Self-lubricating materials are high performance engineering materials that reduce friction and provide lubrication to bearing components. This facilitates smooth functioning of machines. Self-lubricating materials are widely used in various sectors such as consumer electronics, automotive, home appliances, industrial equipment, marine, and machines. These materials offer low friction of coefficient, high wear and corrosion resistance.
Self-lubricating materials possess high compressive strength and chemical resistance. These can be employed in water bearing and high load applications. These materials provide high thermal stability (up to 320oC), thereby eliminating the need for additional exterior lubricating products such as oil or grease. Such products are hazardous to dispose and are expensive; thus, self-lubricating materials provide cost-effective solutions to various end-users compared to grease or oil.
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The global self-lubricating materials market can be characterized in terms of product type. Based on product type, the market can be further classified into plastic and metal-solid lubricant fillers. The plastic segment comprises thermosets and thermoplastic resins such as nylon, polytetrafluroethylene (PTFE), and polyacetals. Thermosets resins lower friction and provide smooth surface; however, these resins wear out rapidly. Thus, the segment is anticipated to lose market share during the forecast period. Nylon and PTFE segments are expected to expand significantly during the forecast period, led by their prime features such as high dimensional stability, high strength, better wear resistance, and long service life.
Metal-solid lubricant filler product type is further split into the following segments: sintered bronze, sintered iron, iron-graphite, and sintered iron-bronze. Sintered bronze is a porous self-lubricating material that comprises tin powder, elemental copper, and pre-alloyed bronze powder. Sintered bronze materials provide high corrosion resistance, wear resistance, and high ductility. Sintered bronze materials are quite expensive and typically used in a wide range of applications such as farm machinery and home appliances. Sintered iron and sintered-bronze are extensively used in machineries that are less susceptible to galvanic corrosion; thus, they are less expensive than sintered bronze. Iron-graphite type contains 3% graphite and is typically employed in the consumer electronics sector. Sintered bronze is a leading product segment; it is anticipated to expand significantly during the forecast period due to its beneficial characteristics and high performance.
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Growth in the automotive industry and increase in demand for self-lubricating materials for the maintenance of machineries in order to increase efficiency and reduce cost are the key factors driving the global self-lubricating materials market. Additionally, increase in focus on quality is estimated to influence manufacturers to opt for quality lubricating materials that provide optimum performance. Furthermore, growth in chemical industry is encouraging manufacturers to invest in quality machines. This, in turn, is projected to create strong business for manufacturers of self-lubricating materials. Rise in research & development activities in the field of bio-based self-lubricating materials is estimated to create substantial opportunities for manufacturers of self-lubricating materials.
Based on region, the global self-lubricating materials market can be segmented into North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Middle East & Africa. In terms of consumption, Asia Pacific is the leading region of the market due to rapid industrialization and urbanization. Growth in the automotive industry and strong foreign direct investment in various sectors such as consumer electronics and chemical industry are expected to boost the self-lubricating market in the region. Latin America is also one of the key consumers of self-lubricating materials. It is followed by Middle East & Africa. Increase in investment by various automakers, especially in GCC, South Africa, and Mexico, is estimated to create immense opportunities for manufacturers of self-lubricating materials. North America and Europe are comparatively mature markets for self-lubricating materials; these regions are likely to expand at moderate pace during the forecast period.
Key players operating in the self-lubricating materials market include LATI Industria Termoplastici S.p.A., Federal-Mogul LLC, TriStar Plastics Corp., and Glebus Alloys, LLC.