Free machining steel is high carbon steel that have sulfur, lead, bismuth, selenium, tellurium, or phosphorous added. Sulfur forms the compound manganese sulfide, which is soft and acts as a chip-breaking discontinuity. It also acts as a dry lubricants to prevent a built up edge on cutting tool. These steels are soft, malleable, ductile and magnetic in nature.
The global free machining steel market is estimated to surpass 8,353.2 KT by the end of 2030 in terms of volume, exhibiting a CAGR of 2.1% during the forecast period (2022 to 2030).
One of the key factors expected to stimulate market growth during the forecast period is the multiple applications of free machining steel in electronics industry. Free machining steel is widely used in the electronics industry for the manufacturing of various products such as electrical wires, control panels, switchgears, engine parts for automotive, ships, and planes. Free machining steel is used for manufacturing of industrial control panels. Industrial control panels are used in various end use applications such as operation of motors and drives, security systems, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, production, assembly and conveyance.
Another factor which is driving the market for the free machining steel is the growing demand for the anti-lock braking system (ABS) in the automotive industry. Anti-lock braking system (ABS) is an advanced active braking system used in automobiles, which helps drivers to control their vehicles. Anti-lock braking systems improves vehicle control and reduces the chances of collision on both dry and slippery surfaces. The growth in the demand for safety features, technological advancements in automotive industry, and increase in government mandates for vehicle safety drive the growth of the anti-lock braking system market and it enhanced the demand for the free machining steel.
Among regions, Asia Pacific held dominant position in the global free machining steel market in 2021, accounting for 64.3% market share in terms of volume, followed by North America and Europe. The growth of the electronics industry in this Asia Pacific region is driving the growth of the free machining steel market in this region. For instance, according to India Brand Equity Foundation report in June 2022, India has grown its domestic electronics production from US$ 29 billion in financial year 2014-15 to US$ 67 billion in 2020-21. The electronics sector of India contributes around 3.4% of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The growing demand for the free machining steel for the production of the electronics is benefiting the growth of the market in this region.
Figure 1. Global Free Machining Steel Market Revenue Share (%), By Region, 2021
Free-machining steels with sulphur and phosphorus have relatively poor weldability because cracks can form during the final stages of weld solidification. The cracks arise from the presence of liquid magnesium sulphate and phosphorous compounds at the weld metal grain boundaries which is restraining the global free machining steel market. Moreover, the high ductility of the free machining steel leads to reduction of the impact resistance which is a restraint for the global free-machining steel market.
|Base Year:||2021||Market Size in 2021:||6,914.6 KT|
|Historical Data for:||2017 to 2020||Forecast Period:||2022 to 2030|
|Forecast Period 2022 to 2030 CAGR:||2.1%||2030 Value Projection:||8,353.2 KT|
Daido Steel, Hitachi Metals, Saarstahl AG, Akiyama Seiko, China BaoWu Steel Group Corporation Limited, Valin Group, Shougang Group, Kobe Steel, HBIS Group, Huaigang Special Steel, JFE Steel Corporation, POSCO
|Restraints & Challenges:||
Free machining steel are used in the manufacturing of household appliances such as stoves, refrigerators, washing machines and dishwashers. Free machining steel comes with various properties such as high strength, ease of manufacturing and low environment effects which are important for the manufacturing of the household appliances. Austenitic stainless steels are generally difficult to use, and this has led to the development of the free-machining Grade 303. The chromium, nickel, and sulphur contents of Type 303 are slightly different than that of Type 304, but its physical and mechanical properties are quite similar. Additionally, steel has a rather high strength to weight ratio compared to other types of metals, which enables the manufacturing of small yet strong steel parts for the household appliances.
Figure 2. Global Free Machining Steel Market Revenue Share (%), By Application, 2021
On the basis of Applications, in 2021, lathe processing segment held largest volume share of 54.2% in global free machining steel market.
Global Free Machining Steel Market - Impact of Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic
Slowdown of the electronics and automobile industry in the covid-19 pandemic affected the global free machining steel market. The outbreak of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has acted as a massive restraint on the electronic products manufacturing market in 2020 as supply chains were disrupted due to trade restrictions and consumption declined due to lockdowns imposed by government’s globally.COVID-19 is an infectious disease with flu-like symptoms including fever, cough, and difficulty in breathing. However, electronics industry is regaining its market strength due to the increasing demand of the electronics industry which will further help to grow the free machining steel market.
Key players operating in the global free machining steel market include Daido Steel, Hitachi Metals, Saarstahl AG, Akiyama Seiko, China BaoWu Steel Group Corporation Limited, Valin Group, Shougang Group, Kobe Steel, HBIS Group, Huaigang Special Steel, JFE Steel Corporation, POSCO.