Glass & Ceramics: changingfacade style

Glass & Ceramics: changing the facade of style

10:23 AM, 8th November 2016
Ceramics and glass has undergone a huge change in the recent times in order to explore new areas of application.
Ceramics and glass has undergone a huge change in the recent times in order to explore new areas of application.

The global industry of glass and ceramics is at its all-time high. The rise in some of the biggest sectors, such as construction, healthcare, automotive etc. has carried the glass and ceramics industry in its stride. With this increase in demand, the industry is now working towards broadening its application areas and bringing in new trends in the market.

By Debarati Das

The glass and ceramics industry have been riding on the growth of other sectors. With a global boom in the construction industry, glass and ceramics have witnessed major growth too. According to Research and Markets report, the global glass ceramics market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.1 percent from 2016-2020. However, this growth has also brought in a fierce competition in the market demanding the industry to offer quality and innovation to its global customers.

Although rising construction and infrastructure projects have given a major boost to the glass and ceramics market, the industry is not restricted to floor tiles and sanitary ware. It finds a host of applications in various industries such as pipes, bricks, cookware, tableware, pottery products, gas and fire radiants, kiln linings, glass and steel crucibles, knife blades, disc brakes in vehicles, watch cases, biomedical implants and much more. It is increasingly being used in residential spaces, restaurants, offices, malls and resorts and industrial sectors - all of which are growing at a drastic pace.

Market Dynamics

In the glass industry, a Lucintel report suggests that the global flat glass industry is expected to reach an estimated $66.6 billion by 2019 driving the growth of automotive and construction industries. The report further points out that OEMs are now switching to insulated glazing from single glazing units due to the growing demand of energy efficient glasses. Industry players have also introduced solar control glazing and lightweight glazing which is changing the dynamics of the glass industry globally. Electronics industry is also witnessing a major shift in demand with a new range of display glasses for the burgeoning market of television, mobile handset and other products.

“The requirements for emerging display technologies, in both TV and mobile applications, will place greater demands on glass performance. To meet these requirements, we’re providing our customers with additional glass substrate options to ensure they have the right product to meet current and emerging display requirements,” said Chris Hudson, commercial director, Corning Display Technologies.

The drastic rise in industrialisation and urbanisation has resulted in growing demand for commercial as well as residential buildings in the emerging economies such as India, China, Brazil and South Asian countries, giving ceramic industry new growth prospects. According to the WinterGreen Research report, the ceramics market forecasts indicates that the $296.2 billion market will reach $502.8 billion by 2020 in response to the growth in every industry as they achieve efficiency in a manufacturing process and renewable energy. Technological advancement in a manufacturing of ceramic tiles and availability of abundant raw materials in these economies have also contributed in the growth of ceramic tiles market.

The major ceramic segments include roof tiles, floor tiles, bricks, sanitary pottery, ceramic insulation, glass, cement, and refactory clay bricks. However, floors tile captures the largest product segment of ceramic tiles market. Wall tile is expected to be the second leading segment in the global ceramic tiles market followed by other products like table tops, facades, counter tops etc. exhibiting significant growth in the coming years.

With the potential to be used as a substitute for paints, demand for ceramic tiles used for a residential replacement has increased its market share owing to the fact that various new patterns and nature emulating tile patterns are being majorly accepted by customers globally.

Trend Setters

The growth of an industry is market by the way it re-innovates itself. Ceramics and glass have undergone a huge change in the recent times in order to explore new areas of application.

Ceramics in health care industry:

Rising demand for implantable devices for surgical methods is giving a major boost to the medical ceramics market, which is projected to reach $16.3 billion by 2020, with a CAGR of 6.4 percent between 2015 and 2020, according to Research and Markets report. Dental and orthopaedic implants are the key application areas of medical ceramics. They are being used in therapeutic treatment of cancer and related diseases and in dialysis due to their high biocompatibility. It is also being used in surgical & diagnostic instruments and implantable electronic devices. China, India, Indonesia, and Brazil are the fastest-growing market for medical ceramics along with US, Germany, Italy and France.

Factors such as a rise in urban population with disposable income, increased awareness about health care, a rise in cosmetic & plastic surgeries, increasing cardiovascular diseases, increasing ageing population, rising cases of hip & knee replacement procedures, coupled with increasing research activities in Asia Pacific is triggering the growth of this market.

Dental Implants: Since ceramics has high mechanical strength, excellent biocompatibility, tribological properties and dimensional stability, it is the ideal material preferred for dental implants. More advanced and specialised ceramics are fast replacing bio-metals in dental treatments.

Nanophase materials: Nanophase materials are increasingly being used for the production of high-strength compact composite coatings for advanced implants. With a lot of research taking place in this field, manufacturers too are investing substantially in developing advanced nanophase ceramics for diagnostic devices and implantable electronic devices.

Due to the unique properties of nanophase ceramics, it is being used in various applications like drug delivery where slow degradation of ceramics allows for longer release of the drug at targeted cells; and bone substitution & regeneration where rougher surfaces and increased surface area of nanophase ceramics promotes reactivity and absorption of proteins assisting in tissue development.

Medical packaging: With the rise of nanomedicines, the role of glass has been redefined in medical capsuling and packaging. SCHOTT recently launched SCHOTT Vials Delamination Controlled (DC)- a new pharmaceutical vials that minimise the risk of delamination. In delamination, the glass surface and the drug formulation react under certain circumstances and delaminate over time and tiny glass flakes can then be seen in the solution.

“SCHOTT Vials DC can also be used for drugs that have already been approved without requiring costly re-registration. They minimise the risk of product recalls and make a major contribution to patient safety,” said Andreas Reisse, executive vice president, SCHOTT’s Pharmaceutical Systems Business Unit.

Glass Ceramics in Construction:

In this segment, CaO-Al2O3-SiO2 system is gaining competence as construction materials. Glass-ceramics are attractive materials used in various applications such as building materials, cooking ceramics, machinable ceramics, bioceramics, optical materials etc. CaO-Al2O3-SiO2 system is significant, due to its special durability and mechanical properties. They are widely being used for abrasion and chemically resistant parts or floor and wall tile in the chemical, mechanical, construction, and heavy industries.

According to reports, APAC region dominates the glass ceramics market, with India and China as the biggest markets, and will generate revenues of over $5 billion by the end of 2020. There is also an increasing use of sol-gel technology in glass ceramics.

Ceramic Tiles art: The global ceramic tile market alone is expected to reach $125.32 billion by 2020, according to Grand View Research Inc. Not just the rise in construction activity, but there has been a drastic upgrade in the interior designing sense of the customers globally. This has led to an upsurge in tile patterns and designs. Apart from new construction activities, residential replacement is one of the largest growth areas where customers and revamping their houses to be aligned with the latest trends.

“We are seeing an increase in refurbishments. Ceramics is now a design-orientated, fashion-led product, with trends changing constantly and fashion conscious customers no longer want to wait 5-10 years to replace their tiles or sanitary ware, but change them more regularly to keep their interiors and exteriors looking fresh and modern,” said Abdallah Massaad, CEO, RAK Ceramics.

The global tiles industry has showcased some of the rarest trends of all times. Floor tile has become a replacement for hardwood and other flooring options due to high durability and low maintenance. Replacing paint, wall tiles today come in the most exquisite patterns.

Some of the latest patterns trending this year include: mix and match of fragmented tiles giving kaleidoscope effect, brick wall effect, rustic and painted wood patterns, 3-D linear designs, street art, pop art or classic art engulfing an entire wall, distressed and tactile effects of sandblasted marble, stripped wood and fabric etc. Aquatic and marine palette of green and blues are being widely used in bathroom decors this year.

Challenges Faced

The glass and ceramics industry is infested with various challenges in its growth path.

• The cost of manufacturing: Glass and Ceramics is an energy-intensive market. Availability of raw materials and high costs of energy and limited access to cheap fuels has had an impact on the competitiveness of the industry in the global market.

• Environmental Concerns: The manufacturing of ceramics and glasses is surrounded by are a range of environmental concerns such as the need to heat kilns up to 2000°C, high emission of carbon dioxide and harmful dust, impact on the ecology and health of works etc. There is a need for high-end research to implement technologies and techniques in ceramics production that minimises energy use by kilns and reduces environmental degradation.

• Fierce competition: While major global players are changing the trends of the industry, increasing the number of local manufacturers who make inferior quality products along with import of low-cost ceramics products from emerging economies is hampering the growth of the industry.

High-quality production processes assured logistics systems for fast delivery and development of innovative products and trends in the industry is the much-needed impetus for the glass and ceramics industry to make the most of the global market dynamics.

© Chemical Today Magazine


See the Story Coverage in Chemical Today magazine (Pg 30)



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