Smart materials can be included in the category of reactive materials that change their properties as a response to changes in external environment. Possessing multiple physico-chemical properties that enable these materials to change as per the external stimuli, smart materials have the capacity to adapt to the changed environment via alteration of their properties. Smart materials undergo changes when in contact with elements such as temperature, magnetic or electric field, pH, mechanical stress, and light. As the change occurring in the properties of these materials is reversible, smart materials can be reused over and over. Sensitivity to change, easy adaption, and quick response are some of the major advantages of smart materials.
The global market for smart materials was pegged at US$27.7 bn in 2013 and is expected to keep expanding at a CAGR of 12.5% between 2014 and 2020. By the end of 2020, the market will have achieved a revenue worth US$63.28bn, predicts Transparency Market Research (TMR).
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Growing Demand for Smart Materials Catapults North America at the Fore
North America led the global smart materials market in 2013. The region is expected to retain its dominant position over the forecast period as well. By 2020, the smart materials market in North America is expected to account for a share of 38.2% in the global market. In response to the increasing demand for piezo-electric based actuators and motors, the market is advancing at a rapid pace. The growing demand for mimetic materials and structural materials has been a major growth driver of the smart materials market in this region. The adoption of new methods in the domains of vibration control, environmental control, and monitoring of structural health is also responsible for the expansion of the smart materials market in this region.
Europe is likely to emerge at the second position. Asia Pacific also promises considerable opportunities. It is expected to emerge as the fastest growing regional segment in the market. The region is home to several flourishing industries such as automotive, information technology, electronics, retail, aerospace and defense.
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Piezo-electric Materials Lead Due to Rising Demand from IT, Robotics
By product, the global market for smart materials has been segmented into thermally responsive materials, biomimetic materials, smart fluids, piezo-electric materials, and smart hydrogels. By revenue, the piezo-electric materials segment was the largest product segment in 2013. The growing demand from the robotics, information technology (IT), and automotive sectors is fuelling this segment. Piezoelectric devices exhibit high responsiveness, high precision, and high torque. As a result, they are increasingly adopted across several areas. The biomimetic materials are also expected to witness rising demand.
By application, transducers, actuators and motors, sports and leisure, structural materials, mechanical structures, sensors, and energy harvesting devices are the key segments of the global market for smart materials. Of these, the actuators and motors segment emerged as the leading segment in the global smart materials market in 2013. The increasing deployment of actuators and motors by a number of end users is propelling the expansion of this application segment. The transducers segment also exhibits great potential for growth. The structural materials are witnessing rising demand from the developed economies of Europe and North America, therefore promising moderate growth.
Channel Technologies Group, LLC, Kyocera Corporation, Advanced Cerametrics, TDK Corporation, CeramTec GmbH, CTS Corporation, APC International, Wright Medical Group, Inc., LORD Corporation, and Noliac A/S are some of the leading vendors operating in the global market for smart materials.