The metal coated microspheres are manufactured using specialized treatments on base material usually a glass or ceramic which are non-solid in nature. The treatment adds considerable cost to final microspheres. However, the properties that are added to these microspheres go beyond the base material properties through metallic coatings, justifying the cost appraisal. The coatings help manufacturers to induce several properties suiting niche applications for each coating metal added. For example, coating with silver make the microspheres suitable in aerospace and other weight sensitive applications. Also, they find applications in conductive paints and coatings used in electronics industry. The metal coated microspheres could also be used in outdoor billboards instead of energy consuming LCD and LED billboards. These are called as retro-reflective microspheres. In this, the barium titanate (BaTiO3) glass is treated with thin aluminum shell, which produces essential retro-reflection. This would help in saving the energy consumed using present applications.
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Microspheres are the innovative materials with extremely small particle size. They typically have diameters ranging from 1 micrometer to 1 millimeter. The extremely small particle size makes these materials suitable in several applications. They are usually manufactured using synthetic and non-synthetic materials. Normally the microspheres are available in two forms either solid or hollow, each used in different application areas. The microspheres are commercially available in various forms such as glass microspheres, ceramic microspheres, and polymer microspheres. The metal coated microspheres are those microspheres which have glass microspheres and polymer microspheres as their bases and coatings of certain metals. The coatings of metals add supplementary benefit to base material microspheres. The chief metals used for coatings are aluminum, silver, nickel and gold. However, other metals like iron, tin and titanium could also be used. As the metal coated microspheres depict magnetic and electrical properties their prime applications include electronics, fillers for plastics, electromagnetic (EMI) shielding and for composites manufacturing. The market for microspheres is currently dominated by the U.S. followed by Europe and Asia- Pacific. The key reason behind this domination is the requirement of these microspheres in electronics industry in the developed countries.
The current market for microspheres is dominated by the U.S. and Europe, however, the demand from developing countries in Asia Pacific region are expected to have elevated growth for metal coated microspheres in the next few years. The principal reason for this elevated growth is the increase in demand for metal coated microspheres in electronics industry in emergent countries such as China and Indonesia. Moreover, due to the rapid economic development of these countries, coupled with necessary infrastructure development and quality development the market for metal coated microspheres is expected to rise. The current market for metal coated microspheres is sturdy in developed regions such as North America and Europe where most of the manufacturers have their bases. The growing demand for metal coated microspheres in the composites market across different regions of the world is anticipated to drive the global metal coated microspheres market in the next few years. The major players operating in the metal coated microspheres market are focusing on various emerging nations in Asia Pacific and other regions as they demonstrate immense market potential.
Some of the key players operating in the metal coated microspheres market are companies such as Momentive Performance Materials Inc., Mo Sci Corp, Cospheric LLC, 3M, Potters Industries LLC, including others.
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