April 18, 2008

Mineweb: Silver conductive inks market will triple over next 8 years

A new group of applications is emerging for silver inks, which is capturing the attention of businesses, that have ignored silver for years.

Author: Dorothy Kosich
Posted: Tuesday , 15 Apr 2008


The market for silver conductive inks will almost triple over the next eight years to reach $2.4 billion by 2015, industry analysts NanoMarkets predicts.

In their report, "Silver Inks and Pastes for Printable Electronics: 2008-2015," NanoMarkets said businesses "are suddenly sitting up and taking notice of opportunities in the silver ink business, when they haven't paid made attention to this kind of material in years."

The report covers the future of both conventional inks and pastes and new nanosilver inks.

Printed electronics are attracting attention as an opportunity for conductive silver inks, according to the study. "Since silver is the best conductor known to man (especially since its oxide is also conductive), silver conductive inks immediately assume a pre-eminence in the pursuit of PE."

During the past year, the report found there may be immediate ways ahead for silver ink makers in the printable materials market. "One of these is to focus on aligning their inks with the move to flexo and gravure, which is beginning to occur as the printed electronics industry ramps up to a full production model. The other is to focus their marketing on selling inks for RFID antennas and (to a lesser extent), solar panels since these are markets that claim both that they have considerable growth potential and that they are already a real business (unlike many applications in the new PE).

The biggest opportunity in the demand for silver inks "will be found in the RFID space where revenues from silver inks for RFID antennas alone will exceed $880 million by 2015. Based on the current excitement surrounding alternative energy, NanoMarkets expect the use of silver inks for solar panel contacts to grow to almost $250 million by 2015."

However, the report also warns that the "biggest challenge to the future of silver's use in electronics is undoubtedly its high cost. This is one reason that the traditional semiconductor industry has never seriously considered using silver for interconnects. Silver ink sales in the printable electronics business are also hurt by high prices. And with the price of silver almost doubling over the past year, this has really become an issue."

Nevertheless, NanoMarkets also noted that silver prices seem to be on their way down, "so perhaps price issues will not matter as much in the next year or so."

The report forecasts that nanosilver inks will comprise almost 21% of total ink sales by 2012, "driven by their high conductivity and ability to be cured at low temperatures. The latter will be especially important given the growing role of thermally sensitive flexible substrates."

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