Hundreds of materials are being developed on the nanoscale, both in pure form and as composites. Examples include carbon, tungsten, titanium and cobalt, as well as many technical ceramics, such as aluminum oxide (Al2O3), silicon carbide (SiC) and their composites. Further, applications for nanomaterials are increasingly growing and include coatings and powder composites used in alloying and doping, as well as solid preforms.
Ceramics, because of their broad physical and electronic capabilities, continue to be one of the key materials for extensive nanoscale development. Thus, the commercial potential of nanostructured ceramics, or nanoceramics, in pure form and as a composite or coating material is becoming increasingly well documented, and hundreds of companies are developing products ranging from thin-film coatings and cutting tools to engine components and wear parts.
Thus, within the coatings market, application demands dictate the process used in applying the coating, as well as process advancements. New technologies are continually being developed employing thermal plasma spraying and high-velocity oxygen fuels (HVOF), which are the two main processes of forming and applying nanomaterial coatings. In thermal plasma spraying, a material is heated to its molten form using a torch or furnace and is deposited through a jet nozzle onto the substrate material. In HVOF, oxygen and fuel gas create extremely high temperatures and propulsion velocities, melting the source material and allowing for a high-density coating. The advantages of each type of process depend on the application. For example, there have been indications in testing that the HVOF process produces better results in abrasion wear applications within the paper-making and automotive engine parts markets due to substrate material composition and factors of operation. Thus, steps being taken to commercialize each process must clearly account for technical and practical factors, many of which are still being discovered on the nanoscale.
Many of these phases are being considered concurrently and could move the implementation of mass-scale production within a five to seven year window of opportunity, considering current investment trends by the public and private sectors. Thus, the world market is predicted to grow by a cumulative average annual growth rate of 14.8% from 2004-2009. Each market will show strong growth levels ranging from 10.7% to 18.1%, led by the medical/bioscience market (see Table 1). The market will continue to be driven by scientific gains and grow at a healthy 14.8% to reach nearly $900 million by 2009.
Editor's note: The foregoing information was based on a new report recently published by Dedalus Consulting Inc., titled Nanostructured Materials: Developing Markets, Applications & Commercial Opportunities: 2004-2009 Analysis and Forecasts (May 2004). The report was based on primary and secondary sources, including surveys of more than 150 scientists, material suppliers and end users. For more information about this report, contact Dedalus Consulting at 128 Prospect Place, 4th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11217; (718) 622-0830; fax (718) 622-0831; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org ; or visit http://www.dedalusconsulting.com .