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Thermal spraying is a technology in which a high-temperature heat source is used to melt and accelerate micron-sized ceramics, metals or alloy particles to build a protective coating over industrial machine surface. Molten or partially molten particles spread over the surface of the component until several layers of coating are fabricated. These coatings provide resistance against degradation caused by erosion, corrosion and high temperature. The effectiveness and versatility of these coatings have increased their use in diverse industrial applications in aerospace, automotive, industrial gas turbines, energy and power, electronics, oil and gas, healthcare devices and forestry. The aerospace industry is currently the largest segment in terms of both revenue and volume owing to the large number of application of thermal spray in this industry. These coatings are used in airframe and propulsion for meeting high performance and quality requirements. Some of the major coatings used in the aerospace industry include zirconia based thermal sprays, metal based (MCrAlY) and tungsten carbide based materials.
The global thermal spray market is expected to showcase a significant growth during the forecast period (2017-2023). This market growth can be attributed to the increasing use of thermal spray coating technologies in the aerospace industry. Another factor which is primarily driving the growth of the market includes the use of these technologies in the healthcare industry. Thermal spray coatings are proven to be effective in improving the bio-compatibility and wear-resistance and providing shielding for biomedical equipment. Additionally, for strong and durable anchoring of orthopaedic implants, such as artificial hip joints, surface finish is of great importance. All these factors are responsible for the exponential growth of the market during the forecast period.
The thermal spray market is primarily categorized under coatings, materials and equipment segment. Most of the revenue for the global thermal spray market is generated from the coatings segment. Geographical distribution of the market is heavily concentrated in North America and Europe with North America being the most developed market for thermal spray.
The key trend observed in the study includes the extensive use of thermal spray coating system in the aerospace industry. Thermal spray technology is being adopted by The Boeing Co. since 1968. The company continued to develop thermal spray technology by collaborating with the Hard Chromium Alternative Team activities in the 1900s. As a result, Boeing led the aerospace industry in adapting and utilizing thermal spray technologies as an alternative for hard chromium plating on numerous structural components used in landing gears.
Based on Boeing’s diversified product portfolio (commercial and military aircraft, rotorcrafts, satellite vehicles etc.), the use of thermal spray coatings has gained significant attention, specifically in the past decade. Additionally, it is expected that the commercial airplane market is expected to grow exponentially in the next two decades and with the need for a reliable coating technology, thermal spray coatings market plays a vital role in the development.
With thermal spray, probably more so than any other coatings process, there is almost no limitation in the number of options available to substrate and coating materials combinations. As a result, thermal spray coatings market a lot of potential scope and innovation in it.
The major drivers observed in the study include the extensive use of thermal spray technologies in aerospace and automotive industries. The need of designing the next-generation of environment-friendly and damage-tolerant aircraft effectively can only be achieved by using thermal spray coatings technologies currently. Additionally, in the healthcare industry, thermal spray plays a vital role. The medical implants with the help of these technologies can now be sprayed with porous coatings that encourage the ingrowth of bone, thus enabling implant fixation and minimizing the need for traditional bone cement and screws.
Furthermore, thermal spray HVOF coatings can be used as an alternative to hard chromium plating to provide wear and corrosion protection using pure chromium and various carbide coatings. The characteristics of HVOF coating, in part, exceed those of chromium plate and HVOF processing times are generally shorter than that of chromium based plating. The reflective surface appearance of hard chromium plating can be achieved by grinding and lapping the HVOF coating. An example application where thermal spray is used to replace hard chromium plate is that of aircraft gear components.
The global thermal spray market has not faced any obstacles till now, but the complex technology involved in the usability of the product minimizes the interest of the customers to opt for the technology.
The global thermal spray market has a lot of potential scope in it. The major players in the thermal spray market are adopting significant competitive strategies such as merger, acquisitions and joint ventures to hold a competitive stance in the global market. For instance, in November 2015, Oerlikon acquired the advanced ceramics (includes about 7% of thermal spray market in it) business unit of Laser Cladding Services, LLC. Additionally, other prominent manufacturers in the industry are undergoing continuous R&D to come up with cutting-edge advancement in the industry. Some of the key players in the global thermal spray market include Oerlikon Metko, HC Starck, Fujimi and Praxair.
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