Single Crystal Superhard Material Market size is forecast to reach $3.2 billion by 2026, after growing at a CAGR of 3.5% during 2021-2026. A single crystal superhard material such as cubic boron nitride, carbon nitrides, and micron diamond possesses a hardness value exceeding 40 gigapascals when measured by the Vickers hardness test. With high bond covalence and high electron density, these materials are highly incompressible solids. These materials are also commonly used in several industrial areas, including polishing, abrasives, cutting equipment, and coatings that are protective and wear-resistant. The rapid growth of the electronics industry has increased the demand for single crystal superhard material; thereby, fueling the overall market growth. Furthermore, the flourishing building and construction industry is also expected to drive the single crystal superhard material industry substantially during the forecast period.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an immediate impact on the world economy and that impact goes across all industries, including mining. Some delays, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related contingencies, have occurred in underground development, owing to which the mining projects are halted. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, various governments have imposed import and export restrictions on commodities owing to which power generation and mining projects are under suspension. For instance, according to Mexico’s mining chamber, the mining output in the country fell by around 17% in 2020. Besides, the mining operations have been affected through isolated outbreaks and government-mandated shutdown, which is limiting the single crystal superhard material market growth during the pandemic.
Single Crystal Superhard Material Market Segment Analysis – By Type
The diamond segment held the largest share in the single crystal superhard material market in 2020 and is growing at a CAGR of 3.2% during 2021-2026. The only practical instrument material for ultra-precision machining applications is a single crystal diamond. The extreme diamond hardness provides optimum wear resistance and but also allows near-atomically sharp cutting edges to be produced. Diamond exhibits pronounced anisotropy used in the manufacture of ultra-precision instruments, often crystals, are angled so that the (110) plane is addressed to the polishing Scaife to maximize the polishing rate. In addition to the crystal plane, the polishing direction is also important and there are different numbers of “soft” directions in each of the (100), (110), and (111) planes. In addition to the exceptional hardness of the material, the monocrystalline diamond exhibits exceptionally low friction coefficients (of the order of 0.05) on most metals and non-metals, resulting in limited chip adhesion to the cutting edge. All these extensive characteristics of diamonds are the key factor anticipated to boost the demand for single crystal superhard materials during the forecast period.
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Single Crystal Superhard Material Market Segment Analysis – By End-Use Industry
The electrical & electronics segment held the largest share in the single crystal superhard materials market in 2020 and is growing at a CAGR of 3.8% during 2021-2026, owing to the increasing usage of single crystal superhard materials in the electrical & electronics industry. Diamond is emerging as a material for new device applications in the electrical and electronics sector. They are used in the fields of power electronics, quantum computing at room temperature, bio-sensing, bio-interfaces, MEMS, colour centers, and detectors of high energy radiation and particulate matter. For next-generation semiconductor applications, it has superior properties such as the highest electron and hole mobility, the highest strength of electric field breakdown, and a low dielectric constant. In combination with its unmatched thermal conductivity and hardness, it is often employed in the electrical and electronics industry. Thus, the increasing application of single crystal superhard material such as a diamond in the electrical and electronics sector is the major factor driving its demand in the electrical & electronics sector. Further, government initiatives that are flourishing in the electrical and electronics sector are also anticipated to drive the market growth. For instance, the Russian prime minister introduced a Strategy for the Development of the Manufacturing Sector up to 2024 and until 2035, which will eventually drive the single crystal superhard material market.
Single Crystal Superhard Material Market Segment Analysis – By Geography
Asia Pacific region held the largest share in the single crystal superhard material market in 2020 up to 30%, owing to the increasing demand for single crystal superhard material from the electrical and electronics industry in the region. The Chinese government will invest considerable effort to support the electronics industry, particularly the IC manufacturing and design industry, according to China’s National Integrated Circuit Development Promotion Outline. In 2022, the production of ICs in China will increase at an annual average rate of over 14%. India’s share in global electronics manufacturing has grown from 1.3% in 2012 to 3% in 2018, according to Invest India. Moreover, India’s consumer electronics and appliances industry is expected to become the world’s fifth-largest by 2025. India could create an $800 billion to $1 trillion digital economy by 2025, and India’s digital economy could fuel 18-23 percent of overall economic activity by 2025. Thus, with the expanding electronics industry, the demand for single crystal superhard material will also subsequently increase, which is anticipated to drive the single crystal superhard material market in the APAC region during the forecast period.
Single Crystal Superhard Material Market Drivers
Flourishing Power Generation Sector
Population growth and increased industrial activities are growing the worldwide demand for electricity, which is driving the global market for single-crystal super-hard materials as these materials are used in power generation and renewable energy production. The progress of the National Strategic Project Construction in February 2019, namely the Cirebon Power Unit 2, with a capacity of 1 per 1000 MW, has now reached 39 percent and is scheduled to be operational in February 2022. Eni S.p.A plans to begin the production of natural gas from its Merakes offshore project in Indonesia in 2021. Initial natural gas production at Merakes will be 155 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) and will hit a peak output estimate of 391 mmcfd. With the increasing power generation projects, the demand for single crystal superhard material will also substantially increase. Thus, the expanding power generation projects act as a driver for the single crystal superhard material market during the forecast period.
Expanding Mining Sector
Any object can be formed and scratched by single-crystal superhard materials and is therefore used in a wide range of mining applications, such as turning, cutting, grinding, boring, and drilling, which is expected to boost growth. Various mining projects are under a feasibility study and aims to start production shortly after the year 2020. For instance, in March 2017, approval was granted for St Barbara, Gwalia extension project, which extends the life of the Gwalia Gold Mine to at least 2000 meters below the surface. The project is estimated to cost $100 million and, by the end of 2022, it will be constructed with an expected production value of 290,000 ounces gold per year. In addition, in its search to increase ore production by five times from the current level of 4.1 million tonnes (MT) by 2025, Hindustan Copper is focused on re-opening its closed mines and expanding existing ones in India. Thus, it is anticipated that rapid growth in the mining industry would have a positive effect on the market.
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Single Crystal Superhard Material Market Challenges
Super Hard Characteristics of Single Crystal Superhard Materials
Single crystal superhard materials such as diamond are good because there is an abundance of them, and there are producers who can replicate these single-crystal diamonds, owing to which they have become more cost-friendly. However, there is a disadvantage associated with single crystal superhard materials i.e. they are super hard (hardness value exceeding 40 gigapascals when measured by the Vickers hardness test), owing to which they have a low toughness. Further, they chip quickly and need to be sharpened often. All these factors are anticipated to be a significant restrain for the single crystal superhard materials market during the forecast period.
Single Crystal Superhard Material Market Landscape
Technology launches, acquisitions, and R&D activities are key strategies adopted by players in the single crystal superhard material market. Major players in the single crystal superhard material market are Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd., Sandvik Group, ILJIN, Zhongnan Diamond Co., Ltd., Element Six, Whirlwind, SF Diamond, Funik Ultrahard Material Co., Ltd., and Zhengzhou Sino-Crystal Diamond Co., Ltd.
In September 2020, in order to predict superhard materials based on their crystal structure, a group of Skoltech researchers used machine learning (ML) techniques. The model confirmed that diamond is the hardest known material, while suggesting existence of several dozen other potentially very hard or superhard materials.
Asia-Pacific dominates the single crystal superhard material market, owing to the increasing electrical & electronics industry in the region. According to the Electronic Industries Association of India (ELCINA), the total production of the electronics sector in India was Rs 387,525 crore in 2017-18, compared to Rs 317,331 crore in 2016-17, exhibiting a growth of about 22%.
The intrinsic and extrinsic compounds are also normally categorized as superhard materials. Micron diamond, cubic boron nitride, and carbon nitrides are examples of intrinsic compounds, while nanocrystalline diamond is an extrinsic compound.
After diamond, cubic boron is the second hardest material known and is increasingly used today as cutting and drilling tools, to replace diamond-based instruments due to its superior thermal stability and chemical inertness, which is expected to flourish the market growth.
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