The conductive ink market is estimated to grow with a high CAGR of 3.5% from 2013 to 2018. The market caters to various high value industries, such as the photovoltaic, membrane switches, display, EMI shielding, RFID, bio-sensors, and automotive industry. Asia-Pacific is the largest consumer of conductive inks owing to the flourishing electronics industry in the region, followed by Europe and the Americas.
The conductive ink market is expected to have an increasing demand from the display industry with the increase in usage of mobiles, tablets, and PDA’s as well as the development of new technologies, such as OLED, flexible displays, and e-paper display. The markets for the upcoming technologies have been estimated to have a high value in the coming years and will enable displays to be the driving factor for the conductive ink market.
The market has been dominated by the silver-based inks that, over the time, have become expensive. The development of other copper, carbon/graphene, dielectric, and carbon polymer inks has boosted the growth of the conductive ink market and has opened new applications in technologies, such as flexible displays and e-paper. Innovations in the development of nanoparticle, nanotube, and nanowire conductive inks are expected to further increase the demand for conductive inks from the photovoltaic, membrane switches, and most importantly from the display industry.
High investment and associated R&D costs for the production and development of conductive inks, along with the rising prices of silver have been responsible for the restrained growth of this market. Fluctuating demand from the photovoltaic industry due to an inventory surplus has also been identified as a restraint for the market.
The market is primarily dominated by few global players, such as E.I DuPont Microcircuit materials (U.S.), Henkel (Germany), Heraeus (Germany), Fujikura (Japan), and Sun Chemicals (U.S.), among others.
The conductive ink market will be a highly competitive one with the development of new advanced conductive inks targeted for specific applications. The conventional inks, which still command a huge share of the market, are expected to be replaced by the advanced alternatives due to lower costs and higher application specific efficiency. It will be interesting to see how the smaller market players react to this kind of competitive environment.
The development and growth of RFID technology in the packaging industry and EMI shielding in consumer electronics will also hold a huge potential for the growth of the global conductive ink market.