The global shape memory alloys market size is expected to witness substantial growth over the forecast period owing to widespread usage of the product in the commercial industry. Shape memory alloys are metal alloys that can regain their shape after heating above a particular temperature. They have two stable phases, including high temperature (austenite) and low-temperature (martensite).
The product is widely used in the commercial industry owing to its pseudo-elastic properties during the high-temperature phase. Martensite phase can be created with the help of stress in the austenite phase. After removal of the load, it transforms back into the austenite phase and takes its original shape.
As these materials are comparatively new, many of engineering descriptors, such as yield strength and Young’s modulus, are not applicable to shape memory alloys as they are heavily dependent on temperature.
Nitinol, copper-based, and iron-manganese silicon are various product types available in the market. Nitinol is a family of nickel-titanium alloys. Shape memory alloys are manufactured by casting, with the help of induction melting or vacuum arc melting. Metals are well mixed, as these techniques produce fewer impurities. Nitinol has a wide application range, including thermal and electric actuators, biomedical, and damping.
Major end-use industries in the market include biomedical, aerospace and defense, automotive, and consumer electronics and home appliances. Aerospace and aeronautics hold a prominent share in the market owing to widespread application of shape memory alloys in damping, coupling, actuators, shelf healing, and morphing. For instance, organizations, such as Goodrich Corporation, Boeing, NASA, General Electric Aircraft Engines, and All Nippon Airways developed the Variable Geometry Chevron using SMAs that reduces aircraft’s engine noise.
In addition, SMAs have developed a wide range of applications in the automotive industry. In Japan, around 100 patents are filed annually for SMAs and most of them are associated with actuators. However, penetration of these alloys is limited in the automotive industry owing to lack of knowledge and low market awareness regarding these alloys. Integration of electronics, smart materials, and mechanical system is expected to present ample growth opportunities for the market.
The product is also extensively used in bioengineering applications, such as dental wires, mending of broken bones, and reinforcement of veins and arteries. Other applications of the product include golf clubs, anti-scalding protection, fire security and protection systems, helicopter blades, tubes, wires, ribbons, and eyeglass frames.
In the recent past, SMA actuators have been successfully employed in various actuation and low-frequency applications. They can be classified into two groups, thermal and electrical actuators. Thermal actuator starts its actuation after sensing surrounding environment whereas, electric actuators initiate after being heated by electric current. Most of the organizations are still working on improving the performance, including enhancement of fatigue life, bandwidth, and stability.
The market can be classified based on geography as North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Central and South America, and Middle East and Africa. North America is a leading region in the market. United States is one of the key contributors to the growth owing to extensive research and development and growing applications of SMAs in the aerospace industry. Asia Pacific is also expected to open up significant growth opportunities for the SMAs market in coming years.
For instance, China is supporting the growth of smart materials through tax incentives and significant investment. Organizations, such as the China Aerospace Fund and the National Science Foundation of China, are increasing their budget in order to support development of smart materials sector. In 12th Five-Year Development Plan of China, smart materials, such as piezoelectric materials, rare-earth magneto-strictive materials, and shape memory alloys are listed as one of the seven priority industries. Moreover, popular institutes, such as Harbin Institute of Technology, Institute of Metal of Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University, are engaged in research and development activities of shape memory alloys.
Technological advancement in manufacturing has led to an increase in production quality and quantity. Development of an effective information platform is likely to broaden the scope of the market in future. Another major area of interest for organizations is development of new design approaches for novel product applications.
Key manufacturers operating in the shape memory alloys market include ATI Specialty Alloys & Components, SAES group, Johnson Matthey, Furukawa Electric Co., Ltd, Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation, Seabird Metal, and Fort Wayne Metals Research Products Corp. Manufacturers are trying to expand their product offerings through investments in research and development activities.
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