Cermet saws and tools are being developed by some of the largest saw companies in the world. The word ‘developed’ is very important. They are not testing them. They know they have definite advantages. Now they are developing special saws and tools for special markets.
Companies that are developing and selling cermet saws are taking business away from companies that are not using cermets.
One of our customers shipped several sets of cermet tipped saws to a plant in Texas. The Texas plant had heard from another of their plants just how good cermets are and he wanted to switch from carbide. He was also cautious. When he got the saws he inspected them under a microscope. He saw the honed edge and assumed that they just hadn’t been sharpened enough. We convinced him to try them and he called back saying that the saws worked great.
The Market for Cermet Tools
Cermets and ceramics will largely replace carbide in brazed tools as they have in mechanically held tools.
The market will favour those who develop cermet tools first. Profit margins will be greater for cermets and ceramics. This will erode over time due to competition.
Carbide tipped saws will drop in price since they will no longer be seen as premium items.
This cycle will repeat as other ceramics such as Al2O3 and Si3N4 come into use. These and other ceramics can already be brazed but the market is nowhere near ready for them.
Japanese Strategy to Dominate US Saw and Tool Market
The Japanese strategy to dominate the US saw and tool markets is under way and it is working. Kanefusa seems to be the first. Their TA line of cold steel cutting saws is very successful. They are exploiting and protecting this technology very well. The saws are only being sold as disposable saws and they will not sell just the tips.
Their strategy is clear and simple. For at least the last five years they have been funding major R&D. They have developed superior products and they are driving down their cost of production.
Research and Patents
Kanefusa has 23 patents or patent applications for saw related technology in the last 5 years. In addition they are working with Sumitomo so they are well funded to produce a quality product.
They are putting a lot of money into research and are developing new, superior technologies. They use the results of the research to make better products that dominate the market at much higher profit margins.
If you make a product five times as good then you can charge twice as much for it and you will be able to move a lot of the product. If you are the only one you can set your prices according to what the saw is worth to the consumer without having to worry about your competition.
Cermet tipped saws cost about 30% more to make. They sell for about twice the price of carbide. They cut twice as much in half the time and stay sharp 5 to 10 times as long.
Some saw shops don’t want to sell cermet tipped saws because they last longer. This means the customer buys fewer saws and buys fewer sharpenings.
Bob Budke used to say that part of the reason for his success building Systi Matic was being one of the first to make carbide tipped saws that worked. He did extremely well with the new carbide technology, which made saws that lasted longer. Changing from carbide to cermets is like changing from steel to carbide was 40 years ago. Companies that didn’t get into carbide disappeared. The same will happen with cermets and ceramics.
Cermet saw blades are being used successfully on saws in production operations. Ceramic tipped test saws are opening doors to end-users who were otherwise using a particular carbide tipped make. They are opening their eyes and embracing technology that is helping them to gain a competitive advantage.