Measures of the MIM growth are possible through several parameters, including the following:
- Patents – Since the start of MIM the total patent generation is large, exceeding 300 by year 2000, but in more recent years the rate of patent generation has slowed and there are today about 200 currently active patents.
- Powder Sales – In 2011 more than 9,000 tons of metal powder were consumed globally by MIM, with a growth rate in powder tonnage use approaching about 20% per year, but due to price reduction the value increases about 14% per year.
- Feedstock Purchase – The two options of self-mixing or purchasing feedstock are available. Several older firms mix their own feedstock, but purchased feedstock has better batch to batch consistency and engineered shrinkage controls.
- Continuous Furnaces – In 2011 the installed capacity of high volume continuous sintering furnaces reached 4,500 tons of products per year, or roughly half the industry production.
- Component Size – The most typical MIM part mass is in the 6 to 10 gram range. The mass range is from below 0.02 g to over 300 g, but the mean is under 10 g. The largest MIM parts are heat dissipaters for the control systems in hybrid electric vehicles at 1.3 kg and some aerospace super-alloy bodies that have similar mass and dimensions reach 200 mm. A growing aspect of MIM is the micro-miniature components where features are in the micrometer range and this approached $68 million per year in sales for 2010.
Of the nearly 400 sites that currently practice MIM; the majority is located in Asia. The leading countries in terms of PIM were the USA with 106 operations, China with 69, Germany with 41, Japan with 38, Taiwan with 17, Korea with 14, and Switzerland with 12. The number of operations is not necessarily indicative of financial size, since one of the largest MIM facilities is in India, a country which only has 5 MIM operations, while the USA has the most firms.
Powder injection molding includes metals, ceramics, and carbides. Together these materials amount to sales for 2011 that reached $1.2 billion, with about $1 billion in MIM.
Summary for Global Powder Injection Molding Sales
|Total PIM sales 2011||$1.2 billion|
|Total MIM sales 2011||$1.0 billion|
|Total number of firms||400|
|Typical R&D staff||2|
|Percent of firms self-mixing||72|
|Total installed number of mixers||380|
|Total installed number of molding machines||2000|
|Total installed number of furnaces||900|
|Percent of industry using thermal debinding||49|
|Percent of industry using solvent debinding||26|
|Percent of industry using catalytic debinding||14|
|Percent of industry using other debinding||11|
|Median part size, g||6|