Additive Manufacturing (AM).
The EPMA reports that the European hard materials sector had a relatively tough year in 2014 with, little change in production volumes due to declines in the construction and tooling sectors.