After a strong recovery in 2010 from the global economic crisis a year earlier, Japan’s metal powder and Powder Metallurgy component producers had a testing year in 2011. It was, of course, heavily impacted by the earthquake and tsunami in north east Japan on March 11, 2011, which left most automobile producers with disrupted component supply and shortage of electricity to operate plants.
Figures from the Japan Powder Metallurgy Metallurgy Association (JPMA) showed a decline in PM part production of up to 20% in the period immediately after disaster – March to May 2011. This was followed by a gradual improvement over the remaining months of the year as demand from the automotive sector, which accounts for over 90% of PM part output in Japan, began to normalise (Fig.1).
As can also be seen in Fig. 1, demand for PM bearings was similarly affected but not to the same extent as PM structural parts.
The end effect was a 4.3% year-on-year decline in PM part production to 90,719 mt in 2011, and a 3.6% drop year-on-year in PM bearings to 6,388 mt. (Figs. 2 and 3).
In terms of metal powder shipments, the JPMA reports that iron powder shipments for PM decreased by 4.6% to 105,989 mt in 2011, whilst copper powders for PM declined 10.7% to 5174 mt.
Improved exports of iron powders, up 7.4% to nearly 70,000 mt, and a 10% increase in other uses of iron powders to 33,500 mt helped Japan’s iron powder producers to increase overall shipments by 1.3% to over 209,000 mt in 2011.
Posted by: Paul Whittaker, Editor ipmd.net, [email protected]