The global aluminum welding market is majorly driven by the growing demand for aluminum products in automotive and construction industries. Properties of these products such as lightweight, high strength, resistant to corrosion, and recyclability make them suitable in various body parts of a car, resulting in a reduction of fuel consumption.
The demand for lightweight vehicles is anticipated to increase owing to rising concerns on environmental pollution caused by high fuel consumption. According to the Department of Energy, approximately 10% reduction of vehicle weight reduces 6-8 % of fuel consumption, which in turn reduces 5-6% of emission volume. This is likely to increase the demand for aluminum welding as it provides a strong base, durability, and less heat input & distortion.
Aluminum is the most used metal after steel in buildings and is used along with brick, steel, and cement in construction materials. Aluminum wall cladding systems used for building exteriors with large wall panels require welded joints, results in time-efficient installation. The growth in the global construction industry is likely to drive aluminum welding market growth over the coming years.
There are three key factors to be considered in the aluminum welding process that are welding equipment, filler material, and consumables. The aluminum welding has few challenges such as it has high thermal conductivity, low melting point, and porosity. In the welding process, the cool areas of the base metal try to pull heat away from the welding area causing a lack of penetration in the weld. Thus, aluminum requires much higher heat inputs than steel during welding.
Various techniques are used in aluminum welding such as arc welding, gas metal-arc (MIG) welding, gas tungsten-arc (TIG) welding, torch welding, laser beam welding, electron beam welding, and resistance welding. TIG is largely used as it does not require mechanical wire feeding that causes feedability issues. It uses alternate current control keeping the aluminum work piece from overheating as it requires a lot of heat during the welding process. TIG is suitable for both thin aluminum sheets and thick aluminum plates.
MIG is another technique that is widely used in aluminum welding. It exhibits higher deposition rates and faster travel speeds than TIG. However, MIG uses a mechanical wire feeding system due to which a push-pull gun or spool gun is used for aluminum wire feeding. It is suitable for thin aluminum sheets.
On the basis of application, the aluminum welding market is segmented into automotive, construction, shipbuilding, and others. Automotive was the largest segment in 2018 owing to the increasing demand for lightweight and electric vehicles. According to the International Energy Agency, global electric car sales are anticipated to reach 23 million by 2023 from 5.1 million in 2018. This is likely to augment the market growth over the coming years.
Stringent government regulations on the environmental pollution and favorable government schemes in the emerging economies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions released from the automotive and construction industries are expected to increase the demand for aluminum, which in turn is anticipated to augment the aluminum welding market growth over the coming years. In 2018, the Karnataka government proposed a green building incentive policy to promote the growth of green buildings in India. The policy includes a reduction in property tax and stamp duty on the land for these buildings.
In the shipbuilding industry, the superstructure and the pilothouse are constructed entirely of aluminum. The increasing economic growth and global seaborne trade are anticipated to boost the demand for aluminum welding over the coming years. In 2019, Laser Zentrum Hannover e. V., a research institute in Germany, along with 9 partners were involved in a research project named laser beam welding of steel to aluminum for use in shipbuilding. In this project, they developed a laser welding process for thick mixed joints that are used in shipbuilding to reduce fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions in the shipping industry.
The Asia Pacific is the largest producer and consumer of aluminum welding owing to the increasing use of aluminum products in end-use industries such as automotive and construction, especially in India and China. Major industries are expanding their manufacturing hubs in these countries owing to cheap labor costs and to meet the growing demand for their products. Moreover, government initiatives such as “House for All” and “Make in India” by the Indian government to enhance the manufacturing sector in the country is anticipated to increase the demand for aluminum welding in the country.
The growing construction industry in Japan is anticipated to augment market growth over the coming years. The country is largely focusing on innovative transportation networks and systems such as road connectivity and infrastructure development projects to reduce travel time and improve efficiency. The aforementioned programs in emerging economies are likely to drive the demand for aluminum welding in the region.
The aluminum welding market growth in North America is projected to grow at a rapid pace owing to infrastructure developments in the region. The region is dominated by the U.S. due to increasing investment in the construction industry. In 2018, the U.S. Department of Transportation committed to invest at least USD 1.5 trillion in the new infrastructure to improve rural American transportation.
The key players of the aluminum welding market include Lincoln electric Company, ESAB, Hilarius Haarlem Holland B.V., Air Liquide, Novametal Group, Voestalpine, EWM Hightech, and Bohler. In addition to these companies, automakers such as General Motors and Honda Motor Co. are developing new techniques to reduce the weight of rivets from aluminum body parts, such as hoods, lift gates and doors.
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