US demand to rise 5% annually through 2017
Demand for advanced ceramics in the US is forecast to rise more than five percent annually to $13.5 billion in 2017. Gains will be driven by the development of new applications for advanced ceramics and by their increased adoption in already established applications based on superior performance and material properties. These trends will be most pronounced in the machinery, transportation, and medical markets, all of which will grow at an above average pace. Growth will accelerate in the large electrical and electronic components markets, while the defense market will remain below its 2007 peak and will not approach the double-digit annual growth exhibited in the past 10 years.
Medical market to be fastest growing
New bioceramic applications such as knee, orbital eye, and dental implants will help drive the medical product market at a double-digit annual pace over the forecast period, the fastest pace of any market. A shift in preference by the medical community toward ceramic products in existing orthopedic (especially hip) uses will support rising demand as well, as competing materials, such as plastics and titanium, lose share to bioceramics.
The key drivers of demand in transportation markets will be due to rising heavyduty truck production and engine parts, plus increased use of particulate filters. Automotive engines face rising efficiency standards that can be met externally through catalysts and filters and internally through higher, more efficient operating pressures. These high-pressure, hightemperature operating environments further advanced ceramics demand because they require parts that offer greater compressive strength and wear resistance than traditional materials -- such as metal -- can provide.
Increasingly, industrial machinery and advanced manufacturing processes require bearings, wear parts, and tools that will remain operational even under the harshest or most demanding environments. Ceramic materials benefit in these situations due to their superior performance attributes. Growth in demand may also benefit from a general shift toward onshoring of advanced manufacturing production as the need for efficiency and global competitiveness is driving the adoption of more advanced material solutions, often involving ceramics.
Electronic, electrical markets to remain largest consumers
The electronic and electrical markets will remain two of the largest consumers of advanced ceramics, though both will experience modest advances due to a confluence of factors including US market maturity, product commoditization, and increased global competition. Still, the pace of growth will accelerate through 2017 as manufacturers work to improve their competitiveness. Additionally, some electronics manufacturing will return to the US as companies work to reduce product development times and facilitate greater levels of customization.
The defense market will post meager gains compared to those of the past decade when a full-fleet re-armoring of US troops and vehicles drove advanced ceramics demand past $1 billion per year during peak production periods. Growth going forward will depend in part on foreign military sales (FMS) and any need for next-generation ceramic armor that may arise out of future conflicts.