The U.S. market for gaskets and seals is expected to expand 2.7 percent per year (including price increases) to $8.8 billion through 2012, roughly in line with sales performance during the 2002-2007 period, according to a study by the Freedonia Group (www.freedoniagroup.com). The study, titled Gaskets & Seals, says suppliers will benefit from a rebound in motor vehicle production, as well as from solid increases in machinery production and capital spending. Rising demand for more expensive sealing products made from advanced materials is also expected to support gasket and seal demand growth. Freedonia acknowledges, however, that increased use of better performing products will have a mixed effect over time, as initial value gains will be offset by longer useful lives, decreasing aftermarket sales.



Expanded graphite gaskets, plastic gaskets and body seals will post the most rapid sales increases among individual products, according to Freedonia. Expanded graphite and plastic gaskets will continue to supplant more traditional gasketing material because of their better performance characteristics, and both product types figure to benefit from an improved motor vehicle industry outlook. Body seal demand will also be spurred by a rebound in motor vehicle production, as well as by healthy increases in the production of aerospace equipment and construction machinery.

The aerospace market for gaskets and seals is forecast to grow the fastest of any major market through 2012. Growth will be driven by increased spending on military aircraft due to the ongoing war on terror and by rising civil aircraft production levels. Due to their much larger size, the motor vehicle and machinery markets are forecast to provide better sales opportunities for gasket and seal makers than the faster growing aerospace equipment market. Increases in motor vehicle production, as well as in the number of motor vehicles in use, will support associated gasket and seal sales. A move toward the use of higher-end sealing products in the motor vehicle market will also contribute to future value gains. Continued growth in capital spending and a large aftermarket created by harsh operating environments is expected to bolster machinery gasket and seal demand.