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Linear motor sales `will quadruple` by 2008

01 November, 2002

Linear motor sales `will quadruple` by 2008

The number of linear motors sold in Europe is likely to quadruple by 2008, according to a new forecast. This growth will be driven, in part, by falling prices, which means that while the number of motors sold could grow from 33,300 last year to 125,500 by 2008, the revenues will merely double from $57m to $125m.

In the new survey* of the linear motors market, the analyst Frost & Sullivan describes the sector as "the most dynamic in the motion control industry". The rapid growth will be stimulated by several factors including the increasing need for high speed and precision in many motion applications, growing user awareness of linear motors, and the reliability of the technology.

"Superior acceleration and control attributes, in particular, are expected to drive a substantial need for high-specification devices," says Frost & Sullivan industry analyst, Sean French. "Other promising technological advances, such as the emergence of tubular motors, are expected to widen the application base, and drive demand."

Although linear motors are seen as being more reliable and requiring less maintenance than mechanical alternatives, sales so far have been dampened by the high costs of the technology in a price-sensitive market. However, Frost & Sullivan predicts that prices will fall as competition intensifies, the technology matures and sales volumes expand.

It says that high levels of investment in the sector, as large organisations have bought and invested in small linear motor manufacturers, are helping to convert the motors from a niche technology to a mainstream product.

The low level of customer awareness of linear motors to date, has been "a major challenge" to potential market expansion. "However, the advancing state of linear motors in a wide range of applications has raised their profile over the last few years," says French. "Moreover, positive feedback from new end-users has enhanced the reputation of linear motors, thereby encouraging the prospect of strong future sales".

Until now, the main users of linear motors have been in the semiconductor and electronics sectors, but Frost & Sullivan expects machine tools applications to take the lead by 2008, accounting for 24% of sales. It also predicts growing demand for applications in the medical and military sectors, and for theme park rides.

At present, Siemens leads the European market with its specialist linear motor division producing equipment mainly for the machine tools sector. According to Frost & Sullivan`s figures, it is followed by Baldor, Aerotech, Etel and Bosch Rexroth.

* The European market for linear motors (Report B129). Price €4,000.

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