The conductive ink and conductive paste business is a large market that will generate $1.6 billion in 2014 in revenue at the ink/paste level. This market however is segmented, consisting of many emerging and mature markets. Overall, the market will experience 4.5% CAGR over the coming decade, although growth will be unevenly spread with several target markets experiencing rapid growth while others decline. This represents both opportunities as well as risk for all market participants. At the same time, emerging technologies and alternatives are improving fast too, increasingly becoming price and performance competitive with mature incumbents. This too, coupled with fluctuating base metal prices, suggests that companies must develop the right technology and market strategy to benefit from this changing market landscape.
The photovoltaic sector is a large target market for conductive paste. It however underwent a period of distress characterised by tumbling prices, bankruptcies and consolidation. This was triggered by the rapid expansion of production capacity in China and the simultaneous reduction of subsidies in Europe. In the same period however, other markets such as the touch screen and the automotive (with conductive inks/paste) sectors experienced continued growth while many others remained at a nascent or emerging state. In the background to all this, the financial crisis impacted the price of raw silver (the dominant technology), causing it to increase by 4.5 times between 2009 and 2012. These trends had huge implications for the market, strongly affecting the demand and changing its composition, while generating a global wave of interest in alternatives.
Silver flake paste is mature and thus unlikely to show further performance improvement or cost reduction (unless base metal prices fall). At the same time, silver nanoparticles will improve, particularly as large corporations with capacity and leverage enter the scene. The trend towards alternatives such as copper and silver alloys will also continue, particularly in Japan where many companies offer different migration-free and relatively stable copper pastes and curing techniques. This is despite the fact that the switching motive is now weakened thanks to reducing raw silver prices. Graphene, PEDOT and carbon nanotubes will all find niche applications. For example, graphene is already in the RFID and smart packaging sectors thank to its low cost, fast printing and low curing temperature. Sintering techniques will also change and/or improve with photo-sintering registering particular success as it increases processing speeds and brings compatibility with low-temperature substrates.
Ten year forecast for the conductive ink and conductive paste market
Details of the new report, table of contents and ordering information can be found on Electronics.ca Publications’ web site. View the report: Conductive Ink Markets 2014-2024: Forecasts, Technologies, Players.