Conductive Ink Market – Opportunities And Challenges

The conductive inks market size is projected to reach USD 3,981 million by 2024, at a CAGR of 4% between 2019 and 2024.

How is the development of cheaper alternatives to silver-based conductive inks creating opportunity for the market growth?

There is a need for more economical alternatives to silver-based conductive inks owing to the rising prices of silver. Graphene-based conductive inks have come up as an alternative. Graphene is a single layer of carbon atoms and is the most conductive form of carbon. It can provide mechanical flexibility and high performance at a low cost and can help in protecting metals from corrosion. It can be used in complex devices to achieve high conductivity even at intricate levels.

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Conductive inks are mainly made by using materials such as silver, copper, and carbon. Silver is highly conductive, but expensive, whereas copper is cheaper, but is more prone to oxidation. On the other hand, graphene is a beneficial alternative for these materials and can deliver the same properties at much cheaper rates. Graphene-based conductive inks can readily compete with silver-based and carbon-based conductive inks in applications such as displays and RFID antennae.

The use of graphene-based conductive inks is still in the development stage and is likely to be commercialized in the future. Various companies are resorting to this alternative to offer effective solutions for both price and performance, thereby, creating an opportunity for the manufacturers

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How is high cost of silver-based conductive inks challenging the market growth?

Silver is one of the most widely used metals in the electronics industry because of its high conductivity, oxidation stability, and other unique properties. However, the fluctuations in silver prices have created a shift toward low-cost conductive metals such as copper, carbon, graphene, and aluminum. The increased cost of silver has generated a need to either reduce the use of expensive materials or replace them. However, the properties of the alternatives that are being offered are marginally at par with silver. A complete replacement of silver with alternative materials is impossible.

In order to reduce the effect of rising silver prices, conventional silver conductive inks are being replaced with other inks such as silver flakes and nanosilver-based inks. These inks provide equivalent conductivity; however, the quantity of silver used is relatively lesser than conventional conductive inks. In spite of these advantages, the use of nanosilver inks has not yet gained an impetus. The technology and tools required for their use add to the cost of the inks, which is much higher than that of the traditional silver inks and pastes.

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The manufacturers are developing substitutes for silver-based conductive inks as the prices of silver are expected to increase in the future. Although these substitutes have less growth opportunities owing to their inferior properties, they can be improved to meet the requirements in the long run.