NanoMarkets

www.nanomarkets.net

Silver Flake and Powder Market to Grow Despite High Silver Prices
A NanoMarkets White Paper

Published September 2011 © NanoMarkets, LC

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

NanoMarkets
www.nanomarkets.net

Entire contents copyright NanoMarkets, LC. The information contained in this report is based on the best information available to us, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. NanoMarkets, LC and its author(s) shall not stand liable for possible errors of fact or judgment. The information in this report is for the exclusive use of representative purchasing companies and may be used only by personnel at the purchasing site per sales agreement terms. Reproduction in whole or in any part is prohibited, except with the express written permission of NanoMarkets, LC.

Page | 2

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

NanoMarkets
www.nanomarkets.net

Silver Flake and Powder Market to Grow Despite High Silver Prices
Although the market for silver powder and flake products had been buffeted by rising silver prices, opportunities do exist for suppliers able to offer customized high quality powders and flakes, valueadded nanosilvers, and lower-cost yet high-performance silver-coated hybrid materials. In a newly released report, NanoMarkets, a leading provider of market research and analysis of the opportunities in advanced materials and emerging energy and electronics markets, estimates the value of the silver powder and flake market to be $8.7 billion in 2011 and expects it will increase to $16.35 billion by 2018. Page | 3

Summary: Value of Silver Materials by Application 2011-2018 ($ Millions)
18,000 16,000 14,000 12,000 10,000 8,000 6,000 4,000 2,000 0 2011 2012 © NanoMarkets, LC 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Flakes & Powders for PV Inks Silver Brazing and Cold Silver Solder Fillers Flakes & Powders for Conductive Adhesives Nanosilver in Inks, Pastes, and Adhesives Nanosilver in Antimicrobial Applications

Flakes & Powders for Silver Inks and Pastes (Excluding PV)

Year

NanoMarkets says that silver powders and flakes mainly find use in conductive pastes and adhesives for electronics applications, photovoltaics (PV), brazing and soldering for HVAC/R, industrial tooling, and automotive applications, and antibacterial/biocidal applications. While electronics and photovoltaics account for the largest consumption of silver powders and flakes, the highest growth rates will be seen for hybrid silver-coated materials and silver nanopowders for antibacterial uses.

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

NanoMarkets
www.nanomarkets.net

Impact of High Silver Prices Even though silver consumption declined in 2009 as a result of the global recession, silver prices still increased climbed due to precious metal speculation, global currency debasement and a loss of faith in sovereign currencies. Lingering concerns over the monetary health of the U.S. and European economies continues to lead to persistent investment offtake of precious metals. Unfortunately for industrial users of silver, this trend is expected to continue, with average prices predicted by NanoMarkets to rise by 6% annually from $35 per Troy ounce in 2011.

Page | 4

The continued high and moderately growing silver prices will drive further efforts to minimize its use through more efficient per-unit use, better scrap recycling, etc. As a result, NanoMarkets expects the market for hybrid silver-coated materials to nearly triple in size, and the market for nanosilver to increase by about seven-fold. Silver powder and flake suppliers are also looking to at least partially mitigate rising silver costs and thus increase profit margins through product differentiation on a quality basis. NanoMarkets believes that many firms will not only remain competitive but create growth opportunities by developing downstream products that offer added value to their customers. In the brazing industry, this means offering not only powders and pastes, but also preforms and specialty brazing services. In the traditional powders and flakes market, value-added constitutes offering specialty products that are designed with particular end uses in mind.
Opportunities in Electronics Silver powders and flakes are converted to conductive pastes and adhesives for use in traditional electronics or new/novel printable electronics end-uses.

Most traditional thick-film screen-printed silver applications are mature, such as membrane switches, keyboards, capacitors and the like, and employ large quantities of silver powders and flakes. In many of these applications, like membrane switches, large features are involved, so replacement of standard inks and pastes seems improbable. There are, however, the beginnings of a very gradual shift toward use of other types of inks and printing methods (high-speed flexo and gravure) as a way to reduce costs in some applications. Sophisticated geometries and finer flakes and powders will be required for inks used in high-speed printing compared to screen-printing, presenting opportunities for silver powder and flake suppliers. The high conductivity of silver in ink form, which is important for maximizing performance, combined with the lower level of cost sensitivity of the sensor market, makes this end-use another attractive sector for silver flakes and powders. Silver may also prove to be a key enabling technology for OLED lighting, and while this market currently is very small.

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

NanoMarkets
www.nanomarkets.net

Furthermore, increasing global demand for consumer electronics will lead to healthy growth rates in the silver ink and paste market. Although the trend toward miniaturization of many consumer electronic products is reducing the average per-unit amount of silver consumption in conductive adhesives applications, there is substantial overall growth in volume demand driven by the continued industrialization and urbanization of the developing world.
Photovoltaics: Slowing but Still Attractive The photovoltaics (PV) sector has been rapidly growing for several years, both overall and in its consumption of silver. It is now about one-third the size of the traditional thick-film silver inks/pastes market, and high oil prices continue to drive interest in PV panels as “greener” energy alternatives. The global recession, however, has reduced the political will to convert from traditional energy sources to PV and it is unlikely that most of the subsidies for solar will survive major cuts in the U.S. federal budget. Furthermore, long-term growth in the PV sector will be based on building-integrated PV (BIPV), which consumes less silver.

Page | 5

Despite these apparent negatives, Nanomarkets believes that important opportunities remain for silver in the PV space. Conventional crystalline silicon (c-Si) PV, the largest sector of the PV industry and the largest consumer of silver both in total and per watt or per unit of cell area, will experience continued growth and is unlikely to ever be fully replaced by newer alternatives such as inorganic thin-film PV (TFPV), dye sensitized cells (DSC) or organic PV (OPV). Growth of newer PV technologies like OPV, cadmium telluride (CdTe), and copper-indium-gallium-selenide (CIGS) PV, as well as technologies that use less silver, will also occur. Furthermore, the PV industry tends to be risk-averse and thus resistant to changing processes.
Some Struggles for Brazing and Soldering In the brazing and soldering alloys market, silver flakes and powders already face competition from practical, less expensive alternatives, and because this market already uses alloys with varying silver content, it is a natural target for customers to find ways to decrease overall silver usage. On the positive side, the overall size of the brazing and soldering market is expected to increase as the global economy recovers from the recent downturn and as developing markets, particularly in China and India, continue to grow. The result: demand for silver powder in brazing and solder alloys should remain essentially flat.

Silver brazes are most typically used for joining of hard metals, stainless steel, titanium, and certain copper joints. They are prized for their high performance and ease of use. And while end-users are expected to seeks ways to reduce cost by reducing silver content, NanoMarkets anticipates that even with high silver prices, this segment will experience some growth. There are few suitable non-silver

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

NanoMarkets
www.nanomarkets.net

options for hard metal brazes, ceramic-to-metal brazes and aerospace and aviation brazes, so these segments will also provide opportunities to silver powder and flake manufacturers.
Nanosilver: Small Packages with Real Potential Nanosilver has been suggested for use as a conductive material in sophisticated inks and adhesives, and its inherent antimicrobial nature has led to its use in nanosilver-impregnated consumer goods and medical applications. NanoMarkets expects that both of these segments will be growth areas.

Page | 6

In conductive applications, nanosilver finds use mostly in new or emerging applications that can more easily support its high cost, such as ink-jet inks for new printed electronics or nano-adhesives. Furthermore, as the high cost of production of nanosilver comes down in response to growing volume demand, its high efficiency may make it attractive in a wider array of ink/paste and adhesive applications if average silver prices remain over $30 per Troy ounce as NanoMarkets anticipates. Suppliers will need to demonstrate real savings for customers, though, as other less expensive alternatives like carbon, copper, and even silver-coated metal hybrids, may also be effective. There is also opportunity for nanosilver in screen printing inks as the importance of alternative printing methods (ink jet, gravure, flexographic, etc.) that require printed silver with uniform and fine geometries increases. Miniaturization in the printed circuit board (PCB) market has also created a need for printing of ever-finer features using approaches ideally suited for nanosilver. As an antimicrobial preparation for medical and consumer goods, nanosilver is expected to provide longer durability and increased sustainability of antimicrobial activity while using less silver than silver salts. And since nanosilvers can be embedded into products in ways that silver salts cannot, a much wider range of applications are now possible. The biggest potential markets for nanosilver in consumer foods are in food packaging and food preparation items, textiles like socks and athletic wear, and miscellaneous plastic consumer goods. In all cases, bulk impregnation provides a uniform concentration of nanosilver, allows for lower loadings and does not affect the characteristics of the host materials. Similarly, likely medical applications will include impregnation of infection-prone or biofilm-prone components like catheters, tubing, bandage materials, prosthetics, etc. There is concern, however, about the long-term health effects of increased or widespread consumer use of silver are still under debate both in the medical and regulatory communities, particularly in the US and Europe. The regulatory environment is beginning to clarify, though, and NanoMarkets expects that most regulations will be finalized within the next year two. In addition, Asian manufacturers are moving forward with the introduction of numerous nanosilver-based antimicrobial products. Thus strong growth is expected for nanosilver in consumer goods and medical devices, with the growth rate highest in Asia.
NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-360-2967 | FAX: 804-360-7259

NanoMarkets
www.nanomarkets.net

Hybrids Provide Hope Suppliers may also find a competitive advantage in a world of high silver prices by augmenting their silver lines with less expensive, yet still sufficiently high performance, hybrid materials. Two key examples of this strategy include silver-coated copper powders and flakes for conductive adhesives and conductive ink applications, and new and improved brazing alloys with reduced precious metal content. Hybrid materials for conductive applications do not perform as well as pure silver, but rising silver prices are driving interest in these alternatives where there performance is adequate. In the brazing industry, suppliers are working closing with clients to find customized solutions for brazing applications where alloy characteristics are more important than conductivity. Leading Players in the Silver Flake and Powder Market Leading traditional silver powder and flake producers include Ferro, Ames Goldsmith, Metalor, and Johnson Matthey. Prince/Izant is a market leader among specialized companies producing powders for brazing. Inframat, ANP, and many other small firms are actively commercializing nanosilver products. Conclusion Overall, NanoMarkets believes that end-users will continue to rely on tried and tested silver unless they can be persuaded to move to more sophisticated materials without sacrificing performance or until economic considerations warrant a switch to such alternative materials in order to maintain profitability. While hybrid silver materials and nanosilver will grow dramatically in the next eight years, this growth will be from a very small base. And even though end-users will look to find ways to reduce silver consumption per unit of products as a result of high silver prices, demand for traditional silver flakes and powders will depend largely on the global economic situation and growth in emerging markets continues.

Page | 7

For additional details about the NanoMarkets report, Silver Powders and Flakes – 2011 please visit the NanoMarkets website at www.nanomarkets.net or contact us via email at sales@nanomarkets.net or by phone at 804-270-4370.

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