Even among whispers of a downturn in the economy or the “R word,” the gear market looks strong. That's the gist of a new Gears study from The Freedonia Group Inc., Cleveland, an industry research firm. The report forecasts a 3.3% annual increase in U.S. demand for gears, reaching $29.3 billion in 2011, with the most promising growth prospects to come from the aerospace industry. However, gains in aerospace are expected to be offset by slowing demand for gears in the dominant motor vehicle market.

Demand for gear products in aerospace is projected to advance over 5% annually through 2011, to $2.4 billion. This growth represents a recovery from the declines experienced between 2001 and 2006, when aerospace equipment output fell as demand from civil aviation weakened post-911. Particularly strong growth in the production of regional jets and helicopters is expected, which will benefit spiral bevel gears, widely used in helicopters.

The motor vehicle industry is the largest market for gears, accounting for more than 80% of demand. Gear usage in this market is forecast to expand 3.3% annually to nearly $24 billion by 2011. Advances are expected for driveline components such as differentials and transfer cases, with strong demand also predicted in the aftermarket for heavy motor vehicles. Usage in machinery markets is expected to slow, although industrial trucks and tractors, mining equipment, and material handling machinery are forecast to see some gains. Cost of the full 200-page report is $4,400. For more information, call (440) 684-9600 or visit www.freedoniagroup.com.