According to figures from Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry published in the Japan Powder Metallurgy Association’s newsletter, total PM production, including structural PM parts, PM bearings, sintered friction materials, current collectors and other PM products, slipped by 1.5% in 2016, compared with 2015, to 93,121 tonnes. Of this total, 85,040 were structural PM parts (-1.4%), 6,227 tonnes PM bearings (- 0.9%), friction materials 596 tonnes (-9.7%), current collectors 65 tonnes (-12.2%), and others 1,193 tonnes (-2.9%). Total sales value of all PM materials produced in Japan in 2016 reached Yen 155,441 million ($1.382 billion), down 3.2% on the previous year.
By far the most important area of applications for both structural PM parts and PM bearings in Japan is the automotive industry. In 2016, the automotive sector consumed 80,405 tonnes, or 94.5%, of total PM part production, and 4,029 tonnes, or 64.7%, of PM bearings were also delivered to Japan’s automotive producers, with the balance going to other sectors of engineering. As can be seen in Fig. 1, structural PM part production and sales in Japan reached a peak in 2007 when more than 130,000 tonnes were produced. Fig. 2 shows production and sales trends for PM bearings in Japan since 1980.