Silicon carbide (SiC), also known as Carborundum is an exceptionally hard material that occurs in minor quantities in the Earth’s crust. It can also be manufactured synthetically by blending petroleum coke and sand (silica) under high temperature and pressure conditions. Diamond, boron carbide and boron nitrate are some of the substitute materials of silicon carbide that also possesses high hardness properties.
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Owing to its hardness, silicon carbide has been extensively used as an abrasive material for various industrial applications. Blades, drill tips, and abrasive surfaces for polishing have been manufactured from silicon carbide as a cheaper alternative to diamond and diamond dust.
Silicon carbide is also used as a structural material in composite armor, as ceramic plates in bullet-proof vests and in Dragon Skin, an armor device that uses silicon carbide disks as an integral part of its design. Due to the voltage-dependant resistance offered by SiC, the material has been used in lightening arresters and provides safe transfer of high voltages of electricity from lightening as it strikes the earth. Similar properties also helped advance their application in electrical circuits, and silicon wafers have been used on a large scale in electronics and semiconductors in the past few decades.
The Silicon Carbide market was dominated by black SiC and green SiC and they accounted for over 90% of the total silicon carbide product segment in 2012. Black silicon carbide is majorly used in steel manufacturing to increase outputs of steel and recycled steel. Coated SiC, refractory SiC, metallurgical and metallurgical briquettes and SiC micro grit account for a smaller part of the market share and are used in some high-performance applications. Although black and green SiC dominate the SiC product segments, they are expected to show favorable growth in the forecast period.
Due to their exceptional physical properties and their versatility of application, they find diverse application bases in various end-user industries. Steel & energy, electronics & semiconductors and automotives are the major end-user segments that have shown high demand for silicon carbide. Together, these three end-user segments accounted for more than 70% of the market in 2012. Medical & healthcare is expected to show the highest growth between 2013 and 2019 along with automotives.
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Asia Pacific was the largest market for silicon carbide in 2012, accounting for more than 50% of the global demand. Steel & energy, electronics & semiconductors and automotives were the major markets driving sales for silicon carbide in Asia Pacific, making it the largest market by volumes. Europe and Rest of the World (RoW) have also shown great promise in silicon carbide demand and together accounted for about 30% of SiC sales. Asia Pacific and RoW are expected to be strong future markets for SiC due to growing industrialization and infrastructure.
AGSCO Corporation, Carborundum Universal Ltd., Entegris Inc., ESD-SIC b.v., ESK-SIC GmbH, Gaddis Engineered Materials, Grindwell Norton Ltd., Norstel AB, Saint-Gobain Ceramics Materials GmbH, Snam Abrasives Pvt. Ltd., The Dow Chemical Company, Timcal Ltd. and Xiamen Powerway Advanced Material Company Limited are some of the major manufacturers of silicon carbide.