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Material | May 29, 2007

Silver conductive inks market<br>worth $1.2 Billion by 2014

According to a new report from NanoMarkets the market for silver conductive inks is expected to reach $1.2 billion ($US) by 2014, compared with $176 million in 2007.
Nanoparticulate silver inks promise to lower the costs of printed electronics by reducing the need for high-temperature processing and enabling less material to be used. Because lower temperatures are needed to cure nanoinks they are also more suitable for use on flexible substrates that typically use thermally sensitive plastics. According to NanoMarkets, the market for silver “nanoinks" is expected to reach $844 million by 2014.

At present 95 percent of the silver conductive ink market is represented by traditional “thick-film" applications in which screen printing is used in the creation of PCBs, automobile heaters, EMI shielding and membrane switches. By 2014, such applications will have fallen to just over 20 percent of the silver ink market with the now-negligible RFID sector accounting for more than 30 percent of the market. Silver is the material of choice for RFID antennas and printing RFID tags is seen as the most likely way to reduce their costs to a point where such tags can be widely used on cost sensitive items such as food packages.

In the past, silver conductive inks have been strongly associated with screen printing, but because ink-jet printing offers lower material wastage and creates finer features, it is likely to be used more with silver inks in the future. This will create an opportunity for ink makers to design new silver inks that are viscous enough to create individual droplets but also able to flow through the print head. By 2014, ink-jet silver inks are expected to reach $404 million. And, as volumes in the printable electronics market ramp up there will also be a need for more use of flexo and gravure inks, which are expected to reach $398 million by 2014.

NanoMarkets predicts that there will be more investments in smaller materials and ink manufacturers by larger specialty chemical and materials companies looking to enter the business through partnerships or controllable IP. The firm points to investments by companies such as National Starch, Air Products and ChevronTexaco as recent examples and goes on to say acquisitions will likely be seen in the near term future as well.

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