This post looks at the megatrend of Aging Society and its potential impacts on our precision machining businesses. It is based on a presentation I attended at HORN Technology Days.

Our future is determined more by societal demands than it is by our workforce and current capability.

External Fixation, Artificial Joints, Human Spare Parts...
External Fixation, Artificial Joints, Human Spare Parts…

Why Aging Society is my choice for most impactful megatrend for our industry

  • Annual worldwide growth trend of 5% increase in Medical Technology Developments is  2X -3X current GDP growth. (Economically compelling)
  • Who is against improving the quality of life of the people we love? (Emotionally compelling)
  • Growth in the sector of Endoprosthetics- Human Spare Parts. (Aging and active population makes this compelling)

Because of this megatrend, our industry can expect to see growing opportunities in the production of

  • Surgical tools and instruments
  • Human spare parts and hardware (Bone screws, implants (including dental), joints, and hardware)
  • More challenging materials to process – ceramics, titanium, magnesium, and composites.

What will the keys be to growing in participation in this field in the future?

  • Flexibility and speed of processes and capacity
  • Systems built on assuring quality
  • Taking advantage of  cost effective technologies to build in process assurance, and cost effective minimum waste provision of parts. 

Over the long run, our businesses seldom grow faster than GDP. Knowing that the impacts of our aging society will grow faster than GDP provides a roadmap for savvy managements to plot their course to use their companies to serve this growing market.

You can see the aging of society every day – at work, shopping, and even in our schools (universities).

What are you doing to meet the demands that this megatrend is creating for your precision machining business?

Horn is working on developing tooling technologies and processes to improve your capability and performance, improve cost effectiveness and innovate your production.

New technologies call for - new tooling technologies. Thread Whirling Head for Bone Screws.
New technologies call for – new tooling technologies. Thread Whirling Head for Bone Screws by HORN.

What are you doing to take advantage of this  growing 2X-3X  faster than GDP opportunity?

HornUSA- Tools for Medical Technology

The US, EU and Mexico have just  (2 hours ago) jointly made a formal request to the WTO for a dispute-settlement panel to address China’s export restraints on a number of  raw materials  of interest to our precision machining industry.  Bloomberg coverage here.
Raw materials such as

  • coke ( used in steel), 
  • zinc (used in brass),
  •  bauxite (aluminum ore),
  •  fluorspar (steelmaking slag conditioner),
  • magnesium,
  • manganese (steelmaking ingredient),
  • silicon metal (steelmaking deoxidizer),
  • silicon carbide (desulfurizer)

 These are among the materials listed in the filing. These are important (essential!)  ingredients into the steel and metallic raw materials our industry consumes. We remember reading about this as an emerging concern in June in the Globe and Mail.

How they load steel in Hubei, China.

 The economic issue is that this “resource hoarding” results in artificially lowered cost for these raw materials in China  and in effect becomes a subsidy for those  manufacturing operations that China deems “strategic.”  While at the same time making these materials more difficult (and Expensive) to obtain for non Chinese companies.
Peace” according to Ambrose Bierce, in The Devil’s Dictionary, “in international affairs is a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.”  I think that this is a particularly useful perspective in this situation.
Diplomacy,” according to my 8th grade History teacher, Mrs. Abernathy, “is war by other means.”
Our industry, the EU, Mexico, and the United States- all of us  are certainly looking forward to some diplomatic success. 
The panel is expected to be convened Nov. 19th.
We all live here together. Why not trade fairly?

Steel loading Photo via  Globe and Mail originally Shanghai Reuters.
Earth photo credit: NASA.