The wide range of applications of high-performance ceramic coatings across sectors such as aviation, automotive, chemical equipment, medical and healthcare, and others including power generation and electronics have boosted the growth of the global high-performance ceramic coatings market. Rising demand for consumer electronics is particularly driving the demand from the global high-performance ceramic coatings market as ceramic coatings help electronics equipment to achieve desirable performance. The overall market was worth US$5.68 billion in 2013 and is estimated to reach a valuation of US$9.07 billion by 2020, developing at a CAGR of 7.0% during the period between 2014 and 2020.
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High- Performance Ceramic Coatings in Electronics Industry: Thickness and Uniformity Depend on Coating Methods
The usage of ceramics in the semiconductor industry has increased owing to the desirable mechanical, physical, and chemical properties of ceramics. With the manufacturers of integrated circuit (IC) chips striving to make their chips smaller and less expensive, the companies dealing with semiconductor fabrication equipment are becoming increasingly dependent on advanced ceramic components. In the semiconductor industry, very high purity of ceramic is required with tight control over electrical properties. Oxide ceramics, carbide ceramics, nitride ceramics, and ceramic coatings are commonly used in the industry for diverse applications.
High-performance ceramic coatings on a variety of substrates are used in wafer fabrication equipment. For creating high-performance ceramic coatings on substrates, methods such as thermal spray coating, physical vapor deposition (PVD), and chemical vapor deposition (CVD) are commonly used. However, the thickness and uniformity of high-performance ceramic coatings depend on the type of coating method. For example, thermal spray coating method leads to porous microstructure of the high-performance ceramic coating. Though CVD method yields dense and high-purity ceramic coating, it is expensive and slow. The high-performance ceramic coating produced through PVD method is high in purity but has a slow deposition rate.
Plasma Spraying: The Economical Way to Deposit High-Performance Ceramic Coatings for Use in Electronics
For Si wafer and liquid-crystal-display (LCD) manufacturing equipment, plasma treatment of ceramic coatings is done for micro fabrication. Plasma intensely erodes the chamber parts of the equipment, usually made up of aluminum or stainless steel, hence necessitating frequent maintenance. This also leads to low yield ratio of the Si wafer and LCD manufacturing devices and increases the overall cost. Utilization of high-performance ceramic coatings prepared by plasma spraying enhances the performance and lifetime of the devices.
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Plasma sprayed ceramic coatings have a unique microstructure that provides thermal, mechanical, and chemical properties to the components they are protecting from erosion. The coatings are able to withstand high thermal gradients and offer larger flexibility to produce required thickness or surface texture needed for the application.