Tool Steel Industry

Tool steel market to accrue remarkable proceeds from injection molding applications, global industry remuneration to cross USD 6.5 billion by 2024

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Owing to the augmented demand for forging and cutting instruments worldwide, the overall tool steel market has witnessed notable growth in recent years from the aerospace, automotive, energy and food & packaging segments. Properties like wear resistance, higher thermal conductivity and cost-effective production have considerably influenced the product usage rate. Increasing consumption of packaged food products and automobiles has encouraged manufacturers to undertake expansion activities, further boosting the tool steel market revenues. Prominent applications of the products including injection molding and die work are expected to provide remarkable thrust to the development of the tool steel industry.

U.S. Tool Steel Market Size, By Product class, 2017 & 2024, (Kilo Tons)

U.S. Tool Steel Market Size, By Product class, 2017 & 2024, (Kilo Tons)

Technically, injection molding is a method used to produce a broad range of items, from high precision components to disposable consumer goods and food packaging. As the world has seen a consistent rise in the sale of food products due to the growing population and an upsurge in disposable incomes, manufacturers of packaging have become lucrative customers for the tool steel market. Reports show that in 2016, an estimated US$2.47 trillion worth of packaged food had been sold globally, with the number projected to reach US$2.64 trillion in 2019. This affirms a positive outlook for the food and packaging segment and huge consumption prospects for the tool steel industry.

Expounding on the opportunities for the food and packaging industry, North America is anticipated to record nearly 23% increase in food consumption by 2024. On the other hand, countries like China, India and Italy will show a varied increase in food intake over the forecast timespan, ranging from 10% increase for Italy to a massive 89% for India. As evident, the tool steel industry could experience an enormous adoption rate with the swelling packaged food demand. Packaging made using injection molding technique can be used for processed food, salad & fruits, cheese and other such products that are sold in clear, custom colored and freezable grade food containers.

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Constant demand for such products will supplement the proliferation of the packaging industry, eventually driving the tool steel market growth. For instance, the cheese market was estimated to be valued at US$95.2 billion worldwide in 2016 and the OECD-FAO has forecast that global cheese consumption will have grown by more than 17% by 2024. Similar rise in the consumption of other processed food products will warrant an increase in the deployment of injection molding for food packaging over the coming years. Traditionally, plastic has been used for injection molded containers but rising environmental concerns associated with plastic waste have hampered the industry popularity to some extent.

However, innovations pertaining to packaging materials have gradually reinforced the position of injection molded food containers and subsequently the tool steel industry, as the development of bioplastics have attracted food companies who were moving away from using plastic. Citing an example, Green Dot’s biodegradable resins offer an eco-friendly alternative to be used in injection molding for producing disposable packaging containers. The material can apparently be formed, processed and customized according to the product requirements, besides helping to maintain their physical integrity.

The UN has said that almost 22% to 43% of plastic produced ends up in landfills. Biodegradable materials can help lower these hazards and further promote the use of injection molded containers, the production of which could significantly benefit the global tool steel market. Essentially, bioplastics could also be crucial for producing components of consumer durables through the injection molding process, in addition to developing key automotive parts in the future. With a number of component manufacturers upgrading their capacities to keep up with rising demand, injection molding will remain a key application area for tool steel products.

In a nutshell, the expanding food and packaging segment along with the ceaseless demand for durable consumer goods and automobiles are expected to push the global tool steel market valuation above US$6.5 billion by 2024. The industry is comprised of key suppliers including Baosteel Group, BOHLER, Buderus Edelstahl GmbH, Hitachi Metals, Ltd., Dongbei Special Steel Group Co., Ltd, Sandvik and Voestalpine.

Author NamePankaj Singh