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Material testing market bounces back

By: Peter Field
02 April, 2012

The sector is much healthier, but heavyweight vendor dominance restricts opportunities for smaller companies.

The downturn that hit the world’s economy in 2009 hit the material testing market’s revenues causing the major players to incur big losses. But, according to analyst Frost & Sullivan, the sector is currently undergoing a period of recovery and stabilisation driven by increased demand from traditional end-user industries.

Frost & Sullivan’s analysis of the material testing equipment market reveals revenues of US$495.6 million ($471.1 million) in 2010 rising to US$591.1million ($561.9 million) by 2015.

While much of the increase in revenues is due to traditional large end-user sectors, novel applications in the fields of biomedical, composites, medical devices and nanotechnology are expected to boost the market in future years.

"2009 was one of the most difficult periods for the material testing market," Vijay Mathew, a program manager with Frost & Sullivan, explained.

"However, demand from traditionally strong users of material testing equipment such as automotive, aerospace, primary metals and plastics have helped the industry bounce back

But Mathew notes that all is not well on the supply side. He said that while new opportunities were emerging, a key challenge remaining was the presence of large established participants in the market. This dominance limited the business opportunities for smaller companies.

"The material testing market comprises a range of competitors of varying size and reach," Mathew said.

"The top three market participants occupy a significant amount of market and mind share and drive critical parameters that define this market, such as price points and regulatory and standardisation trends, making it difficult for emerging participants to gain a foothold."

However, Mathew advised that the challenge could be overcome by focusing on emerging opportunities from geographical, technological, and application perspectives.

"With the emergence of new application markets and technology areas, niche opportunities do exist," Mathew said.

"Also, certain customers located in certain geographies prefer working with local test equipment vendors rather than multinational organisations."

Australia is well served by equipment vendors for such niche material test applications. NDT Equipment Sales, a Taren Point, NSW-based company, for example, is able to supply test equipment for applications ranging from hardness testers to residual stress analysis, and x-Ray and gamma ray inspection to composite inspection.

For its part, Technical & Scientific Equipment of Dingley, Victoria, offers equipment for stretch wrap film and other food & beverage package testing. 

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