Smart Materials Market To Rise To $12.3 Billion In 2010

By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff December 13, 2005

The term smart materials refers to an interesting class of materials that are able to respond dynamically to external stimuli like heat, humidity, ultraviolet light and pressure. Smart materials systems have sensing and actuating functions that are used for an increasing number of engineering and commercial applications.

Currently, the application of smart materials spans most industrial sectors including electronics, medical diagnostics, treatment and surgery, automotive and industrial research processes that require control and sensing.

According to a soon-to-be-released and updated technical market research report, RGB -154N Smart Materials: A Technology and Market Assessment from business communications co., inc. ( , the worldwide smart materials market is estimated at $8.1 billion in 2005 and is expected to rise at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 8.6% to $12.3 billion in 2010. Smart materials studied in this report include piezoelectric, magnetostrictive, electrochromic, thermoresponsive and electrostrictive materials.

Piezoelectric materials, including categories such as crystals, ceramics, polymers and composites are one of the primary categories of smart materials with nearly 50% of the total market. Their smart properties were initially found more than 125 years ago but their first main applications did not arrive until the second half of the last century. Magnetostrictive materials like terfenol-d have recently found their first commercial applications in the consumer market, but the trend is to increase consumption levels. The electronics industry is and would be a major market for magnetostrictive applications. Electrochromic materials, in particular electrochromic glass, found applications mainly in the automotive and architectural industries. Current and future legislation and concern about energy-saving products would help the expansion of these materials. Certain thermoresponsive materials, such as shape memory polymers, receive a slight but increasing market share in the medical market, which has up until now been cornered by shape memory alloys, specifically nitinol. The outlook for electrostrictive materials is a bit more problematic, as they are expensive to produce. Though useful in certain aerospace technologies, it will be difficult to introduce them to certain price-driven mass-markets such as electronics. While the current market for smart materials is worth $8.1 billion, the market for products that use these materials is considerably more-$27.7 billion in 2005 and rising to $52.2 billion in 2010. The electronics industry is the primary producer of commodities using smart materials, with devices like micro-electro mechanical systems (mems), micro-actuators, capacitors, and surface acoustic wave (saw) devices for telecommunication filtering. The forecast period projects that europe and the rest of the world regions will maintain a steady hold on their production of smart materials, although in some material categories both regions will increase market share at the expense of the leading producer regions. The u.s., the current leader in most categories of smart materials production, will remain so through the forecast period. The asia/pacific region will maintain a dominant hold on the production of piezoelectric/electrostrictive materials and steadily gain ground in the production of other materials as well.

Global value of worldwide smart materials and product market, through 2010

($ millions)

2004 2005 2010 AAGR%
Smart materials market 7,478.60 8,117.00 12,251.0 8.6
End-products that use smart materials 23,869.80 27,711.00 52,181.6 13.5
Source: bcc, inc.

The report contains:

  • Examination and definition of the major types of smart materials

  • Analysis of each industry segment and market worldwide with current and projected values through 2010

  • Market analysis for all material categories: piezoelectric, electrostrictive, magnetostrictive, thermoresponsive and rheological fluids

  • Analysis of applications for all sectors: commercial, industrial, medical, research and military

Industry structure and profiles of major producers.