US shipments of iron powder in the first quarter of this year were nearly two thirds higher  at more than 88 000 tons than the same period of 2009, and 25% higher than the last quarter of 2009, when the upward curve of economic activity was clear. Copper powder shipments in Q1 are also much improved from 2009, moving ahead by nearly 40% on the same period last year.

European figures show first quarter iron powder shipments 86% up on Q1 2009 at more than 40 000 tonnes. The figures confirm the positive trend that has been clear from the second half of last year with the latest figures showing a 10% growth in shipments from Q4 2009 to Q1 2010. Copper powder shipments, which in Q1 2009 had been battered to below 1500 tonnes, recorded a near 230% increase in shipments of more than 3300 tonnes in the first quarter of 2010.

Italian PM, which started to grow again in 2005 from around 26 000 tonnes annually, peaked at around 34 000 tonnes in 2007 before falling back slightly to around 31 000 tonnes in 2008, figures issued by the trade association, Assinter, reveal. Last year, however, production plummeted by 27.8% to just over 22 000 tonnes compared to 2008.

Analysis of the market shows that while 80% of powders for sintered structural parts are imported, local producer Pometon’s activities could account for the remaining 20%. In terms of technological trends, although automotive claims the lion’s share of the Italian market at 59%, instrumentation and mechanical devices, DIY and domestic appliances all had significant market shares.

Figures for MIM were not included in the Italian statistics, but seven companies are active in this important and rapidly growing market.