US Demand for Abrasives to Grow Over 4% Annually Through 2014

The US demand for abrasives is set to grow over 4% annually through 2014 to $5.7 billion.

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Demand for abrasives in the US is forecast to increase 4.2 percent per annum through 2014 to $5.7 billion, with raw material demand reaching $1.2 billion. Gains will be driven by a rebound in durable goods manufacturing activity as the economy recovers from the sharp slowdown of the 2004-2009 period. However, an expected moderation in abrasives prices through 2014 will hold back value gains to some extent.

Durable goods manufacturing markets will continue to comprise the majority of abrasives demand in 2014, accounting for 74 percent of the total. Although many of these markets will log solid gains, the motor vehicle, primary metals and machinery markets will offer excellent prospects for abrasives.

For example, motor vehicle production is expected to post double-digit gains through 2014, which will drive demand for a range of abrasives used in automotive manufacturing processes. Abrasives demand in cleaning and maintenance markets will be much slower than in the durable goods sector, although increased government spending will benefit sales. Healthy gains are expected for abrasives in other markets, particularly construction.

Nonmetallic abrasives -- e.g., coated and bonded abrasives, and loose grains and powders -- are forecast to outperform metallic abrasives through 2014. Demand for nonmetallic abrasives will be supported by strong increases in the use of loose abrasive grains, as well as by a continuing shift in the product mix toward higher-value products such as garnet and manufactured diamond.

Coated abrasives will log solid increases, aided by growing use of more costly but better-performing abrasive grains. Demand for metallic abrasives such as steel wool pads will continue to decline through 2014 as a result of heightened competition from nonwoven and other nonmetallic abrasive products, especially in consumer cleaning applications.

Increases in abrasive raw material demand will be led by manufactured minerals, as super abrasives such as manufactured diamond and cubic boron nitride continue to be used extensively based on their hardness and superior performance characteristics. These materials offer increased productivity and improved operating efficiency. Demand for natural minerals used in abrasive applications is expected to post slower gains, limited by competition from better performing manufactured alternatives.

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Veronica Franco

Veronica Franco