By Kari Williamson

Before the mid-2000s, the tungsten carbide manufacturing industry saw minimal growth with demand only increasing at a marginal rate. Since then tungsten and tungsten carbide products have grown in use in machining and drilling applications where material strength is increasingly sought after for quality and productivity enhancements.

“As new applications for the metal and its various alloys were developed and demand from the manufacturing sector boomed, prices began to increase and stockpiles began to be sold off,” says IBISWorld Industry Analyst Brian Bueno.

Subsequently, demand has outstripped supply and prices have surged. Rapid global economic growth before the recession further intensified demand, and the industry grew at a breakneck pace.

Although the recession caused some slowing down, the continued rise in global tungsten demand, combined with tightened Chinese control of raw mined tungsten, has pushed prices higher over 2010 and 2011, Bueno says.

As these demand conditions continue to play out in 2012, industry revenue is expected to jump. Over the past five years, the tungsten carbide manufacturing industry's revenues are estimated to grow 22.4% per year on average.

The industry is anticipated to continue a period of strong growth to 2017.

US production of tungsten products is expected to increase as downstream markets in machinery manufacturing and other industrial sectors demand more of the metal and return to health alongside a growing US and global economy.

Global trends in tungsten production, such as China's tightening control of mining output, will also continue to raise prices.