Tuesday, July 7, 2009

25-year low in 2008, shipments this year still decreasing due to lack of demand

Demand drop from automakers still cutting shipments this year

Tom Stundza -- Purchasing, 7/7/2009 12:17:35 PM EDT

North American metal powder shipments dropped 18.4% in 2008 to 415,427 net tons and have declined further during the first half of 2009. That's the word from Mark Paullin, president of the Metal Powder Industries Federation, speaking at the PowderMet2009 Conference in Las Vegas.

Shipments in 2008 were the lowest in 25 years (426,050 tons in 1994) and could drop under 400,000 net tons this year since the continuing decrease in auto production has reduced the need for powder-metal parts and caused further reduction in metal power production, according to Paullin.

"Just like U.S. manufacturing in general, the PM industry has been impacted negatively by the current recession and plunging automotive production," Paullin says. According to a MPIF spokesman, shipment into automotive "were especially abysmal in the first quarter" and probably won't be back on track until the fourth quarter, or more likely, 2010.

The powder metallurgy industry weakened in the second half of 2008, especially in the final quarter mainly due to a sharp decrease in auto production in November and December. Iron powder production and deliveries declined 19% to 327,272 short tons, copper and copper-based powder shipments declined 13% to17,400 short tons, and stainless steel powder shipments declined about 20% to an estimated 7,750 short tons.

Declines also were registered by tin, nickel, tungsten, tungsten carbide, molybdenum, and aluminum metal powders.

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