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The State of the Powdered Metal (PM) Industry in North America keynote address presented at the Metal Powder Industries Federation (MPIF) conference in Las Vegas last month indicated several market and industry trends that resonated with the Atlas Pressed Metals leadership in attendance at the conference.

Delivered by Patrick J. McGeehan, president of MPIF, the state of the industry address was marked with evidence of modest growth factors, encouraging market trends, and positive outlooks for the balance of the year, bolstered by members’ intentions for hiring new employees and investing in capital. However, the industry must continue to look at opportunities in new markets to offset the anticipated decline of PM use in lightweight vehicles, due to light-weighting requirements imposed on the automotive industry, McGeehan indicated.

MPIF administers the annual PM Industry Pulse survey in order to gather trend data from conventional press-and-sinter, metal injection molding (MIM), metal additive manufacturing (AM) and hot isostatic pressing (HIP) subsectors. Survey findings included:

  • 69% of respondents have experienced reshoring or re-sourcing of parts returning to the U.S. from foreign sources.
  • Feedback from PM customers indicates that U.S.-made parts are now competitively priced vs. Chinese manufactured PM.
  • Sufficient capacity exists among domestic manufacturers to support intended industry growth.

Further trends include deeper implementation of automation, developing complexity of tooling due to gear innovation and advances in asymmetrical parts, and increased investment into rapid cooling and other furnace technologies to enhance manufacturing capabilities.

“Companies based in PM’s heartland, Western Pennsylvania, enjoyed positive business levels across the board,” McGeehan reported. “The many family-owned job shops offer rapid-response service to customer needs, quick decision-making and short-run production… Traditional PM parts sales should still experience moderate growth in the automotive, consumer products and industrial equipment markets.”

In advancements within the industry, McGeehan predicted that PM companies are “well-positioned to meet the challenges ahead with realistic expectations, careful planning and R&D investments.”

Atlas Pressed Metals, located in DuBois, Pa., is one of those Western Pennsylvania family-owned powdered metal job shops, whose leadership attributes much of its success as a growing company toward its culture for rapid response, agility, and flexibility in supplying customers for short- and long-run products, stated Jude Pfingstler, President of the company. Richard Pfingstler, Atlas’ CEO, agreed, noting the trends are “somewhat mirroring” Atlas’ business as a whole in growth, product mix, long-term planning and investment focus. The company has in the past two years invested in a building expansion, new presses and furnaces, and automation for some of its higher volume lines, while developing a 5-year strategic plan.

“Pat McGeehan’s address really resounded with us,” Jude Pfingstler said, “because we are living many of these growth challenges and opportunities right now. We are seeing reshoring trends from a number of our global customers, and we are also looking into new markets to further stabilize our growth trajectory.”

For more information about Atlas Pressed Metals, call 814.371.4800 x104.