Like other sectors, the motion control product market has been impacted by the economic downturn over the past nine months, according to a recent report by market research firm IMS Research. The sector saw the double-digit growth of the past few years slow significantly the second half of 2008 and first few months of 2009.

The report sees a mixed near-term outlook. It expects motion control product revenue to fall 20% in the semiconductor, robotics, and electronics industries, and 15% in traditional machinery industries for paper, printing, textiles, and woodworking. But not all the news is bad. Motion control product sales in consumer-related sectors such as packaging, material handling, and rubber and plastics is expected to fall a modest 5 to 10%, while sales will actually increase slightly in the food, beverage and tobacco, medical and scientific, and military and renewable energy sectors.

According to IMS Research senior analyst Alex Chausovsky, “Growing populations and continued urbanization around the world are expected to increase demand for processed foods and beverages, thereby supporting OEMs active in the sector. Furthermore, aging populations in regions like the U.S., Japan, China, and Western Europe will offer plenty of growth opportunities for motion suppliers to the medical and scientific sectors.”

The biomedical arena has seen a steady uptick in the use of motion control devices to regulate the movement and positioning of X-ray tables, laboratory dispensing apparatus, and other equipment. Such advances are improving medical and laboratory system performance and helping to provide a better patient experience.

NASA Tech Briefs magazine will examine some of these advances in our June Motion Control Technology   supplement, which will focus on biomedical applications. If you have a story about a motion control product or system helping to advance a medical application, please share it with us by e-mailing me .