The POWDERMET2019 International Conference on Powder Metallurgy and Particulate Materials was held in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, from June 23-26, 2019. Organised by the Metal Powder Industries Federation (MPIF), the event attracted over 850 participants and included three days of presentations accompanied by an exhibition and a range of social and networking events.
The Opening General Session included a presentation by MPIF President John F Sweet, PMT, who gave delegates a detailed overview of the state of the North American Powder Metallurgy industry.
Sweet stated that the North American Powder Metallurgy industry posted modest growth in most sectors in 2018. The traditional press and sinter sector gained, along with Metal Injection Moulding (MIM) companies enjoying stronger sales increases in the 5–10% range.
Metal powder producers and PM equipment builders were said to have reported positive gains, with equipment companies reporting rising demand for automation packages and robotics. Interest in metal Additive Manufacturing continued at a rapid pace, but AM companies were still tackling challenges related to qualifying parts for commercial production runs.
Metal powder shipments and trends
North American iron powder shipments in 2018 grew by 1% to 392,995 mt (433,203 st), as shown in Fig. 1. PM and friction grade powder shipments were almost even with 2017, at 357,590 mt (394,176 st). Iron powder shipments for welding applications increased by 11% to 15,839 mt (17,460 st). Iron powder going into other uses increased by 5.7% to 19,565 mt (21,567 st).
Sweet stated that 2018 iron and steel powder shipments in Europe and Japan were almost level with 2017. Estimated North American stainless steel powder shipments in 2018 remained even with 2017 at 7,938 mt (8,750 st). Copper powder shipments increased by an estimated 2% to 16,783 mt (18,500 st), with aluminium powder shipments also increasing 2% to an estimated 30,536 mt (33,660 st).
Nickel powder consumption declined by about 3.5% to an estimated 5,534 mt (6,100 st). Molybdenum shipments declined an estimated 23.4% to 856 mt (944 st). Tungsten powder shipments decreased by an estimated 7.4% to 1,588 mt (1,750 st), and tungsten carbide powder shipments decreased an estimated 1.6% to 7,792 mt (8,590 st). Overall, 2018 total North American metal powder shipments gained modestly by just under 1% to 464,022 mt (511,497 st) (Fig. 2).