Machinery production slows: Stepper sales boosted by medical, commercial markets
Following two historic growth years, the market for stepper systems is expected to feel the cooling trend observed in machinery production output, with stepper systems sales forecast to slow from 4.3% growth in 2012 to 3.8% in 2013 according to IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc. Bucking this trend, stepper sales to the medical equipment and commercial markets are gaining momentum with 2013 expectations set to outpace current performance.
Industrial machinery represents the largest user of stepper systems, accounting for nearly 70% of stepper sales in 2011. Thus the steppers market is closely tied to machinery production output, which rebounded strongly after the recession. While machinery production grew 16.7% in 2010 and 12.4% 2011, the economic crisis in Europe and China’s cooling economy is slowing industrial output, and growth in this stepper systems market is forecast at 3.5% in 2013.
Growth in the medical equipment and commercial markets will help to buoy the stepper systems market as machinery cools. Although the stronger growth of steppers in medical equipment forecast at 6% for 2012 is expected to continue in 2013, this market only represents 16% of the total steppers market in 2011.
The even smaller commercial steppers market will benefit from the increased adoption and upgrading of security equipment in banking, city surveillance and traffic monitoring. Stepper system sales to the security sector are picking up steam, with forecasted growth of 3.3% in 2012 followed by 3.5% in 2013.
IMS Research Analyst Michelle Figgs explained, “Stepper systems are sold into a variety of applications and the forecasted market growth reflects this. As machinery production slows with the worldwide economy, the steppers market will be negatively impacted, but this will be partially offset by the strength of the medical equipment and commercial markets. Therefore the total stepper market is forecast to slow, but to a lesser extent than machinery production output.”