There’s no better time than the dog days of summer to explore the market outlook for advanced ceramics. Long known for their high temperature resistance, ceramics also offer compelling attributes like corrosion resistance and chemical durability, making them a hot (pun intended!) market commodity. In fact, according to Grandview Research, the global ceramics market is projected to reach $287.06 billion by 2022. The major market segment for these materials is bioceramics, where dental uses and medical implants account for two-thirds of the total dollar value. Other prominent uses include military and advanced armor applications, however these markets are cooling off due to policy shifts and lower expected military expenditures.
In North America, BCC Research predicts the market for technical and advanced ceramics will continue to grow and reach $6.7 billion by 2020. Driving this growth is the wind energy sector, where the need for wear-resistant parts (including ceramic bearings) has bolstered the market. Additional industries taking advantage of the versatility of ceramics include oil and gas (bearings, sand filters, pumps, and valve housings), alternative energy (fuel cells, electrodes, and electrolytes), and construction. Alumina-based materials are also having a moment, according to BCC Research analyst Andrew McWilliams. “Alumina-based ceramics are commonly used in tool inserts, wear-resistant components and energy and high-temperature-resistant components in which ceramic components are used in solid oxide fuel cells to convert a feed of natural gas into electricity,” says McWilliams.
Medical implant devices also offer exciting new opportunities for materials development. Since the late 1990s, ceramic materials have been used more and more for implant devices due to their strength, resilience, and bio-inert properties. Zirconia, a ceramic that does not corrode, is now being widely used in the medical community. It is displacing alumina as the material of choice for implants as it offers design improvements over traditional oxides. Additionally, developments in ceramic coatings for drug delivery are thrilling the pharmaceutical community.
Looking ahead to the next five years, there are several major companies poised to drive growth in the advanced ceramics industry. CoorsTek, Ceramtec, 3M / Ceradyne, Bloom Energy, and Momentive all have extensive product and application portfolios. Many of these companies also have product platforms that span a number of value-added industries, proving that the advanced ceramics market shows no sign of cooling down in the years to come.
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