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Brushless DC market `growing twice as fast as brushed`

17 April, 2008

Although the market for small brushed DC motors is still much larger than for brushless machines, the global brushless market will expand at twice the rate of the brushed business over the next few years, according to a new forecast from the analyst, IMS Research.

For years, IMS points out, manufacturers of brushless DC motors have promoted the advantages of their products – such as high performance, low maintenance requirements, quiet operation and long lifetimes. But the relatively high cost of these machines has meant that they have been viewed as premium products and sales have not been as high as some had expected.

In 2007, the global brushless DC market was worth around $490m, according to IMS, compared to $6.7bn for the brushed machine market. Most of the growth in the brushless business is coming from replacing brushed motors.

Some industries, such as medical and industrial automation, have readily accepted the higher cost of the brushless designs in exchange for the performance benefits. However, in many other applications, the higher prices remain prohibitive, IMS reports. This is most evident in cost-competitive markets such as domestic appliances and power tools, and also in the largest user of small motors – the automotive sector. Although some applications in these sectors are now starting to use brushless products, these markets remain largely untapped.

Despite this, there is the potential for a cascade effect that could result in more applications switching to brushless products, IMS suggests. Specifically, if a particular application requiring large volumes of brushed DC motors was to switch to brushless DC motors, this could result in lower-cost brushless machines through economies of scale. This would, in turn, create opportunities in a wider range of markets.

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