Top Ten Companies in Powder Metallurgy
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Powder metallurgy is the science of fabrication of components with metal powders as their starting materials. This is in contrast to conventional metallurgy, which involves processes such as melting and pouring, casting, drawing, forming, cutting, machining, welding, extrusion, forging and other related processes. In conventional metallurgy, the metal or alloy is always in a continuous physical form, either solid or liquid, and is made into various shapes and articles using the above-mentioned processes. In the case of powder metallurgy, these processes are replaced by new and easier methods by which to process powders, such as blending, compacting and sintering.
One of the major drawbacks of conventional metallurgy is the phase rule, which dictates what ratios of specific elements can coexist in solid or liquid phase together in one continuum. This drawback is completely eliminated when the metal powders are handled through the powder metallurgical process.
The processes in powder metallurgy mimic those in ceramics, in which powders of different oxides are typically blended and then sintered together to form the final product, combining the desired chemistry, shape and characteristics. Several unique materials and shapes are thus possible under this manufacturing route, and the technology is routinely finding newer niche applications for its products.
Powder metallurgy is sometimes referred to as the chipless process, meaning there is nearly zero waste of material. This is due to the absence of machining operations compared to conventional metallurgical methods mentioned earlier. Statistics show that 97% or higher of the input material is retained in the final part. This alone saves the industry huge amounts of money as all conventional metal processing methods result in double-digit waste of material between incoming material and final product.
This focused report profiles the top 10 companies of this industry globally, and provides comments on several transformative changes that are happening in the powder metallurgy industry. The industry as such has a wide range of companies as players including metal powder manufacturers, part manufacturers, equipment manufacturers, end users and several unique supporting suppliers.
The industry is well developed and mature, and has several global communities, groups, associations and similar organizations that support, campaign for, lobby and market the needs and services of the industry. These range from local clusters to international organizations of various sizes and membership counts. Overall, the industry is estimated to have more than 5,000 companies, not to mention the several thousands of less-established upcoming players.
The powder metallurgy industry caters to a wide range of industries including automotive, aerospace, medical and dental. In the recent years there have also been several new applications for powdered metals such as conductive inks, paints and electronics. This report will explore these application areas in detail.
This document is a specialty report related to the BCC Research report AVM007K Powder Metallurgy: Technologies and Global Markets, authored by Andrew McWilliams. That report provides a global review of the industry with trends, regulatory aspects and other macro-level factors. In that report, numerous companies are listed in brief along with their region of operation and products. The goal of this document is to provide a more in-depth look at the top-tier companies in the industry and to take a closer look at how the products from these companies are addressed in the market, thus providing an explorative financial and technical review to the readers.
The objectives include identifying companies that are considered the leaders and what technologies or management contributions make them leaders. There are certain market drivers and some constraints to both the companies and to the evolving technology they seek to dominate. There is a desire to ascertain whether these companies will be able to meet the continuing demand for their products by proprietary technology, strategy alliances, superior marketing or other sought-after advantages.
Most of the information presented in this report is based on that available from annual reports, various regulatory filings, company website, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and other public sources, and the author hereby acknowledges the same. Additional information was sourced from industry experts and people with a close understanding of the industry dynamics.
The scope of this report is focused on a select 10 companies in the powder metals industry. This is in many ways a selected due diligence of the key companies and drivers in the PM marketplace. An attempt has been made to include top companies in metal powder manufacturing as well as those companies that use powder metal to fabricate components. Also included are descriptions of several up-and-coming global players companies that appear to have the potential to become major contributors in the PM market.
Vijay Subramanian has a PhD in Materials Science and has extensive experience in the field of materials, including an in-depth understanding of metal powders and its applications. He worked for more than a decade in the automotive industry in the U.S. and later in India, and owns multiple U.S. patents in the fields of coatings and friction materials. He has been authoring reports for BCC Research since 2012.