Nonmetallic and inorganic ceramics that have variety of electrical properties ranging from insulators to semiconductors to highly conductive materials are called technical ceramics. They also have significant physical properties such as high hardness, high temperature stability, and low thermal expansion. Technical ceramics are classified into three categories — oxides, non-oxides, and composite materials. Oxides include alumina, beryllia, ceria, and zirconia. Non-oxides consist of carbide, boride, nitride, and silicide. Composite materials are particulate reinforced, fiber reinforced, and a combination of oxides and non-oxides. Depending on the different properties inherited by the technical ceramics it is forecasted to widen the range of applications in the end user industries.
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Technical ceramics are segmented on the bases of end use application into automotive, electronic, energy & environment, mechanical engineering, and medical technology. Technical ceramics play a vital role in increasing safety, cost-effectiveness, and comfort in vehicle and automotive engineering. They are used as sensors for electronic control of cars, by providing information on the vehicle’s engine operation, position, and changes in direction.
Technical ceramics offer excellent electrical, thermal, and chemical properties which has led to major applications in the electronic sector such as ceramic substrates, circuit carriers, core materials, and other electronic components. Electronics is one of the largest application sector for the technical ceramic market globally. Technical ceramics exhibit properties such as wear resistance, temperature resistance, and high level of corrosion resistance which has resulted in application of technical ceramics in the energy and environment sector.
Technical ceramics can withstand high temperature and mechanical stresses in end use applications such as generating energy in power plant engines and turbines or in systems for photovoltaic, solar thermal energy conversion, wind and water power plants. Technical ceramics ensures increase in performance capability of plants and efficient use of resources in energy distribution and supply from both conventional and renewable energy sources. Technical ceramics have wide range of application in equipment and mechanical engineering due to properties such as wear resistance, temperature resistance, and high corrosion resistance.
In industrial applications technical ceramics make a large contributions in increasing the performance and operating life of the machines and systems. Medical sector is another major end use sector for technical ceramics. Technical ceramics are effectively used in orthopedics and increase quality of life with implant components for knee replacement and artificial hip joints. Technical ceramics are employed in equipment and medical devices such as ultrasonic cleaners, lithotripters, and in dental products in the field of dental ceramics.
Globally, the technical ceramics market is segmented into five regions, namely, Asia Pacific, North America, Europe, Middle East & Africa, and Latin America. In 2014, Asia Pacific accounted for the largest market share followed by North America and Europe. The contribution from developing economies such as India and China has led Asia Pacific to maintain its dominance in the global market. Electronic sector in growing economies is anticipated to be the fastest growing end user sector in Asia Pacific in the near future. The growth of the automotive sector in Asia Pacific is also anticipated to boost the demand for technical ceramics.
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Some of the players operating in the global market include CeramTec GMBH, CoorsTek Inc., Morgan Advanced Materials plc., KYOCERA Corporation, McDanel Advanced Ceramic Technologies LLC, Saint-Gobain, 3M Advanced Materials, Superior Technical Ceramics, Rauschert GMBH, and NGK Spark Plug, Inc.