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Linear motor sales `will double in four years`

01 March, 2001

Sales of linear motors in Europe and North America are set to double in less than four years, according to a new study. The report*, by the UK-based analyst IMS, suggests that the market has overcome the initial barriers to using the technology and that sales will soar from $82.6m in 1999 to $209.2m by 2004.

This growth will come mainly at the expense of traditional linear motion systems such as ballscrew actuators, IMS says. Users are attracted by linear motors` faster acceleration and deceleration, high speeds and low costs of ownership.

The strong growth is being driven mainly by the semiconductor and electronics industries, says the report`s author, Adrian Lloyd. "More traditional sectors of the industrial market, such as textile and wood processing machinery, have been slower to take up the technology," he adds, although many OEMs are now testing linear motors in prototype machines.

Lloyd warns that the linear motor industry`s heavy reliance on the semiconductor industry makes it particularly vulnerable to the sector`s volatile investment patterns. Last year, capital expenditure by semiconductor manufacturers rose by about 70% and many linear motor suppliers enjoyed their best sales to date. But, cautions Lloyd, "vendors must reduce their exposure to the cyclical nature of the semiconductor industry by developing new supply contracts with traditional industrial sectors".

One promising sector is high-end machine tools where manufacturers are already starting to use linear servo motors. IMS predicts that the number of linear motors used in machine tools will almost double over the coming three years.

* The European and North American Market for Linear Motors. Price £3,200. Details on (44) 01933 402255.

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