Global sol-gel processing market is anticipated to witness significant growth owing to rising applications in end-use industries such as electrical & electronics and construction. Sol-gel processing is a wet chemical method used for fabrication of high-purity glass and ceramics. There are two major processing methods known as colloidal and polymeric (or alkaoxide), depending upon the type of precursors.
These methods process small molecular substances to form coherent networks, leading to the development of a solid material. This is a relatively new science which is rapidly gaining favor amongst numerous end-use industries such as construction, electronics, communications, optical devices, automotive and biomedical.
Rising applications can be attributed to several advantages over conventional materials and chemicals such as low synthesis temperatures and higher purity of end product. Technological novelty lends this material a distinct advantage in terms of lower capital costs and massive market potential, presenting various opportunities for development.
Various properties can be achieved using sol-gel technology, such as hydrophobic, oleophobic, anti-microbial, protective transparency, corrosion resistance and conducting or non-conducting surfaces. These factors are projected to drive sol-gel processing market growth over the forecast period.
Sol-gel processing market can be categorized on the basis of application into protective coatings, thin films and fibers, nano-scale powders, opto-mechanical and medicine. Highest sol-gel application can be found in the coatings and thin films industry, where films are formed on a piece of substrate by spin or dip coating.
The optical and opto-mechanical industry is also expected to generate high market demand, especially in the macroscopic and active optical components sector. These components, along with large area hot mirrors, cold mirrors, lenses and beam splitters can be made quickly with high optical geometry and purity using the sol-gel processing method. Market demand is also generated from the passive and nonlinear active waveguides and lasers industries, where this technology is utilized to manufacture indium tin and oxide thin films for low cost solar photo voltaic applications.
Increasing global demand for renewable sources of energy is creating massive opportunities for solar energy harnessing devices. Increasing demand for anti-reflective coatings from construction and infrastructure industries are also driving sol-gel processing applications. Expanding agrochemical and herbicide industries are also expected to drive sol-gel market growth over the next seven years.
Biomedical applications utilize sol-gel for coating metal implants and as a major bone grafting material. Further medical applications consume sol-gel carriers for sustained drug deliver leading to quicker wound recovery. Sol-gel applications in the cosmetics industry include production of UV absorbent sunscreen lotions and makeup. On the basis of processing technology, the global industry is classified into spinning, precipitating, gelling and coating. Sol-gel processing is convenient for most of the materials since other methods generally prove to be challenging at room temperature operation procedures.
North America market is driven by high demand from medical and healthcare sectors. Europe is expected to witness moderate growth owing to its increasing application in cosmetics and biomedical industries. Asia Pacific market is also expected to witness impressive growth on account of increasing sol-gel applications in paints & coatings industries. Economic growth along with increasing disposable income in countries such as China, India, Indonesia and Malaysia has been instrumental in driving cosmetics industry growth. With high cosmetics demand in the region, major players have started cosmetics production in India, China, Philippines and Vietnam. Since sol-gel processing is being extensively used in cosmetic formulations, the above stated trend is expected to drive APAC market growth.
Several market players are taking initiatives to commercialize sol-gel based products including Asahi Glass Co. Ltd., Ceraman Corporation, Aspen Systems Inc., 3M Nextel, Cleveland Crystal Inc, Bavarian Centre for Applied Energy Research and ENKI Technologies. Other market players such as Chemat Technologies Inc. and Simtech are also driving market development with technological advancements and innovative R&D efforts.
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