- THE MAGAZINE
Demand for advanced ceramics in the U.S. is forecast to increase 7.0% per year from a weak 2005 base to over $12 billion in 2010. Following a few years of retracted demand, the industry began to pick up momentum in 2003, gained strength in 2004 and 2005, and is poised to continue growth through 2010. Although the advanced ceramics industry is in some respects mature and well-established, it also relies heavily on technology. New or reinvigorated uses for ceramics that offer growth potential include ballistic armor, ceramic composite automotive brakes, diesel particulate filters, a wide variety of joint replacement products and piezoceramic sensors.
Cordierite, titanate and zirconate ceramics will record the most rapid rates of growth due to their use in environmental, medical product and electronic component markets. A continued expansion in electronic component shipments will provide opportunities for titanates and other ceramics. Cordierite, titanates and others will benefit from a continued desire to reduce the amount of particulates, nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides released into the atmosphere. Technological advancements in the medical product market will provide opportunities for such ceramics as zirconates.
Other advanced ceramics, such as alumina, beryllia, silicon carbide and silicon nitride materials, however, will show below average gains due to environmental concerns, competition from other ceramics and a reliance on slower-growing markets (such as cutting tools).
ElectronicsThe use of advanced ceramics is highly dependent on the health of the electronic component and electrical equipment industries, which accounted for a combined 52% of total demand in 2005. In the electronic component market, the production of cellular phones, portable computing devices, gaming systems and other personal electronic devices will continue to spark demand for semiconductors, capacitors and other ceramics-containing electronic components.
The largest outlets for advanced ceramics in the electrical equipment market are insulators and permanent magnets, which accounted for a combined 38% of total demand in 2005. Other advanced ceramic electrical equipment includes igniters, heating elements, heat shielding components, connectors and seals. All advanced ceramic use is included in this market, such as those instances where electrical equipment is utilized in the assembly of machinery and transportation equipment.
IndustrialDemand for advanced ceramics in the industrial machinery market is projected to increase 5.3% per year through 2010 from a weak 2005 base. The primary growth driver will be the cyclical recovery in industrial markets following the downturn of the early 2000s.
As users of machine tools and other industrial machinery begin to benefit from the generally stronger macroeconomic environment, the need to expand capacity, bring idled capacity back online and perform upgrades to existing equipment will provide market opportunities for producers of ceramic wear parts. In the case of cutting tools, which are more of a consumable item, economic recovery will mean greater demand for the tools necessary to cut and form metal.
Transportation and MedicalThe transportation equipment and medical product markets will also post healthy gains. In the transportation equipment market, growth will result from acceleration in the production of both aerospace and motor vehicle equipment, as well as through the increased use of ceramics in catalytic converter substrates, engine bearings, ceramic armor for military vehicles, diesel engine particulate filters and ceramic matrix composite brakes.
In the medical product market, gains will derive from the increasing utilization of ceramics in joint replacement and dental procedures.
Other MaterialsMonolithic ceramics (unreinforced ceramics cast directly into final form) represent the dominant and best-established segment of the industry. These products will experience more rapid gains, primarily due to their use in the key electronic components market, which is set to rebound from rates posted during the 2000-2005 period.
Consumption of ceramic coatings is forecast to increase 6.4% annually to $1.1 billion in 2010. Engine parts will show the greatest growth potential, based largely on recovery in the transportation equipment sector, and particularly in aerospace equipment. Potential growth applications include building insulation, anti-corrosion and fire protection coatings, and nanocrystalline coatings.
The fastest growth area for ceramic matrix composites will also be in engine parts, while cutting tool and wear part applications will lag overall growth. In general, growth will derive from the increased use of ceramic matrix composites in a variety of extreme environment applications where the enhanced strength and durability of these ceramics provide performance advantages.
Editor's note: This article is based on Advanced Ceramics, a December 2006 study available from The Freedonia Group (226 pages, $4400). For more information, contact Corinne Gangloff, The Freedonia Group, 767 Beta Dr., Cleveland, OH 44143-2326; (440) 684-9600; fax (440) 646-0484; e-mail email@example.com; or visit www.freedoniagroup.com.