The trend has affected the direct-drive market, says U.K. research firm IMS Research. It is one reason the global market for linear-motor (LM) systems was almost double that of LM components, says IMS. The firm predicts a continued shift to preassembled systems with linear-motor systems growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.0% compared with 8.5% for linearmotor components.

EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) is the dominant region for LM components, accounting for half of global sales. But it comprises less than a fifth of the total systems market. Asia Pacific, the largest region by far for systems, is expected to show the most growth.

One reason the two areas will grow at different rates is the make-up of their industries. EMEA is the largest market for machine tools, while the flatpanel display and semiconductor-machinery markets dominate the Asia-Pacific region.

IMS also found different industries preferred different architectures for linear motors. In machine tools, for example, engineers prefer to develop their own systems and just purchase components. Linear motors are considered key components in these systems. The flip side is seen within flatpanel displays or semiconductor machinery where the linearmotion component is only ancillary. These industries typically prefer preassembled systems and don't think inhouse assembly of subsystems worth the effort.