Advanced ceramic materials are a mature technology with a very broad base of current and potential applications and a growing list of material compositions. Advanced ceramics are inorganic, nonmetallic materials with combinations of fine–scale microstructures, purity, complex compositions and crystal structures, and accurately controlled additives. Such materials require a level of processing science and engineering far beyond that used in making conventional ceramics. These new generations of high–performance materials have already reached a U.S. market of several billion dollars. Collectively, they represent an enabling technology whose continued development is critical to advances in a host of new high–technology applications, ranging from modern microelectronics to superconductors and nanotechnology.
The outstanding properties possessed by advanced ceramics are achieved through special compositions and microstructures that require very careful control throughout the successive stages of ceramic processing. These stages are: powder synthesis, powder sizing, rheology control, consolidation and forming processes, sintering, final machining, and inspection.
Ceramic powder is a necessary ingredient for most of the structural ceramics, electronic ceramics, ceramic coatings, and chemical processing and environmental related ceramics. For most advanced ceramic components, starting powder is a crucial factor. The performance characteristics of a ceramic component are greatly influenced by precursor powder characteristics. Among the most important are the powder’s chemical purity, particle size distribution, and the manner in which the powders are packed in the green body before sintering.
Powders of narrow size distribution can be compacted into ordered arrays and, when in the submicron region, these powders are sintered at reduced temperatures. Consequently, in the processing of advanced ceramics, there is a growing need to develop synthetic techniques capable of producing submicron, chemically pure powders with a tailored size distribution. However, the cost is again the factor since the new synthetic processing techniques are comparatively more expensive than the currently established powder manufacturing methods.
Nanoceramic powders constitute an important segment of the whole nanostructured materials market. These powders are used in an array of applications from microelectronics, optical, chemical, environmental, and magnetic recording.
STUDY GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
BCC published the first report on this subject, entitled Advanced Ceramic Powders, in 1994. Since then, many new developments have occurred, especially in the availability of large quantities of nanoceramic powders, as well as the increased usage of these powders.
BCC has updated the original report several times in order to reflect timely developments in advanced and nanoceramic powders. The present report is the sixth updated edition of the 1994 study. Its objectives are to:
- Provide an overview of the various advanced ceramic and nanosized ceramic powders, their production technologies, and applications
- Identify the technological and business issues related to the commercial production and use of advanced ceramic and nanosized ceramic powders
- Determine the current size and future growth of the markets for oxide, carbide, nitride, and boride ceramic powders
- Determine the current size and future growth of the markets for nanosized ceramic powders
- Identify and profile suppliers of advanced ceramic and nanosized ceramic powders to the U.S. market
- Identify major user industries of advanced ceramic and nanosized ceramic powders
- Identify major issues related to the production and commercialization of advanced ceramic and nanosized ceramic powders
CONTRIBUTIONS Of THE STUDY
BCC’s technical and economic study covers the material types, synthesis techniques, production methods, current and emerging applications, suppliers, and trends in consumption of the various types of advanced ceramic and nanosized ceramic powders. Current size and future growth of the markets are estimated for the period 2010 through 2016. The report profiles commercially significant suppliers of advanced ceramic and nanosized ceramic powders to the U.S. market.
In particular, the term nanotechnology is used today to describe a wide range of new technologies and materials, not all of which are actually nanoscale. Some manufacturers have tacked the prefix “nano” onto their products and processes, whether or not they deal in nano–sized elements, in an attempt to boost customer or investor interest. Such hype inevitably carries with it the risk of a backlash, because it can create unrealistic expectations for nanotechnology. This report takes a realistic look at the nanoceramics field and tries to provide a road map to the technologies and applications that show the greatest commercial promise over the next 5 years.
SCOPE OF REPORTS
For each ceramic powder type, the report provides an analysis of material types in that category, processing technologies, properties, applications, suppliers, prices, and U.S. markets.
A technology review has been conducted on the current and emerging ceramic powder production technologies, such as carbothermal reduction, vapor–phase reaction, plasma processes, sol–gel techniques, and chemical techniques (including precipitation, hydrothermal process, emulsion process, laser synthesis, and self–propagating high–temperature synthesis [SHS]). Nanosized powders have been treated in a separate chapter since many nanosized powder synthesis technologies are common to different ceramic powders.
The qualitative and quantitative judgments embodied in this report are a valuable contribution to the current knowledge of advanced and nanosized ceramic powders, their processing techniques, applications, and markets. They should be useful to companies that are facing decisions about their strategies for expansion or entering new areas of business.
METHODOLOGY AND INFORMATION SOURCES
The findings of this report are based on information derived from interviews with many producers and potential producers of advanced ceramic powders and nanosized ceramic powders, industry experts, and those conducting research and development. In addition, many end users were contacted to evaluate the current and future demand for these materials. Secondary data were obtained from trade publications, technical journals, government statistics, and BCC databases.
With 2010 as a baseline, projections for each market segment were developed for 2011 through 2016. The projections are based on a combination of a consensus among the primary contacts combined with BCC’s understanding of the key market drivers and their impact from a historical and analytical perspective.
Unless otherwise noted, all dollar projections presented in this report are in 2010 constant dollars.
This report is directed to the various types of companies that are interested in the developments of this field. These include:
- Companies involved in the development, manufacturing, and supplying of advanced materials.
- Manufacturers and suppliers of advanced ceramic raw materials.
- Manufacturers and suppliers of advanced ceramic powders.
- Companies involved in R&D and commercialization of nanosized ceramic powders.
- Companies involved in the development and manufacture of advanced ceramic components.
- Engine component manufacturers.
- Cutting tool insert manufacturers.
- Manufacturers of integrated circuits, piezoelectric elements, capacitors, ferrite magnets and magnetic cores, and superconductor wires.
- Suppliers and users of thermal spray powders.
- Manufacturers of wear parts and OEM suppliers.
- Manufacturers of ceramic catalysts, catalyst supports, and auto catalytic converters.
- Manufacturers of ceramic membranes and filters.
- Producers and users of chemical mechanical polishing (CMP) slurries.
- Producers of magnetic recording media.
- Producers of sunscreens.
- Chemical companies interested in diversification.
- Venture capital companies and financial institutions interested in new, attractive investments and acquisitions.
This report is an update of an earlier report prepared by Dr. Thomas Abraham. Dr. Abraham was formerly Vice President, and Director of the Advanced Materials Group of BCC. Dr. Abraham has extensive experience in the field of advanced materials, including advanced ceramics, synthetic diamonds and diamond films, magnetic materials, high performance coatings, and superconductors.
The analyst responsible for updating the report is Andrew McWilliams, a partner in the Boston–based international technology and marketing consulting firm, 43rd Parallel LLC. Mr. McWilliams is the author of numerous other BCC studies, including those in ceramic–related fields such as NAN031D Nanotechnology: A Realistic Market Assessment; AVM015E High–performance Ceramic Coatings: Markets and Technologies; AVM025G Diamond, Diamond–like and CBN Films and Coating Products; AVM066B: Superconductors: Technologies and Global Markets; NAN021D Nanocomposites, Nanoparticles, Nanoclays, and Nanotubes; and NAN040A Nanomaterials Markets by Type.
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The information developed in this report is intended to be as reliable as possible at the time of publication and of a professional nature. This information does not constitute managerial, legal, or accounting advice; nor should it serve as a corporate policy guide, laboratory manual, or an endorsement of any product, as much of the information is speculative in nature. The authors assume no responsibility for any loss or damage that might result from reliance on the reported information or its use.