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The industry’s real turnaround began during the last quarter of 2009, when customer inventories were at their lowest point and the pipeline needed refilling. This situation signaled a firming of demand for metal powders and PM parts. A clear indicator of rising production levels was the hiring spurt seen at many PM parts fabricator plants.
Based on the first quarter of 2011, PM industry executives remain optimistic about the business outlook, Lutheran said. Iron powder shipments increased 9.1% in the first quarter, with the PM parts/friction materials sector up 10.1%. Stainless steel powder shipments remain robust, and copper powder shipments are positive as well.
According to discussions with leading PM parts makers, business in the first half of 2011 looks very favorable. First quarter sales reports show increases of 10-35%, with strong back orders. While many companies have rehired previously furloughed production workers, they are still running with leaner workforces than before.
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