The Future of Ultra-Hard Material Cutting
Ian Wright posted on January 03, 2017 | 2028 views
(Image courtesy of PTM Technology Workshop.)
(Image courtesy of PTM Technology Workshop.)
The start of a new year inevitably prompts speculation about the future. Given the global bombshells of 2016—from Brexit to Trump’s electoral victory—one can’t help but wonder what 2017 has in store for manufacturing.

Of course, many organizations are looking even further ahead into the next decade. For example, a recent report by Transparency Market Research (TMR) predicts that the ultra-hard material cutting machine market will be worth USD $1.81 billion by 2024. The global ultra-hard material cutting machine market primarily encompasses electrical discharge machines (EDM) and laser cutting machines.

The market was valued at $730 million in 2015, meaning that it is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 10.8 percent from 2016 to 2024. In terms of volume, the market is expected to reach 6,661 units by the end of 2024.

The report also identifies the three key players in this global market: Machinery Systems, Inc., DMG MORI, and GF Machining Solutions, with a collective market share of 44.3 percent of total market value. Consequently, according to the report, the market is currently lacking in the level of competitiveness necessary to reduce the sale price of these cutting machines.

Over time, the rivalry between all players is expected to intensify, allowing for a greater scope of competitive pricing that will favor a greater rate of demand. The threat from new entrants, however, is expected to remain fairly low over the coming years, owing to the steep capital investment required for a company to establish itself in the global ultra-hard material cutting machines market.

GF Machining Solutions AgieCharmilles Die Sink EDM. (Image courtesy of Machine Tool Systems.)
GF Machining Solutions AgieCharmilles Die Sink EDM. (Image courtesy of Machine Tool Systems.)
“The global ultra-hard material cutting machines market is primarily driven by the growing demand for semiconductor substrates built from synthetic diamonds,” explained a TMR analyst. “The niche physical properties of synthetic diamonds can impart better transform thermal management, thereby allowing semiconductor design engineers to evolve from the conventional difficulties of power-density and reliability issues in the creation of smaller footprints.”

Beyond this application, the report also highlights the fact that use of ultra-hard material cutting machines is expanding throughout other industries, including mining, defense, semiconductors and electronics. The report’s authors speculate that fiber laser technology may be driving this expansion, since that technology is roughly 30 times faster than EDM. Falling prices resulting from product development and competition should further increase fiber laser adoption.

In addition to these predictions, the TMR report also discusses the two biggest barriers to market expansion: the total costs of making each unit, and the complexities involved in using them. Manufacturing high-resolution ultra-hard material cutting machines is much more expensive compared to conventional cutting systems, which places significant strain on medium-sized and smaller players in the market, in terms of both materials used and design adopted.

"Players in the global ultra-hard material cutting machines market, especially from developing regions, should not essentially be disheartened by the cost of manufacturing these machines,” the TMR analyst added. “It is only a matter of time that the industries from Asia Pacific and Latin America will be able to apply ultra-hard material cutting machines on a larger scale, thereby creating a much higher demand for them over time. This is what a lot of key players in the global ultra-hard material cutting machines market are currently interested in tapping."

The full report is available on the TMR website.

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