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Solid wires face keen challenge from flux cored alternatives

That’s the caution from analysts Frost & Sullivan who say that product customisation, expanded product portfolios and widened application scope will be critical to boosting revenues.

The global solid wires market was deeply impacted by the economic crisis in 2009, but staged a recovery in 2010, with compound annual growth rates (CAGR) projected at 9% from 2010 to 2017.

Notable drivers in this growth will include the wider adoption of alloyed solid wires in emerging geographic markets, increasing automation and MIG applications, heightened awareness and the rising preference for solid wires in pipelines industries.

This new analysis from Frost & Sullivan ‘Analysis of the Global Solid Wires Market’, finds that the market earned revenues of $3,083.3 million in 2010 and estimates this to reach $5,631.4 million in 2017.

The highest demand for solid wires is expected to come from the energy and construction industries by 2017. Other end-users covered in this research include aerospace and defence, automotive and transportation, heavy machinery, and ship building, as well as process and other industries.

In 2011, the EMEA region accounted for the most revenues in the global solid wires market. This was due to the higher cost of solid wires across the region, along with the increased adoption of high-performance alloys in solid wires. Eastern Europe, Russia, the Middle East and Africa represent the other growth hotspots for solid wires from the region.

“The Asia–Pacific region is however anticipated to offer the highest growth potential, propelled by large-scale developmental activity in China and India,” notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Ruth Shilpa Sudhakar. “Government investments in energy and construction, coupled with private and foreign direct investments, will combine to propel demand for solid wires.”

A key challenge for the future will be the increasing substitution of solid wires by flux cored wires, particularly in developed regions.

“Flux cored wires are more productive, do not spatter, have in-built shielding flux and provide higher quality welds than solid wires,” explains Sudhakar. “Moreover, prices of solid wires and the currently more expensive flux cored wires are set to even out over the long-term due to the rising price of steel that is used in the former.”

In addition, the large number of MIG applications is expected to increase the consumption of solid wires. At the same time, the lower adoption rates of automated welding processes in MIG applications across Asia-Pacific is set to limit revenue generation.

“The other limiting factor for the overall market is that solid wires cannot be used for external welding purposes and outdoor workshop applications due to wind interference, without the help of an external shielding flux,” adds Sudhakar.

Customising welding solutions, increasing training and awareness programmes among customers, employees and distributors, widening product portfolios and broadening the scope of applications will all support continued market expansion. An expanded global footprint through entry into untapped high potential markets such as Africa will also sustain the growth momentum.

“Manufacturers are also expected to develop high-performance alloys that provide customers with better mechanical properties such as creep resistance, fatigue and temperature resistance,” concludes Sudhakar. “This will support enhanced weld quality, while reducing repair and maintenance costs in the long run.”

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