A new report by IDTechEx Conductive Ink Markets 2017-2027: Forecasts, Technologies, Players found the conductive ink/paste industry is in the midst of undergoing major change.
For example, the volume photovoltaic market will do well in the first half of 2017 thanks to the looming end of feed-in-tariff in China meaning this will spell good news even for those companies who had seen their market share decline well below 20 per cent.
However, the industry remains concerned that it may reach peak silver consumption within the next three years in this highly cost competitive market that sees only incremental innovation.
Similarly, the touch screen edge electrode market continues to be shaped by the perennial trend to narrow the bezel.
This trend has already led to the introduction of new photo-patterned and laser-cut pastes to achieve L/S of 20/20.
Such ink innovations have so far enabled printing to remain competitive, but the industry is concerned here too that sputtering will become an even more of a threat in the coming years when the L/S shrinks further.
In fact, such competitive pressures in core markets have seen suppliers adopt a strategy of developing as broad a product portfolio as possible to seed and develop numerous sectors. In fact, multiple new materials and formulations are being developed to satisfy new market requirements in nascent, niche sectors.
These sectors are often characterised by uncertainty, poorly-defined figures-of-merit, and not yet fully fledged value networks.
The target markets are numerous and include e-textile and wearable electronics, EMI shielding, in-mould electronics for automotive and home appliance applications, ITO replacement, digitisers, printed sensors, and so on.
These markets however represent the future growth opportunities. Indeed, IDTechEx Research forecasts that these emerging sectors will grow to nearly become a $USD400m global market by 2027.