Conductive Ink Markets: Growth in Emerging Printed Electronics Applications Drives Growth
23 November 2022: IDTechEx’s newly released report “Conductive Ink Markets 2023-2033” comprehensively explores this crucial material technology that underpins both photovoltaics and the emerging field of printed electronics. Based on interviews with 30+ companies, the report assesses the market for each of the 8 different conductive ink types across 15 different applications. Conductive ink types include flake-based silver, nanoparticle-based silver, copper, stretchable/thermoformable and particle-free, while applications include photovoltaics, multiple types of printed sensors, flexible hybrid electronics (FHE), in-mold electronics (IME) and RFID/smart packaging. The market as a whole is currently valued at US$2.7 billion and is forecast to grow to US$4.5 billion by 2033, with all this growth coming from emerging applications across printed/flexible/wearable electronics rather than from silicon photovoltaics.
Primary insight from interviews with individual players, ranging from established players to innovative start-ups, is included via over 30 detailed company profiles that include discussion of both technology and business model along with SWOT analysis. Additionally, the report includes analysis of conductive ink parameter space based on a database of over 100 conductive inks that includes curing time, conductivity, and viscosity. Together with the segmentation of suppliers by ink type, this should assist in gaining a comprehensive picture of the global conductive ink market.
Flake-based conductive inks are a longstanding technology widely used for metalizing the upper surface of photovoltaic panels for charge extraction. However, this market is unlikely to keep up with the growth in PV panels, with new technologies developing to reduce the amount of silver ink required. Instead, much of the growth will come from emerging applications across the printed flexible electronics space.
Broadening of the application space creates opportunities for emerging conductive ink formulations that aim to meet specific application requirements:
- Particle-free conductive inks are metalized in situ, producing a smooth, thin conductive layer ideally suited to high-frequency EMI shielding and antennas. The very low viscosity also makes these inks ideally suited to high-resolution deposition techniques such as aerosol printing
- Nanoparticle-based conductive inks offer higher conductivity, enabling more compact circuit designs
- Liquid metal gel makes an ideal stretchable ink since there is no increase in resistance over time – the conductive liquid flows to accommodate the dimensional change. It is primarily targeted at wearable strain sensors
- Copper-based inks with additives that prevent oxidation during sintering. These are gaining significant traction, with major electronics manufacturers running qualification projects. Copper inks are especially suitable where cost is the main driver, such as RFID/smart packaging antennas