Steel abrasives are particles of steel with high carbon content that are utilized as abrasive and peening media. Steel abrasives are available in two types based on their shape; shots and grits. Steel shots are spherical grains of molten steel produced through a granulation (atomization) process in requisite sizes or hardness. Whereas, steel grits are crushed steel shots with angular shapes and more hardness. Steel abrasives are made of high carbon steel composition for more hardness and durability. The important characteristic features for steel abrasives include hardness, grain size, shape, toughness and purity in terms of absence of oxides and other contaminants. A significant advantage of employing steel abrasives is their recyclability to about 2000 cycles, which causes less waste when compared to other expendable abrasives.
The expanding automotive industry is expected to drive the steel abrasives market globally. Most of the demand is generated from the developing markets of emerging economies owing to rapid industrialization and the rising purchase power parity of the population of these economies. Some of the major economies with high growth potential for the market include China, India, Brazil, Russia and South America. However, the development of better casting technologies, especially in the developed markets of North America and Europe, is expected to hamper the demand growth for steel abrasives.
The steel abrasives market can be classified based on its applications, into four end-user segments such as automotive & transportation, construction, equipment goods and others including energy, machine and tools, etc. Automotive & transportation is estimated to be the largest market segment currently. Environment friendly nature of steel abrasives in terms of low waste generation and more recyclability is a driving factor for its adoption over a wide range of other expendable abrasives with similar functionality. However, advanced technological casting and manufacturing process is a threat for steel abrasives demand, especially in the developed markets of North America and Europe. Recovering construction activities in the North American and European regions is also expected to support the market demand growth after the slowdown between 2009 and 2011.
Asia Pacific is expected to be the largest market owing to the fast growing industrial applications. The market has been witnessing major growth trends in China, India and other South East Asian countries. This growth can be attributed to the expenditure on infrastructure development and the high growth rate of end-use markets of steel abrasives in these countries. Additionally, Asia Pacific is expected to be the fastest growing region owing to rapidly expanding automotive and transportation markets in this region. In the Rest of the World (RoW) region, countries such as Brazil, Argentina, and South Africa, among others are expected to show higher market growth due to the favorable conditions creating higher demand for these abrasives. This trend is expected to continue over the forecast period between 2013 and 2019. The mature markets of Europe and North America are expected to grow slow as compared to Asia Pacific and RoW. However, with present changes in the economic activities in the regions the market is showing positive growth and is expected to climb higher over the forecast period between 2013 and 2019.
The market is dominated by few global organized players. Some of the key players in the steel abrasives market include Abrasive Technology Incorporated, Cabot Microelectronics Corporation, Fairmount Minerals Limited and Winoa, among others.
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