The global optical coatings market size was valued at USD 7,760 million in 2021. It is estimated to reach USD 12,370 million by 2030, registering a CAGR of 6% during the forecast period (2022–2030). For a particular polarization of light and angle of incidence, an optical coating design is ideal for enhancing an optical part's transmission, performance, reflection, or polarization qualities. P-polarization, S-polarization, and random polarization are some types of light polarization. An optical coating is made up of a variety of thin layers of components.
Solar panels, consumer electronics, and the automotive industry, among numerous other industries, use optical coating extensively. An expansion in the usage of thin-film optical coating in semiconductor technologies, scientific apparatus, solar energy, and military hardware has stimulated the market. In addition, numerous industry businesses are investing in research and development to enhance their coating methods and materials to produce high-performance optical coats.
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Growing Demand from the Solar Industry
The top layers of solar cells and other photovoltaic (PV) components are coated to improve performance by lengthening the life of the light-collecting material and boosting the light-collecting yield while lowering maintenance expenses. Anti-reflective coatings, comparable to the optical coatings used on camera lenses, are mainly used on solar panels. The coating is composed of a thin layer of a dielectric substance that blocks particular light wavelengths.
The primary way that optical losses affect solar cell power is by reducing the short-circuit current. The light that could have produced an electron-hole pair but does not because it is reflected off the front surface or is not absorbed by the solar cell is what is referred to as an optical loss. Consequently, optical coatings became necessary to reduce optical losses. The glass of solar panels with anti-reflective coatings transmits light better and increases the PV module's total efficiency. Additionally, the need for optical coatings in this application is expected to experience a significant rise in the following years due to the rising output of photovoltaic panels.
Technological Advancements in Optical Coatings Process
The design and development process of thin-film optical coatings matured significantly since the first single-layer anti-reflection coating procedure. The growing demand for high-precision and durable thin films in biphotonic, defense, and laser-driven applications has created the space for developing new cutting-edge technologies and cost-effective manufacturing processes.
Several physical vapor deposition techniques are often employed to create optical coatings, such as ion-assisted electron-beam evaporative deposition, ion beam sputtering, advanced plasma deposition, and plasma-assisted reactive magnetron sputtering. Each coating technology has distinct advantages that make it the best option for some niche and overlapping use cases, and thereby no one coating technology is the best option for all applications. Consequently, the new technologies are developed based on a few requirements for quality optical products, such as good theoretical design, reliable materials, and, most importantly, a practical deposition process.
Advanced plasma reactive sputtering (APRS) is another notable development in the past and is still driving the demand for optical coatings. APRS enables complex coating designs consisting of alternating high and low-index target materials. Hence, APRS remained a preferred method for high-precision filters, with costs extending to lower-end coating markets. As the number of optical applications in the life sciences, military, and laser optic industries continues to grow, the demand for optical coatings extends to the design of increasing complexity with higher tolerances and advanced technology.
Technical Problems and Volatility in Raw Material Price
Some restraints for optical coatings are cost, durability, low body and surface scatter, high efficiency, production yield, and environmental stability. There are technical problems related to lengthening the evaporation source lifetime, acquiring pure materials, and ensuring the long-term reliability of equipment and processes. The higher failure rate and lack of process efficiency restrain the studied market as the failure of an optical coating on a high-value substrate can be expensive for the user.
Furthermore, the volatility in raw material pricing and additional manufacturing cost is another factor restraining the market. The involvement of raw materials, such as silver oxides and titanium oxides, whose prices are highly uncertain, and the volatility affects the cost estimation and selection of the
Upcoming Demand from Electronic Vehicles
One of the critical technologies in electronic vehicles is optical sensors. Vehicles have a variety of optical components, including radar, laser, rain sensors, headlight lens systems, lighting reflectors, rearview mirrors, motion detectors, and camera systems, all of which are based on LEDs and infrared lasers. The future generation of automobiles will have several novel optical technologies, such as LIDAR lasers, camera systems with IR-based auxiliary illumination, and environment detection.
Incorporating new technology into electric vehicles has significantly increased the need for specialist optical films and coatings in recent years. The performance of the optical component is improved by optical coatings' higher spectrum performance and environmental resilience. Hence, the increasing adoption of electric vehicles across the globe is likely to boost the demand for optical coatings in the automotive sector.
The global optical coatings market is segmented by product type, technology, end-user, and region.
By product type, the global market is segmented into Optical Filter Coatings, Anti-Reflective Coatings, Transparent Conductive Coatings, Mirror Coatings (High Reflective), and Beam Splitter Coatings.
The Anti-Reflective Coatings segment holds the largest market share and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 6.2% during the forecast period. Optical coatings, known as antireflection coatings, are frequently used to reduce an object's reflectance. To improve efficiency and lessen risks brought on by reflections that go back through the system and produce ghost pictures, anti-reflective coatings are employed to minimize the reflectivity of the glass surface. Anti-reflective coatings are crucial for systems with numerous transmitting optical components. Anti-reflective coated optics are a common component of low-light scenarios, allowing for practical light usage. Such properties drive segment growth.
The Mirror Coatings segment is the second largest. Dielectric mirror coatings offer extreme durability compared to metal and can operate efficiently in high-temperature environments. The application areas of dielectric mirror coating include mirrors used in optical systems, dichroic dividers (VIS/NIR+IR beam splitters), beam separation & combining optics for lasers, lighting systems, laser beam injectors, infrared filters, broadband laser optics, strong magnetic fields, etc. Such applications drive segment growth.
By technology, the global market is segmented into Chemical Vapor Deposition, Plasma Sputtering, Atomic Layer Deposition, Ion-Beam Sputtering, and Sub-Wavelength Structured Surfaces.
The Chemical Vapor Deposition segment holds the largest market share and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 6.1% during the forecast period. Chemical vapor deposition is increasingly used in optical coatings to get precise thin film deposition. Plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) is increasingly used to fabricate transparent dielectric optical films and coatings. This involves single-layer, multilayer, graded index, and nanocomposite optical thin film systems for applications such as optical filters, anti-reflective coatings, optical waveguides, and others. Due to a wide range of applications and low cost, chemical vapor deposition is expected to have the largest share in optical coatings.
By end-user, the global market is segmented into Aerospace & Defense, Electronics & Semiconductors, Telecommunications, Healthcare, Solar, Automotive, and Others.
The Electronics & Semiconductors segment holds the largest market share and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 5.8% during the forecast period. Optical coatings are used in semiconductor applications. These coatings are applied to the facets of the semiconductor diode lasers. The demand for semiconductors has shown very high growth in the past few years owing to the increasing penetration of IoT in many industries, which drives the need for the optical coatings market.
The Healthcare segment is the second largest. Eyewear glass lenses highly contribute to the demand for the optical coatings market. Anti-Reflective, Photochromic, and mirror coatings are some of the standard optical coatings used in eyewear glass lenses. Anti-reflective coating is used on the lens to eliminate reflections and glare from your lens's front and back surfaces. At the same time, Mirror coatings are used for the cosmetic lens that allows the eyes to remain hidden from view. UV filter coatings are used for filtering UV rays through a glass lens. An upsurge in demand for prescription spectacles and contact lenses owing to age-related impairment, such as presbyopia, is expected to drive the need for the optical coatings market.
Asia-Pacific Commands Maximum Market Share
By region, the global optical coatings market is segmented into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and SAMEA.
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Asia-Pacific holds the largest market share and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 8% during the forecast period. The most extensive base for electronic manufacturing is located in China. The electronics sector saw the fastest rise in goods, including cellphones, TVs, portable computing devices, gaming systems, and other personal electronic gadgets. In addition to meeting domestic demand, the nation exports electronic products to other countries. With more than five times as many electronics suppliers in Japan, it has the most significant electronics manufacturing environment and supply chain worldwide. The demand for the market is anticipated to be fueled by imported electronic devices from China as middle-class disposable income and demand for electronics expand in the region.
Additionally, one of China's fastest-growing industries is communications. Chinese operators' influence on the global telecommunications industry's development is becoming increasingly important. In 2018, the capital expenditure of China's three major operators was USD 4.34 billion, and China was the second-largest operator expenditure market. In 2019, Chinese mobile subscribers reached around 1.57 billion, the world's largest single mobile communication market. On June 6, 2019, China formally issued 5G licenses, and the construction of 5G will accelerate, which is expected to positively influence the demand for the optical coatings market in the country.
North America is estimated to account for USD 3,820 million by 2030, registering a CAGR of 6.3% during the forecast period. The world's largest aerospace market is the United States. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) projects that the overall fleet of commercial aircraft will rise to 8,270 in 2030 due to an increase in air freight. The fleet of US mainliner carriers is also anticipated to increase by 54 aircraft annually as the current fleet ages. Manufacturing operations in the aerospace industry are being driven by healthy consumer spending in the country on civil and military goods and strong exports of aerospace components to nations like France, China, and Germany. The need for optical coatings in the defense industry would expand due to the rising export orders for unmanned aerial vehicles.
Germany has the most prominent healthcare market in all of Europe. More than EUR 375 billion is thought to be spent on healthcare annually in the nation. Due to demographic changes and digitalization, the government has been investing in mobile healthcare facilities, which is creating a foundation for the continuous growth of the German healthcare sector and, as a result, raising demand for medical devices and optical coatings. Germany has a long history of manufacturing top-notch medical devices, focusing on optical and diagnostic imaging technologies. After the United States and Japan, the country has the third-biggest medical device market worldwide, the largest in Europe. It is three times larger than the markets of the United Kingdom, Italy, and Spain and doubles that of France. This is expected to drive the usage of the market studied in the medical devices sector.
List of key optical coatings market manufacturers profiled