'Smart' Green Materials Set For Major Growth: Survey

The materials covered in the survey include lead-free solders and lead-free solder coatings, replacements for chromium, cadmium, and other environmentally challenged chemicals used in the electronics manufacturing process.
LONDON — The shift to more environmental methods of producing electronic and electrical equipment may be causing headaches for many suppliers, but it is generating healthy growth for makers of ‘green’ materials, according to a soon to be published report form market research group Businesss Communications Co Inc.

The report, “Green materials for electrical, electronic and other applications”, suggests that the global market for such materials is expected to reach $8.7 billion by 2010, increasing at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 7.4 percent, up from $6.1 billion this year.

The materials covered in the survey include lead-free solders, lead-free solder coatings, replacements for polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE), hexavalent chromium, cadmium, and mercury.

The report notes that as deadlines for environmental legislation and regulations limiting or banning the use of traditional materials approach in many areas around the world, manufacturers must make careful decisions when replacing toxic materials in order to minimize process risks and ensure product quality.

PBB and PBDE replacements represent the market leader, accounting for $3.5 billion in 2003, $4.3 billion in 2004, and $4.7 billion in 2005, holding over 77 percent of the total market share. In 2010, PBB and PBDE materials will account for more than $6 billion of the total market share, maintaining an AAGR of 5.2 percent throughout the forecast period.

Sales of lead-free solders will rise at an AAGR of 20.1 percent reaching $614.9 million in 2010. The market for lead-free solder coatings will grow even faster, say the BCC researchers, at an AAGR of 21.7 percent, reaching over $1 billion by 2010. Together, they will account for almost 20% of the total market size by the end of the forecast period.

Sales of hexavalent chromium, cadmium, and mercury replacements account for 12.5 percent of the market in 2005, with sales of $107.7 million, $123.6 million, and $526.3 million, respectively. Each will grow moderately through the forecast period, representing 11.7 percent of the market for green materials and combined global revenues of $1.0 billion in 2010.

The researchers also see an upside for material suppliers as electronic manufacturers in developing countries start embracing the use of environmentally friendly components and parts.

In a separate report, BCC suggests the global market for smart materials is estimated to rise at an AAGR of 8.6 percent to $12.3 billion in 2010, from $8.1 billion this year.

The materials studied in the technical report include piezoelectric, magnetostrictive, electrochromic, thermoresponsive, and electrostrictive materials, that are able to respond dynamically to external stimuli like heat, humidity, ultraviolet light, and pressure.

The electronics industry is the primary producer of commodities using smart materials, say the BCC researchers, for devices like micro-electro mechanical systems (MEMs), micro-actuators, capacitors, and surface acoustic wave (SAW) devices for telecommunication filtering.

Piezoelectric materials, including categories such as crystals, ceramics, polymers and composites are said to represent nearly 50 percent of the total market.

The electronics industry is and will be a major market for magnetostrictive applications, says the report, but the outlook for electrostrictive materials is more problematic, as they are expensive to produce. Though useful in certain aerospace technologies, it will be difficult to introduce them to price-driven mass-markets such as electronics.

From a geographic perspective, the U.S. is the current leader in most categories of smart materials production, and is expected to retain this lead over the forecast period. The Asia/Pacific region will maintain a dominant hold on the production of piezoelectric/electrostrictive materials and steadily gain ground in the production of other materials as well.

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