Growth Prediction Lowered for U.S. Advanced Ceramics Industry

With the recent downturn in the economy, the growth rate for advanced ceramics in the next five years is expected to be about 5.7% per year.

Photo courtesy of CoorsTek, Golden, Colo.

Table 1. U.S. markets for advanced ceramic components, 200-2005 ($ millions).
Advanced ceramics have been growing steadily in the later part of 1990s and to the turn of the century at an overall growth rate of 8.0% per year. However, with the recent downturn in the economy, the growth rate in the next five years is expected to be about 5.7% per year. Electronic ceramics still constitute a major segment with a matured market, and some of its segments are still growing very strongly. Even with the economic downturn, strong growth is predicted for high-temperature superconductors, piezoelectric ceramics and ceramic magnetic materials. However, we have lowered our growth prediction in other segments of the electronic ceramics market. The total value of the U.S. advanced ceramic components market for 2000 is estimated to be $8.46 billion (see Table 1). This will increase to $11.2 billion by 2005, with an annual average growth rate of 5.7%.

Table 2. Share of U.S. advanced ceramic component market segments, 2000-2005.
Table 2 shows the market shares for structural ceramics, electronic ceramics, ceramic coatings and ceramics for chemical processing and environmental-related applications. In terms of market share, electronics constituted 64.7% of the market in 2000. This market share will be maintained until the year 2005. While structural ceramics and ceramic coatings will slightly increase their market shares, ceramics used for chemical processing applications will decrease their share slightly by 2005.

Figure 1. U.S. advanced ceramics market segments, 2000.
Figures 1 and 2 compare the shares of various market segments for 2000 and 2005.

Figure 2. U.S. advanced ceramic market segments, 2005.
The demand for ceramic coatings for military engines declined in the 1990s. However, tool inserts, wear-resistant components and other industrial applications picked up, enabling overall market growth. Due to the new regulations for emissions from automobiles as well as hot industrial gases, ceramic automotive catalyst supports and ceramics filters are being increasingly used to reduce pollutants from these emissions. These, along with ceramic membranes, are growing rapidly. In the structural ceramics area, several industrial segments—including cutting tools, wear-resistant parts, bioceramics, ceramic armor and ceramics used for semiconductor equipment—have been growing.

Structural Ceramics

Among structural ceramics, 43% are used as wear-resistant parts such as liners, guides, pulleys, dies, nozzles, grinding media, valves, seals, plungers, bearings, and parts for pulp and paper making. Although the cost of many of these components remains a barrier, structural ceramics are being increasingly commercialized. Another important application has been for components used in semiconductor manufacturing equipment. The U.S. military has also been contributing to this market by its increased use of ceramic armor. The U.S. advanced structural ceramics market is expected to grow from $541 million in 2000 to $736 million in 2005 and will have the largest average annual growth rate (6.3%) over the next five years compared to other advanced ceramics markets.

Next to wear-resistant ceramics is bioceramics, with 20% of the structural ceramics market share. Bioceramic applications include ceramics and glass-ceramics implants and glass-ceramic dental crowns and posterior materials.

Ceramic cutting tool inserts constitute about 17% of the structural ceramics market. These include alumina (Al2O3), Al2O3/TiC, SiC whisker-reinforced alumina, silicon nitride and sialon. The ceramic cutting tool markets have gotten a boost due to the commercialization and increased availability of SiC whisker-reinforced alumina and silicon nitride tool inserts at competitive prices.

Electronic Ceramics

Since last year’s prediction, the growth rates for ceramic capacitors and insulating capacitors (ICs) have been lowered. However, we see an increased market share and growth rate for ferrite magnets and piezoelectric ceramics. The new revolutionary electronic ceramic materials are superconductor ceramics consisting of mixed oxides containing rare earth oxides and copper oxides. Although the market share for these ceramics is less than 1% in 2000, their growth rate will be the highest in the next five years—as much as 20% annually—due to their increased use in microwave filters and resonators. The total U.S. consumption of electronic ceramic components in 2000 is estimated to be $5,470 million. The market will further increase to $7,236 million by the year 2005. The growth rate for electronic ceramics is estimated to be 5.8% from 2000 to the year 2005.

High-Performance Coatings

The market performance for high-performance ceramic coatings is expected to remain as predicted in 2000. Although the high-performance ceramic coating market was estimated to have a high growth rate in the 1990s, the market showed less growth because of the decline in the military aircraft engine market. However, many new industrial applications have compensated for that decline. The ceramic coating service market for 2000 was estimated to be $866 million. It will reach $1,208 million by the year 2005. The largest market segment is for aircraft engines and other aerospace applications. These and cutting tool applications will account for close to 90% of the market for the next five years.

Environmental and Industrial Products

The market growth for environmental and industrial related products will be maintained at 5.3% from 2000 to 2005. Products include canned catalytic converter substrates for trucks and light vehicles, as well as catalysts and catalyst supports for chemical processing applications. Ceramic catalysts and catalyst supports constitute the largest market segment outside of electronic ceramics at over $1 billion. Along with ceramic membranes and filters, these applications comprise a $1,578 billion market in 2000 and will reach $2,036 billion by 2005.

Editor’s Note

This article is based on four BCC studies, “Advanced Ceramics Opportunities—Technical, Economic and Market Analysis;” “Advanced Ceramic Powders and Nano-Sized Ceramic Powders: Material Types, Processing Technologies, New Developments, Industry Structure, Markets and International Competition;” “Piezoelectric Ceramics;” and “High Tech Ceramics Review 2000.” Copies of the table of contents of these studies, including the introduction, are available gratis. Contact Dr. Thomas Abraham, BCC Inc., 25 Van Zant St., Norwalk, CT 06855; (203) 853-4266, ext. 313; fax (203) 853-0348; or e-mail

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