Smart Money is on Smart Coatings
Coatings that self-heal, self-clean, beat back moisture, purify the air and otherwise tune into their environment are set for red-hot growth in the years ahead, a new market forecast predicts.
The 2015 global market for so-called "smart coatings" should top out at about $610 million-with-an-M; by 2020, it should reach $5.8 billion-with-a-B, according to Smart Coatings Markets 2015-2022, published by industry analyst NanoMarkets.
What's So Smart?
Smart coatings are those that sense and respond to environmental stimuli by changing material properties. For example, coatings have been developed to respond to changes in light, temperature, humidity, pressure, electrical current and surface contamination. Often, the coatings performance can even be remotely monitored.
Their applications range from industrial and military protective coatings, to energy efficiency in buildings, to the textile and medical markets.
The U.S. Army, for example, has been working for at least a decade on a multilayer smart coatings system with self-repair, artificial intelligence, sensing package, corrosion inhibitors and other functions that could be customized as needed.
Such coatings will remain on the “leading edge in terms of functionality” over the next eight years, according to NanoMarkets, which sizes up where and when the main opportunities are likeliest in the years ahead.
Green Losing its Grip
Curiously, the long-dominant smart coatings markets—energy and green building applications—are suddenly losing steam.
|© iStock.com / dominiquelandau|
The market value of smart coatings for the energy and green building sectors, such as self-dimming coatings for windows, may take a dip due to the decline in oil prices in 2015.
This winter's plunging oil prices have left NanoMarkets less optimistic than it was a year ago about the prospects for smart coatings in those sectors, which had dominated the market for the past decade.
Now, however, the oil price plummet threatens to curb the booming green tech sector where, for example, self-healing and self-cleaning coatings seemed to have viable applications.
In this new environment, smart coatings companies “will have to tell different marketing stories such as repositioning self-dimming coatings for windows so that they become about aesthetics and mood lighting, not energy saving,” NanoMarkets adds.
Thus, the forecast for the smart coatings business, energy and construction markets will be a mixed bag.
New Technologies, New Markets
The firm also predicts that self-healing, self-assembling and self-cleaning coatings are about to reach lifetimes and performance levels never seen before. As a result, the next generation of these materials will serve much larger markets.
|© iStock.com / YanLev|
Important R&D programs will lead to new smart coatings products and product classes, such as smart multi-layer coatings and smart coatings for air purification, according to the firm.
NanoMarkets says the market for self-healing coatings alone may reach $530 million by 2020.
Important R&D programs will lead to new products and product classes, such as smart multi-layer coatings and coatings for air purification, according to the firm.
“In the future, a smart coating might provide photovoltaic energy generation with inherent self-repair and self-cleaning capabilities,” the company reports.
Commercial opportunities should also crack widely open in the electronics coating market, due to the rise of the so-called “Internet of Things.”
|© iStock.com / Kroljaaa Kroljaaa|
The Internet-of-Things market provides opportunities for smart coatings, the report says.
The idea behind the Internet of Things is that—using embedded sensors and processors—buildings, appliances, machines and objects more generally will become more responsive to human needs, according to the firm.
Current technology focuses on networks of Internet-connected sensors and multiprocessing units.
However, NanoMarkets believes that smart coatings in the Internet of Things “would be a perfect fit.”
“What could be more convenient and save more time than surfaces that clean and repair themselves?” the firm asks.
Thus, revenues from sales of smart coatings into the electronics sector are expected to reach $225 million in 2020.