IMS Research, www.imsresearch.com

Worldwide sales of stepper motors continued a low, single-digit growth rate through 2008, pushing revenues for stepper motors to $987.1 million. Key industry sectors for steppers were the medical and scientific, and food, beverage, and tobacco areas, according to analysts at IMS Research, Austin, Tex. But the global recession has hurt revenues in the last half of 2008 and the first half of 2009, with experts predicting an overall 3.9% drop in revenues for 2009.

Western Europe has become the largest regional market, thanks to the many machine builders based there. That region now accounts for one-third of all stepper revenues. But even that market will suffer this year as it sees revenues drop an estimated 2%. America and Japanese markets, which if combined, would represent the largest steppermotor market, will see revenues decrease 4.2% and 6.7%, respectively.

Overall, growth in the medical and scientific, food, beverage, and tobacco, and renewable energy sectors should help offset declines in the semiconductor, printing, and electronics industries. IMS expects growth to return in 2010 but says conditions could depend on government “stimulus” packages.

IMS also surveyed Chinese firms that purchase motor drives. Three out of the five most popular drive brands in the survey were from European manufacturers; ABB, Siemens, and Schneider. They accounted for 45% of all responses. Mitsubishi and Fuji, both of Japan, rounded out the top five with a combined 15% of the market. The remaining 40% of the market was divided among between 22 companies. The survey also revealed that respondents tended to think of Asian drive makers as turning out less-expensive drives, while European firms were thought of as industry experts offering premium quality goods.