Transparent Ceramics Market: Sapphire to Remain Popular in Electrical and Electronic Applications
Transparent ceramics present significant advantages in terms of practicality, exceptional hardness, resistance to heat, functionality, and economics in diverse fields such as optics, electronics, laser technology, and communication. The applicability of transparent ceramics is profound in areas where a high degree of transparent media is required.
This is evident in electrical and electronics, such as lamps, bulbs, reflectors, and plasma, where transparent ceramics are being widely used. This has bolstered the demand for transparent ceramics in consumer electronics, which accounts for ~80% of the revenue share of the market, and as such, the global market for transparent ceramics is expected to witness staggering growth in the coming years.
Hublot, an iconic Swiss watch brand, has pioneered trend-setting innovations with the use of sapphire as a transparent ceramics material. This has helped it engineer a new era of watchmaking technology. In Jan 2019, it gave its watches a sunny, yellow hue, by fusing copper with aluminum oxide. Such path-breaking innovations have allowed sapphire as a transparent ceramic to covet the global spotlight, and it continues to be a rapidly-growing sector of the transparent ceramics market, said to capture a market share of more than 50% by the year 2027.
Transparent Ceramics Sales Gain Traction in Defense Applications through Superior Ballistic Protection
Transparent ceramics are widely used in defense components and the security industry. Their resistance to heat and stiffness, and extreme durability, make them ideal for usage in helicopter windows, optical domes, and transparent armors. Transparent ceramics will continue their dominance in the defense sector during the forecast period, due to their environmental durability and blast protection qualities.
There has been a growing requirement for transparent armor for personnel protection as well as infrared windows for reconnaissance. Transparent ceramic armor provides high-end and superior ballistic protection over erstwhile glass laminates, which is likely to influence the development of innovative transparent ceramics that can be used in applications in the defense industry.
For instance, ALON, or aluminum oxynitride, is a transparent ceramic material made up of aluminum, oxygen, and nitrogen. By applying pressure and heat, it can be transformed from a powder to a large window. ALON’s use as a transparent armor is being seen on U.S. Army Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters. Its excellent impact-resistance will fuel the growth of transparent ceramics in aerospace and defense industries.
Winning Imperatives: New-age Laser Ceramics to Fuel Growth
Transparent polycrystalline ceramics have played a huge role in various laser applications. For optical technologies to propel ahead, it is vital that the current limitations with traditional transparent ceramics are overcome successfully. New-age ceramics with superior magneto-optic properties, illumination, and infrared lasing need to be pursued to bolster the demand for transparent ceramics.
A new type of laser ceramic material is the Nd-doped fluorapatite (Nd:FAP), which has a hexagonal crystal structure that allows high-powered laser fusion. FAP has lots of potential for laser fusion, due to its ability to increase in size, and its composite features and uniformity. It can also be used as a biomaterial for osteogenic applications. This will lead to significant growth and development of the transparent ceramics market in the optical field.
Yttrium Aluminum Garnet (YAG) is one of the most sought-after laser transparent ceramic material. It is used for varied end-use applications such as scintillation, cathode ray tubes, electro-luminescence, and efficient laser applications. Its low creep rate, low electrical conductivity, and high melting temperature makes it an ideal transparent ceramic material for myriad structural applications. This will fuel the growth of YAG in the transparent ceramics market. With a CAGR of ~20% over the forecast period, the sales of this material are likely to reach a valuation of ~US$ 300 million by the year 2027.
Players at the Forefront of Acquisitions Will Dominate Market Landscape
The competition landscape for the transparent ceramics market shows a fair amount of consolidation, as there are a limited number of key players in this market space. Leading market players are thriving due to their active involvement in acquisitions, research & development, and focus on newer technologies. Leading players, due to their product penetration strategies, hold ~40% of the global market share for transparent ceramics.
II-VI Optical Systems and Ceram Tec have resolutely established their stronghold in the market, owing to their acquisition strategies, specialized product portfolios, and use of transparent ceramic products in fast-growing sectors such as optics and optoelectronics.
CeramTec is one of the leading suppliers of high-performance ceramics that are high on mechanical, electrical, thermal, and biochemical properties. For instance, at Aluminum 2018, a world trade fair for the aluminum industry, CeramTec presented ceramic components for pyrometric applications. These are especially suited for challenging applications in foundry engineering.
II-VI Optical Systems is all set to acquire photonic component maker Finisar, this year. Once the company completes this acquisition, it will see a massive jump in its revenue and personnel, which will aid its expansion in the global market.
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3M is an emerging key player in the competitive landscape of transparent ceramics. It is a technology company serving diversified end users. In 2018, it alone captured 7% of the market. In May 2019, 3M acquired Acelity Inc. – a provider for advanced wound care technologies and myriad surgical applications – for a total value of ~US$ 7 billion. The acquisition will enable 3M to expand and grow in the field of medicine and wound care. It will bolster 3M’s medical solutions business, and enable it to diversify its transparent ceramics product portfolio in advanced medical applications.