Market Strength

Ceramics

The industry celebrated the family of ceramics materials at Ceramics Expo & Conference 2018, and market players introduced new technologies. 

A number of leading exhibitors and speakers at Ceramics Expo & Conference 2018 addressed the steady advance of ceramic matrix composites (CMCs), and rightly so as they remain an exciting materials group loaded with potential. The show took place in Cleveland, from May 1 to May 3.

The CMC market was already headed toward $2 billion in 2016 and authors of one of the more recent reports reckon that figure will hit $7.5 billion by 2026, so it’s most definitely serious business. This family of materials – whether it is C/C, oxide/oxide or the increasingly employed SiC/SiC – offers a game-changing combination of lighter weight, ultra-high temperature capabilities, high strength, reduced cooling requirements, dynamic load resistance and 3-D printing routes.

All studies on CMC production and use point to North America as the strongest market, particularly in view of the expanding U.S. manufacturing programs in civil aircraft, military aircraft, space technology and travel, and defense sector requirements.

So, it was not surprising to hear that only five years after breaking ground in Asheville, N.C., GE Aviation is investing an additional $105 million in the production facility there to meet growing demand for CMC component production. The company will expand the workforce at Asheville by 30 percent as well as creating additional jobs elsewhere in the United States.

GE says that the demand for CMCs is expected to grow tenfold over the next decade, driven by rising jet engine production rates. As an example, each new LEAP engine, produced by CFM International (50/50 joint company of GE and Safran), has 18 CMC turbine shrouds, which are stationary parts in the high-pressure turbine that direct air and ensure turbine blade efficiency. LEAP production is accelerating quickly and more than 14,270 engines are currently on order. CMCs also are being used in the combustor and high-pressure turbine section of the new GE9X engine under development for the Boeing 777X twin-aisle aircraft. Almost 700 GE9X engines are on order.

Driving Growth

Many companies exhibited at the expo, and there also were many major announcements. Powder Processing & Technology (PPT), for example, a custom processor of inorganic and ceramic powders for the world’s largest materials technology companies, in partnership with its parent company, EJ Vestco Industries, announced the acquisition of CinChemPro LLC (CCP) located in Batavia, Ohio.

PPT’s growth has been driven by developing custom powder-processing solutions for technology driven ceramic materials companies. This facilitates product introduction and provides the production support to allow PPT to capitalize on its advanced innovation. EJ Vestco believes the growing world economy requires similar capability in the specialty organic niche chemical industry and that its current world-class client base could be better served by investing in that area.

CinChemPro extends PPT’s expertise into the organic realm where it specializes in using its spray drying, milling, sizing and micronization, as well as blending capability to enable PPT to respond to an impressive array of market opportunities.

PPT believes CinChemPro provides an outstanding opportunity to serve current partners with a more diverse skill set, while providing CCP’s current clients access to PPT’s technological and entrepreneurial resources. It also provides a broader market reach into exciting new technologies that fit PPT’s growth objectives. CCP’s location provides PPT with a complimentary satellite location, but also is closely aligned to its research and technical base of knowledge in Valparaiso, Ind.

Additionally, Harper International, a world leader in thermal processing solutions for advanced materials, announced the launch of the HC Series™ Configurable Rotary Furnace product line. Complementing Harper’s renowned custom designed thermal processing systems;, these pre-engineered furnaces are advantageous for clients requiring more economical equipment solutions with quicker lead times.

“We are excited that the HC Series allows Harper to virtually eliminate a number of up-front design engineering process steps, greatly reducing start-up lead times while offering a more standard product line to those customers looking for off-the-shelf solutions,” commented Paul Elwell, vice president sales and marketing. “Additionally, the web-based product selector tool provides an efficient head-start to our client engagement activities.”

Speakers and Sessions

In addition to featured products of the future, there was the highly rated forum and speakers at Conference @ Ceramics Expo. The conference included senior executives from Aerojet Rocketdyne, NASA-Glenn Research Center, GE Aviation, Pratt & Whitney, and NGS Advanced Fibers. Sessions in this subject area included Forecasting the Future of Advanced Ceramic Materials; Industry Update – Reviewing the Status of Ceramic Matrix Composites Production and Application; and Promoting the Adoption of Advanced Ceramic Materials as an Alternative to Traditional Materials.

“Ceramics Expo provided a one-of-a-kind opportunity to hear the latest advancements in ceramic materials, technologies, manufacturing, gain an in-depth view of the ceramic materials markets, the latest innovations and R&D for commercialization, manufacturing and technological solutions, challenges and future requirements, alongside a 300-vendor supply chain exhibition,” said show sponsors.

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