US set to take the lead in the EDM revolution

The global electric discharge machine tool market is set for strong growth over the next five years, according to market research company Frost & Sullivan. Worldwide sales in 2004 are expected to be £2.5bn (£1.5bn) – over 50% higher than in 1998. European sales growth will be slower than in North America, where EDM sales […]

The global electric discharge machine tool market is set for strong growth over the next five years, according to market research company Frost & Sullivan. Worldwide sales in 2004 are expected to be £2.5bn (£1.5bn) – over 50% higher than in 1998.

European sales growth will be slower than in North America, where EDM sales are catching up after a slower initial take up. Growth on the Pacific rim will also be strong, mainly driven by the appearance of more affordable products. European sales will be driven more by new features such as advanced control technology.

Wire EDM is predicted to move into the lead over the sink type early in the next decade, Frost & Sullivan says. Wire sales will take 52.5% of total revenues by 2004, with growth driven by demand from mould, tool and die shops.

The most recent available market share figures show Mitsubishi Electric in the lead with 25.3% of global sales, just ahead of Charmilles. But adding together sales for Charmilles and Agie, both now part of the Georg Fischer, gives the Swiss group a commanding market share of 33.4%.

UK EDM statistics are harder to come by, but there are signs of a recovery in overall machine tool sales after two years of decline. Turnover rose 3.5% in the third quarter of 1999, according to the Office for National Statistics. But total sales for the year so far are well below the 1998 level.