H.C. Starck, one of the leading manufacturers of customer-specific powders and components made from technology metals and advanced ceramics, has posted a significant increase in sales for 2017. Sales for the past fiscal year, 2017, rose to 767.3 million euros, an increase of 11 percent over the previous year. This development was driven by the recovery of important core markets and by the successful implementation of a series of initiatives aimed at boosting sales and profitability. As of December 31, 2017, the H.C. Starck Group had about 2,600 employees worldwide.
The first half of FY 2018 saw a positive development in demand in the core markets, a trend H.C. Starck expects to continue in the second half of the year. This forecast is based on several factors, including the highly positive economic development currently taking place in Europe, North America, and Asia, three regions that are important to H.C. Starck.
The strategic further development of the STC Division will continue under the leadership of Swedish metal powder manufacturer Höganäs AB, an ideal strategic partner for the STC business. In addition, the company decided to work with JX Nippon Mining & Metals as a very strong partner for the future development of the Tantalum Niobium Division. “We are delighted to have reached a deal with JX and Höganäs, both of which are buyers that bring with them the industry expertise and experience to lead these two divisions into a successful future,” says Jens Knöll, Managing Director of H.C. Starck GmbH.
Tungsten Powders Division: market recovery and sales initiative bring higher capacity utilization and improved profitability
The Tungsten Division of H.C. Starck posted significantly increased sales and results in 2017 compared with the previous year, along with a noteworthy increase in capacity utilization. This applied in particular to the plant in Goslar, the joint ventures in Vietnam and China, and increasingly to the plant in Sarnia, Canada, as well.
The consistent strategic realignment, which includes programs to boost efficiency and reduce costs and efforts to intensify sales and purchasing initiatives, was instrumental in bringing about this positive development.
It was supported by positive market factors, such as increased demand from the hard metals industry and a favorable market environment for ammonium paratungstate (APT).
In addition, recycling capacity in Goslar and powder production at the joint venture in Ganzhou were both expanded, representing substantial investment projects that were implemented.
Profitable growth in the tantalum/niobium powders business, buoyed by high demand from the electronics industry
During the fiscal year that ended on December 31, 2017, H.C. Starck Tantalum and Niobium GmbH benefited from strong demand for tantalum for sputter targets and capacitor applications. The division thus continued the upward trend that was already clearly being felt back in 2016 during the current reporting period as well while also strengthening its leadership in important market segments.
The development of new products in close cooperation with customers and partners was another important factor in the company’s success. Examples include AMPERTEC, for production of patient-specific implants in additive manufacturing (“3D printing”). The sale of the Ta/Nb Division to JX Nippon Mining and Metals Corporation enabled new development potential (see http://www.nmm.jx-group.co.jp/english/news/2018/20180702e.html).
Surface Technology & Ceramic Powders Division: record sales and growth in additive manufacturing
2017 was a highly successful year for the STC Division as well. Sales rose considerably year over year, with particularly strong growth in the Industrial Applications and Oil & Gas/Welding segments. In August 2017, H.C. Starck presented AMPERPRINT, a series of innovative metal powders for additive manufacturing.
The transition of H.C. Starck Surface Technology and Ceramic Powders GmbH to Sweden-based Höganäs AB will open up new opportunities in strategic further development for the company (see https://www.hoganas.com/en/news-centre/news/2018/hoganas-acquires-surface-coating-division-from-h.c.-starck/).
Fabricated Products: positive turnaround and new structures
The FPR Division stabilized sales in the 2017 fiscal year, in what at times was a tough market environment. Sales in medical technology and for the electronics industry saw positive development, for example in the sputtering targets product segment with applications in semiconductor manufacturing. Significant steps were taken to further strengthen customer focus along a new organizational structure. This made it possible to achieve positive development in business figures in important market segments. With an eye to further improvement, the division is currently hard at work further developing and refining its range of products for applications in fields such as electronics and the aviation industry.
Advanced Ceramic Components on track for growth thanks to sales campaign
For ceramics, the focus for 2017 was on further technological developments that represent the basis for a future-oriented shift in the portfolio toward product applications in the semiconductor industry. These measures brought solid growth and a significantly positive order situation. The new H.C. Starck Ceramics plant hall in Selb, occupying 2,000 m², went into operation in October 2017. Featuring state-of-the-art milling and grinding technology, it is emblematic of the division’s current success. The goal for the years ahead is to strengthen the division’s position as the world market leader in the area of high-precision large-scale components and to consistently optimize and restructure the base business in the area of technical ceramics.