U.S. Advanced Ceramics Growth Continues

Photo courtesy of Saint-Gobain Industrial Ceramics Inc., Worcester, MA.
Advanced ceramics has grown from a market of $3.5 billion in 1989 to $8.1 billion in 1999, with an annual average growth rate (AAGR) of 8.7%. In a recent update of the advanced ceramic markets, Business Communications Co. (BCC) projected that electronic ceramics will not only continue to hold the largest share of the market but will also lead in the growth rate. Structural ceramics will be a close second. The total value of the U.S. advanced ceramic components market for 1999 is estimated to be $8.1 billion (see Table 1). This will increase to $11.8 billion by 2004, with an AAGR of 7.9%.

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 65.7% of the market in 1999. With increased use of ICs and capacitors in computers and telecommunication applications, the electronic market share will increase to 68.2% by the year 2004. While structural ceramics will slightly increase its market share, ceramic coatings and ceramics used for chemical processing applications will decrease their shares by the year 2004. Ceramics used in environmental-related applications are expected to grow at a rate above the overall growth rate of advanced ceramics. Figures 1 and 2 show market segment shares for 1999 and the year 2004.

Figure 1. U.S. advanced ceramic market segments, 1999.

Structural Ceramics

The U.S. advanced structural ceramics market is expected to grow from $460 million in 1999 to $695 million in 2004, with a similar growth rate to that of electronic ceramics. In the structural ceramics market, wear-resistant parts hold the largest market share. Applications within this segment include bearings; mechanical seals and valves; dies, guides and pulleys; liners, grinding media, and components for the pulp and paper making industry; nozzles; and reticulated ceramics for molten metal filters.

The ceramic cutting tool markets got a boost due to the commercialization and increased availability of SiC whisker-reinforced alumina and silicon nitride tools inserts at competitive prices. Ceramic cutting tool inserts include alumina (Al2O3),Al2O3/TiC, SiC whisker-reinforced alumina, silicon nitride and SiAlON.

The market for engine ceramics has not taken off as was predicted in the 1980s. Ceramic parts are currently used in aircraft and aerospace engines, land-based turbine engines, marine engines, and limited automobile applications such as turbocharger. Some of these components include ceramic matrix composites, which are being tested in prototype quantities.

Since no more space shuttles are planned, the replacement market is the only market for shuttle tiles. Other aerospace applications include radomes, antenna windows, nozzles, exhaust ducts and leading edge applications. The major defense-related application is ceramic armor used in helicopters and land-based vehicles.

Markets for energy applications include heat exchangers, heating chambers and other high temperature applications, and reticulated ceramics for molten metal filters.

Bioceramic applications include ceramics and glass-ceramics implants and glass-ceramic dental crowns and posterior materials.

Figure 2. U.S. advanced ceramic market segments, 2004.

Electronic Ceramics

The mature markets for advanced ceramics in the electronic industry are insulators, substrates, capacitors, integrated circuit packages, magnetic ferrites and piezoelectric ceramics. The revolutionary new electronic ceramic materials are superconductor ceramics consisting of mixed oxides containing rare earth oxides and copper oxides. The total U.S. consumption of electronic ceramic components in 1999 is estimated to be $5.3 billion. The market will further increase to $8.06 billion by the year 2004. The growth rate for electronic ceramics is estimated to be 8.7% from 1999 to the year 2004.

Table 1. U.S. markets for advanced ceramic components, 1999 to 2004. ($ Million)

High-Performance Coatings

The high-performance ceramic coatings market was estimated to have a high growth rate in the 1990s. This market segment showed less growth because of the decline in the military aircraft engine market, but many new industrial applications have compensated for that decline. The ceramic coating service market for 1999 was estimated to be $810 million. It is expected to reach $1.13 billion by the year 2004. 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.

Table 2. Share of U.S. advanced ceramic component market segments, 1999 to 2004.

Environmental and Industrial Products

Environmental and industrial products include canned catalytic converter substrates for trucks and light vehicles, catalysts, and catalyst supports for chemical processing applications. Of all the large commercial ceramic market segments, ceramic membranes have the largest growth rate-as much as 15% from 1999 to 2004. Ceramic catalysts and catalyst supports constitute the largest market segment outside the electronic ceramics, with over $1 billion. These, along with ceramic membranes and filters, make a total market of $1.5 billion in 1999 and will reach $1.9 billion by 2004.

Editor's Note

This article is based on three 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,"and "High Tech Ceramics Review '99." 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; e-mail tabraham@bccresearch.com.

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