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Silver Inks and Pastes Markets - 2011
Nano-301

Published December 2010 © NanoMarkets, LC

NanoMarkets, LC PO Box 3840 Glen Allen, VA 23058 Tel: 804-360-2967 Web: www.nanomarkets.net

NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-360-2967 | FAX: 804-360-7259

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Chapter One: Introduction
1.1 Background to this Report

The high cost of silver has become increasingly painful to users in the electronics industry over the past year. Silver has always been an expensive metal, but such users have often been persuaded not to use silver alternatives (such as copper, carbon or aluminum) by the fact that silver is the world’s most conductive material. This physical fact won’t change, but as the price of silver rises, the incentive for users to move to non-silver products can only increase. In fact, at the present time, some of the worst nightmares for silver ink manufacturers and their customers are coming true, with silver prices increasing 50 percent in 2010 alone. At the time of writing, silver is nearing $30 per ounce and the upward price trend seems all but certain to continue. Such silver prices, combined with the high cost-consciousness of the device manufacturers that use silver inks and pastes, mean that silver ink and paste suppliers are being squeezed tightly in their margins. The prospects of inflation consequent to government monetary policies in major nations throughout the world can only make prospects for the future worse. Nonetheless, having studied the market for silver inks and pastes for five years now, NanoMarkets believes that any substitution away from silver inks and pastes will occur at the margin; there will be no wholesale abandonment of such inks and pastes. Silver is entrenched in the conductive printing market simply because it is, without any reasonable dissension, the best material for the job. In most cases, users of silver inks and pastes can’t do much more than reduce waste and shop around for the lowest-cost suppliers that fill their needs. But that doesn’t mean that makers of other conductive inks won’t keep offering substitutes for silver. Copper, carbon, and aluminum will continue to vie for portions of the printed conductor market, with renewed vigor in some cases, as they seek to offer less-costly alternatives to ever-more-expensive silver. And in some cases they will succeed in penetrating further into these markets, although typically as a complement to silver rather than as a complete replacement. Combination inks—combining silver and carbon or silver and copper, for instance—can offer modest savings when the highest level of performance isn’t critical. Such combination materials have been around for many years.

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1.1.1 Nanosilver: The Answer to High Silver Prices? Or Still an Academic Effort?

One highly-publicized—and highly researched—approach to “using less” silver has been to use nanosilver-based inks and pastes in place of the conventional “micro” silver that makes up the vast majority of the market. Page | 2 The thinking here, of course, is that nanoparticles of silver contain less “inactive” silver in the center of the particles, and hence equivalent conductivity can be achieved with much less material. But while the science supports this approach to some extent, nanosilver has still not taken off as many have hoped it would. We note, in particular, that the markets that the manufacturers of nanosilver inks and pastes promised to penetrate a few years ago are still using little nanosilver; or none at all. Part of the problem seems to be that the savings from using less silver are largely—sometimes completely—eaten up by the higher cost of the nanosilver itself, let alone the changes in design and equipment that are needed to use it. And after a while, nanosilver ink makers can only begin to lose credibility, if they haven’t already done so. But like the producers of silver substitutes, nanosilver ink developers and suppliers are also emboldened by the rising cost of silver. With (proportionately) smaller quantities of silver being used in nanosilver preparations, the rising price of silver has a much smaller impact on the cost of nanosilver inks and pastes than it does on conventional silver paste. This enhances nanosilver inks’ value position as a conventional silver replacement; in some sense it narrows the gap between nanosilver and conventional silver inks and pastes. And to some extent the old arguments for nanosilver still remain intact; these include that nanosilver makes sense where screen printing is unsuitable and/or where inkjet provides significant benefits. So which will it be? Can nanosilver ink costs come down enough that conventional silver paste users will consider it a reasonable alternative to thick-film? Or will the economic uncertainty and risk aversion that typify the current age cause device manufacturers to settle in with the conventional silver materials they are already comfortable with, leaving nanosilver largely as a research material with some industrial niches? This report examines these questions, but part of the answer appears apparent in the growing interest in nanosilverbased inks in the important transparent conductor market, poised to become a major niche for nanosilver inks, although admittedly of a rather different kind and from different suppliers than were prominent a few years back.

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1.1.2 Applications for Silver Inks and Pastes: Where is the Growth?

Beyond nanosilver and transparent conductors, where else can silver and silver ink suppliers expect to find significant growth opportunities over the next eight years? The photovoltaics (PV) industry is clearly one growth market for silver, simply because it is growing so rapidly compared to other applications for silver inks and pastes; this is despite the fact that PV has apparently moved past its period of hypergrowth. This segment of the silver inks and pastes market is already approaching a billion dollars in annual revenues and will grow faster—in absolute terms—than any of the other silver ink categories. In fact, by the end of the forecast period it will challenge the traditional thick-film applications for dominance of the printed silver market. While we expect the PV market to continue to grow at a decent pace through the period covered by this report, it should be noted that the growth of this market has been spurred largely by government subsidies—many of which are certainly seeming more and more likely to be discontinued or at least seriously limited within the next several years—so there is a significant level of risk in this market. Certainly PV has come a long way in reducing costs and improving performance in the last few years, but the ending of subsidies in some geographies has been proven to significantly curtail the growth of PV in those areas. Poised for more rapid growth in relative terms—though not as great in absolute terms—is the OLED lighting market, where a wide opening in the conventional lighting market in the next few years—as incandescent lighting becomes increasingly restricted—will be partially filled by this new and different technology. And with OLED lighting comes the need for printed silver, mainly in the form of bus bars, to prevent visible brightness gradients due to the significant voltage drops across long spans of (less) conductive transparent electrodes. This is, incidentally, also a fertile market for nanosilver inks as the transparent conductors themselves, with some important developments that have happened within the past year. Silver inks and pastes also appear to have an important role to play in the development of the RFID market, where cost sensitivity is such that volumes of billions of units will be dependent on penny-sized differences in unit cost. Here, the quandary is how to reduce costs to the level needed for RFID tags to become ubiquitous. For the relatively large antennas used in some types of RFID tags, silver for inks is more expensive than copper materials-wise, but printing them—which requires silver inks—seems the best way to minimize the overall cost of the tags. The question is whether the silver used keeps them from achieving their cost roadmap. Here a full range of cost-saving options are on the table, from combination inks to nanosilver.

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While the applications just mentioned, and a few others, face rapid growth rates over the next eight years, the conventional screen-printed thick-film applications—things like membrane switches, capacitors, and printed circuit boards—present a more stable, high-volume market for silver pastes. But even though the maturity of this segment makes volume growth prospects lackluster, this segment still forms by far the majority of the silver inks and pastes market and thus yields some significant niche opportunities. And even without high volume growth, increases in silver prices will still drive substantial revenue growth.
1.1.3 The Silver Market

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The ongoing rise in silver prices is not due to unexpected growth in demand for silver inks and pastes or because of any shortage of the metal. Rather, silver has been pushed upward as a result of the uncertain economic environment; it is one of the “hard” assets that investors have been shifting to as a hedge against monetary worries. Indeed, silver prices have increased with the emergence of silver ETFs in the past several years as those funds have accumulated silver simply as a store of value rather than to be put to use industrially. Current times have accelerated this trend toward hard investment. One must also consider that, from a U.S. perspective a decline in the value of the dollar means that it takes more dollars to buy an ounce of silver. And there is good reason to believe that silver prices have still higher to go. With all of the money that has been—and continues to be—pumped into the world economy in the past two years in efforts to head off a true depression, to avoid deflation, and to boost stagnant growth conditions, eventually this can reasonably be expected to result in inflationary conditions. And while this is certainly a worldwide phenomenon, U.S. inflation is particularly a concern for dollar-denominated silver. What the increasing price of silver will do to the markets for silver inks and pastes is a key focus of this report.
1.2 Objectives and Scope of this Report

This report analyzes the use of silver in the electronics industry, among the applications that use—or are likely to use—the greatest volumes of it. This analysis is carried out taking consideration of the forces that shape the silver market—and specifically the silver inks and pastes market—and also those that shape the individual applications markets. To thoroughly assess the markets for silver inks and pastes, analysis on two often-interrelated levels is required. From the perspective of silver ink technology, the materials themselves must be evaluated, including an assessment of existing materials, materials under research and development, and the types of innovations likely to be tried and used. They also must be considered in light of competing materials and approaches, whether they use completely
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different materials in place of silver or they combine silver with some other material—or otherwise enhance silver’s performance while using less. To perform this “supply-side” assessment, the activities of the silver ink suppliers—including an independent assessment of their likely success and the growth and timing of their products—is required and performed. This materials-based analysis is important but is only one level of our study. The products cannot be successful without viable markets, and we also assess the “demand-side” of the markets by evaluating the applications for silver inks. We consider each of the applications by considering the anticipated growth of the application, the quantity and form of silver inks currently used, the likely changes in silver ink penetration and in the type of silver ink material and printing processes used, and the potential alternatives to silver inks that may make some market penetrations. Our supply-side and demand-side analyses are necessarily interrelated to an extent because of the strong dependence between supply and demand in the actual marketplace. The forecasts for the applications areas for silver inks in this report are based on a foundation of NanoMarkets’ forecasts of the underlying industries undertaken within the past year. These are further developed and customized with our extensive technical expertise concerning the physical and materials needs of electronics manufacturing and products. The ongoing economic turmoil that impacts nearly all aspects of global industry certainly affects both the applications markets and the choices of silver and other materials used for devices, and these factors are also taken into consideration. The primary objective of this report is to translate these analyses into a thorough examination of the opportunities for silver inks and pastes and for the firms that produce them. This analysis includes both technical issues—what evolving silver ink formulations are likely to do for cost, throughput, and performance—and business ones—notably the applications in which silver inks and pastes will, or already do, find sizeable markets, and where the opportunities lie in these segments. A separate but related goal of this report is to provide detailed forecasts of the markets for silver inks and pastes both in volume terms and in monetary terms, from the view of the different ink types and their various applications. The uncertain economy makes such an analysis difficult at best, but that is what we have attempted to do, using the building blocks discussed above. The measures used in the analysis and in the forecasts contained in this report are in terms of quantities of silver (troy ounces) and in dollars of revenue. In order to provide a consistent measure between different kinds of silver materials, the revenues are measured at the level
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of the silver itself, in the grade and purity required for producing the inks and pastes used in electronics. In some cases, as appropriate, we have also reported and analyzed revenues at the level of silver ink and paste materials. This report is international in scope. The forecasts are worldwide forecasts and we have not been geographically selective in the firms that we have covered in the report or interviewed in order to collect information.
1.3 Methodology of this Report

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The information for this work is derived from a variety of sources, but principally comes from primary sources, including NanoMarkets’ ongoing interview program of entrepreneurs, business development and marketing managers, and technologists involved with silver materials and emerging electronics of all kinds. We also drew on an extensive search of the technical literature, relevant company Web sites, trade journals, government resources, and various collateral items from trade shows and conferences. Some of the applications-related market information in this report comes from our most recent reports on the covered applications areas. Reports from which some data have been shared include “Thin-Film Photovoltaics Materials Markets, 2011 and Beyond,” from November 2010; “Silver in Photovoltaics: 2010,” from September 2010; and “OLED Lighting Materials Market Trends and Impact,” from October 2010. In addition, some of the historical information on silver and silver inks/pastes has been carried over from the last version of this report, “Silver Inks and Pastes: 2009 to 2016,” from November 2009. Where information has been used in an earlier report, it has been reinvestigated, reanalyzed, and reconsidered in light of current developments and updated accordingly. The forecasting approach used in this report is explained in more detail in Chapter Five, but the basic approach taken here is to identify and quantify the underlying application markets, the materials needs that are or can be served by silver, and the technological and market pressures that affect silver’s penetration into these markets. We consider the specific needs of the various applications and the types of products that are available or under development, in addition to broader economic developments that impact the markets for each application area and for silver. The stated plans of the key firms are of course of special interest, although NanoMarkets critically considers these claims in light of all available data.
1.4 Plan of this Report

In Chapter Two, we examine the silver ink and paste materials that are used in the electronics industry; the innovations and strategies taken by ink and paste suppliers to reduce cost,

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increase performance, and customize materials to specific uses; and the materials that are used or likely to emerge as partial substitutes for silver in inks and pastes. In Chapter Three, we discuss the applications and markets for silver inks and pastes, covering photovoltaics, displays, OLED lighting, RFID, and sensors. We also discuss the traditional thickfilm applications for printed silver and identify the opportunities that still exist in this mature market. In Chapter Four we discuss the profiles and strategies of the major suppliers of silver inks and pastes of various types, and Chapter Five contains our eight-year forecasts of silver inks and pastes used in the electronics industry. These forecasts are presented by application and by type of silver ink/paste. For information on how to acquire this report, please visit our website at www.nanomarkets.net or contact us at sales@nanomarkets.net or (804) 360-2967.

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Table of Contents:
Executive Summary E.1 Changes since NanoMarkets’ last report E.1.1 Silver ink markets and the worldwide business slump E.1.2 Silver prices and silver ink economics E.2 Growth opportunities for thick-film silver: Are there any? E.3 Beyond pastes: “Next-generation” silver ink and paste products E.3.1 Nanosilver: Will the markets ever arrive? E.3.2 Silver inks for transparent conductive films: Silver vs. ITO? E.4 Opportunities for silver inks/pastes in photovoltaics: Is the excitement still there? E.5 Opportunities for silver inks/pastes in lighting and displays E.6 Opportunities in sensors for silver inks/pastes: is the market too fragmented? E.7 Opportunities in RFID: Is silver cheap enough? E.9 Summary of eight-year forecasts of silver ink markets Chapter One Introduction 1.1 Background to this report 1.2 Objectives and scope of this report 1.3 Methodology of this report 1.4 Plan of this report Chapter Two Silver Inks and Pastes: Technology and Product Developments

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2.1 Thick-film silver pastes 2.1.1 Strategies for reducing the cost of thick-film silver pastes 2.1.2 Competitive alternatives to thick film silver pastes 2.1.3 A role for nanosilver pastes? 2.2 Nanosilver inks 2.2.1 How do nanosilver inks compete with traditional pastes? 2.2.2 Which markets are nanosilver inks good for? 2.2.3 Nanosilver and inkjet: reality or a printed electronics pipedream 2.2.4 Pricing of nanosilver inks 2.3 Silver hybrid inks and pastes 2.3.1 Prospects for carbon/silver hybrids 2.3.2 Prospects for copper/silver hybrids 2.3.3 Prospects for silver in transparent conductors 2.4 Environmental, health, and safety concerns with silver inks 2.4.1 Nanosilver concerns 2.4.2 Lead in silver inks 2.5 Significant innovations in ink and paste manufacturing 2.6 Key points in this chapter Chapter Three Application and Markets for Silver Inks 3.1 Photovoltaics 3.1.1 Crystalline silicon PV: Are there alternatives to silver? 3.1.2 TFPV and OPV: Silver’s future in low-cost PV 3.2 Displays: LCD and next-generation displays 3.2.2 Printed silver for display backplanes 3.2.2 Frontplanes, silver and transparent electrodes 3.2.3 Silver and plasma displays: silver and the slow death of plasma 3.3 OLED lighting 3.3.1 Bus bars 3.3.2 Transparent electrodes 3.3.3 Silver in EL lighting? 3.4 RFID 3.4.1 Silver for RFID antennas and interconnects 3.4.2 Is silver too expensive for RFID? 3.5 Sensors 3.5.1 Where are the sweet spots for silver ink/paste makers? 3.6 Remaining opportunities in traditional thick-film applications for printed silver 3.6.1 Membrane switches 3.6.2 PCBs 3.6.3 Capacitors 3.6.3 Automotive heaters 3.6.4 Other 3.7 Key points in this chapter

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Chapter Four Silver Ink Suppliers: Analysis of Strategies and Recent Developments Companies analyzed will be chosen from the following companies: 4.1 Advanced Nano Products (ANP) 4.2 Aremco Products 4.3 Bayer MaterialScience 4.4 Cambrios 4.5 CIMA NanoTech 4.6 Creative Materials 4.7 DuPont 4.8 Ercon 4.9 ESL Electroscience 4.10 Ferro 4.11 Five Star Technologies 4.12 Harima Chemical 4.13 Henkel Electronics 4.14 Heraeus 4.15 InkTec 4.16 Methode Development Company 4.17 NanoMas 4.18 NovaCentrix 4.19 Parelec 4.20 PChem Associates 4.21 Sun Chemical 4.22 Ted Pella 4.23 Umicore 4.24 Xerox 4.25 Overview of small suppliers of silver paste in Asia Chapter Five Eight-Year Forecasts of Silver Inks and Pastes Markets 5.1 Forecasting methodology 5.1.1 Data sources 5.1.2 Scope of forecast 5.1.3 Alternative scenarios 5.1.4 Pricing of silver and silver inks 5.2 Forecasts of silver ink and paste markets by application 5.2.1 Photovoltaics 5.2.2 Displays 5.2.3 Solid-state lighting 5.2.4 RFID 5.2.5 Sensors 5.2.6 Traditional thick-film applications 5.3 Forecasts of silver ink markets by ink type 5.3.1 Screen printing with conventional and nanosilver pastes 5.3.2 Jetted inks: nanosilver and conventional

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5.3.3 Inks for flexo and gravure: Conventional and nano 5.3.4 Inks for conductive coatings 5.4 Summary of market forecasts Abbreviations and Acronyms Used in this Report About the Author

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