“Many are confident that the industry’s recovery is sustainable,” Bulger told delegates at the opening session of PowderMet2012, taking place in Nashville, Texas, USA. 

Total iron powder shipments grew to 363,831 short tons in 2011, a 3% increase in spite of a two-month shutdown of a major powder supplier’s main plant. Shipments of copper and copper-based and tin powders gained almost 19% in the period to 17,002 short tons, while stainless steel powder shipments increased about 5% to an estimated 7,000 short tons.

In the metal injection moulding (MIM) segment, many fabricators have had sales increases in the 20% range, Bulger said. “One market segment that has embraced MIM technology is firearms,” he noted.

Bulger mentioned the need for more dedicated PM training programs and employee-skill upgrades to offset the shortage of experienced production workers and PM engineering professionals that is the residue of the recent economic downturn. “Employee reductions during 2008–09 have not been easy to reverse as the industry has rebounded,” he explained.
This follows news of a recent report that suggests that the global PM market will reach US$30 billion in 2012.