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EMERGENCE OF ADVANCED MATERIALS IN MANUFACTURING

K.A. Gerardino discusses the key trends and implications of the growing influence of advanced materials in manufacturing.

EMERGENCE OF ADVANCED MATERIALS IN MANUFACTURING

The world of manufacturing is undergoing a profound transformation, driven by the emergence of advanced materials that are revolutionizing the way products are designed, produced, and utilized. These materials are pushing the boundaries of what was once thought possible, ushering in an era of innovation and efficiency. In this article, we explore the key trends and implications of the growing influence of advanced materials in manufacturing.

According to the data published by Research Nester Private Limited, it is projected that the advanced materials sector will experience a worldwide growth of approximately US$600 million in the coming years. Furthermore, it is anticipated that by 2024, this industry will have a market reach exceeding 1.9 billion. These figures indicate a substantial potential for advanced materials in both emerging and established markets. It is worth noting that we have only scratched the surface in terms of the additional advantages they can offer.

North America commands the market geographically, primarily propelled by the influential aerospace and defence sectors. The presence of major aerospace giants like Boeing and Lockheed Martin stimulates the demand for advanced composites and high-performance materials. Additionally, the robust automotive industry in the region further fuels the need for advanced materials, particularly those that are lightweight and contribute to enhanced fuel efficiency.

Conversely, the Asia-Pacific region is poised to exhibit the highest Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR), attributed to the region's thriving electronics and automotive industries. Major players such as Samsung and LG in the electronics sector are instrumental in driving demand for advanced materials like semiconductors, ceramics, and speciality coatings. Moreover, the expanding middle class in the region propels the demand for high-end automotive products, consequently boosting the need for advanced materials. The industrial surge in developing nations such as China, India, Singapore, and Indonesia is anticipated to escalate the demand for advanced materials, further propelling market expansion.

As a testament to this trend, BASF inaugurated a cutting-edge research centre, the Advanced Materials and Systems Research Center Asia Pacific, in Shanghai, China, in August 2022. This facility is dedicated to developing innovative materials and technologies across diverse industries, including automotive, construction, and electronics.

Indonesia, in particular, is experiencing a burgeoning market for advanced materials, propelled by the nation's strong focus on innovation and technology. Significant investments by the government in research and development, with a particular emphasis on nanotechnology, advanced manufacturing, and materials science, are driving this growth. The proposal for establishing a national research centre for advanced materials by Indonesia's Ministry of Research and Technology underscores the commitment to fostering research and development in this field, thereby supporting the expansion of related industries.

Expansion of Advanced Materials
The growing influence of advanced materials in manufacturing holds significant implications for various industries. Let us delve into some key trends and their impact:

Energy Efficiency and Alternate Energy Devices: Advanced materials play a pivotal role in developing energy-efficient technologies and alternative energy sources. Innovations in materials contribute to the enhanced efficiency of solar panels, batteries, and fuel cells. These advancements are crucial for addressing resource shortages and promoting sustainability. Examples of advanced materials enhancing energy efficiency and supporting alternative energy devices include:
  • Advanced composites combine different components to create lightweight, strong, and durable structures. In wind turbine blades, advanced composite materials improve efficiency by reducing weight and enhancing aerodynamics.
  • Hybrid materials, such as combining ceramics with metals, offer unique properties. They find applications in fuel cells, where they enhance conductivity and durability.
  • Engineered polymers with tailored properties are used in solar panels, batteries, and energy storage systems. Their flexibility, chemical resistance, and electrical insulation contribute to improved performance.
  • Lightweight metals like aluminium and titanium are essential for energy-efficient transportation. These materials reduce vehicle weight, leading to better fuel efficiency.
  • Nanotechnology enables the development of materials with unique properties at the nanoscale. Nanomaterials enhance energy storage, catalysis, and solar cell efficiency.
Sustainable and Responsive Materials: Startups are currently emphasizing sustainable, responsive, and smart materials, such as biodegradable plastics, thermally adaptive fabrics, and flexible displays. These materials provide enhanced physical properties while minimizing environmental impact. Now, let us dig into some examples of advanced materials contributing to sustainable and responsive solutions:
  • Biodegradable Plastics break down naturally over time, reducing environmental impact. Applications include single-use packaging, agricultural films, and medical devices.
  • Thermally Adaptive Fabrics adjust their properties based on temperature changes. For instance, they can provide warmth in cold weather and coolness in hot conditions.
  • Advanced materials enable the creation of bendable, lightweight displays. Flexible screens are used in smartphones, e-readers, and wearable devices.
  • Hydrogels are responsive materials that can absorb and release water. They find applications in drug delivery, wound healing, and tissue engineering.
  • Carbon Nanotubes (CNT) exhibit remarkable mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties. They are used in composites, sensors, and energy storage devices.
  • Graphene is a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice. It is incredibly strong, lightweight, and conducts electricity efficiently. Applications range from flexible electronics to water purification systems.
  • Polymers that respond to external stimuli (e.g., temperature, pH, light). Shape-memory polymers, self-healing materials, and drug-delivery systems fall into this category.

EMERGENCE OF ADVANCED MATERIALS IN MANUFACTURING
Carbon Nanotube

These materials not only enhance performance but also contribute to a more sustainable and adaptable future by promoting resource efficiency, reducing environmental footprints, and fostering innovation in various industries. Their incorporation into products and technologies signifies a commitment to environmentally conscious practices and a forward-thinking approach to addressing the challenges of today and tomorrow.

Miniaturization and Organic Electronics: The electronics industry reaps the benefits of advanced materials as miniaturization, organic electronics, and flexible substrates enhance device performance. Disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) drive smart manufacturing practices. Here are some examples of advanced materials that contribute to the fields of miniaturization and organic electronics:
  • Advanced Organic Substrates enable extreme electronics miniaturization. Thin, particle-containing organic substrates, liquid crystal polymer (LCP), and microflex overcome the limitations of traditional printed circuit boards (PWBs) and ceramics. They offer outstanding electrical performance and high reliability in chip packaging.
  • Quantum dots are nanoscale semiconductor particles. They emit light of specific wavelengths when excited, making them useful for displays, lighting, and solar cells.
  • Graphene is a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice. It exhibits remarkable electrical conductivity, mechanical strength, and flexibility. Graphene finds applications in flexible electronics and transparent conductive films.
  • Silicon Carbide (SiC) is a wide-bandgap semiconductor material. It withstands high temperatures and voltage, making it suitable for power electronics and electric vehicles.
  • Flexible Batteries use flexible substrates and electrodes. They can be integrated into wearable devices, sensors, and medical implants.
  • Smart glass changes transparency based on external conditions. It enhances privacy, energy efficiency, and aesthetics in buildings and vehicles.
  • Biochips incorporate biological components (e.g., DNA, proteins) on a microscale. They have applications in diagnostics, drug discovery, and personalized medicine.

EMERGENCE OF ADVANCED MATERIALS IN MANUFACTURING
Graphene

Strength, Durability, and Thermal Properties:
Manufacturing processes have evolved, leading to the adoption of advanced materials. Materials such as composites, ceramics, and nanomaterials offer increased strength, durability, and improved thermal properties compared to traditional raw materials.
  • Phase Change Materials (PCMs) can absorb and release substantial thermal energy during phase transitions. Their ability to store and release heat energy makes them durable. PCMs are used for temperature control in solar energy storage, buildings, and even clothing for thermal comfort.
  • Borides, Carbides, and Nitrides are transition element compounds (e.g., hafnium, zirconium, tantalum, titanium) that have high melting points and excellent hardness. They exhibit good wear resistance and mechanical strength. Their high thermal conductivity and stability make them suitable for extreme conditions.
Companies Using Advanced Materials
Numerous companies spanning diverse industries have enthusiastically adopted the integration of advanced materials into their manufacturing processes, leveraging the myriad benefits offered by these cutting-edge materials. Below are a selection of noteworthy industries and companies that demonstrate the widespread adoption and innovative applications of advanced materials:

Aerospace Advancements: In the aerospace industry, companies have embraced advanced composites to construct lightweight yet incredibly robust components for aircraft. From fuselage structures to wing components, these materials contribute to enhanced fuel efficiency and overall performance.
  • Boeing, a major player in the aerospace industry, has been at the forefront of incorporating advanced materials into their aircraft. Boeing utilizes materials like carbon fiber composites in the construction of various components, including wings and fuselage structures. These advanced materials contribute to the development of lighter, more fuel-efficient aircraft with improved performance.
  • Airbus, another leading aerospace manufacturer, is known for its commitment to innovation in aircraft design and manufacturing. The company incorporates advanced materials such as carbon-fiber-reinforced composites and titanium alloys in the construction of their aircraft. These materials contribute to increased fuel efficiency, durability, and overall performance, aligning with the industry's push for more sustainable aviation solutions.
Automotive Innovations: Automotive manufacturers have incorporated advanced composites in the production of vehicle parts, such as body panels and chassis components. This not only reduces the overall weight of the vehicles but also enhances fuel efficiency and contributes to the development of electric and hybrid vehicles.
  • Tesla is known for its pioneering work in the electric vehicle (EV) sector, and the company has been at the forefront of incorporating advanced materials into its vehicles. Tesla's extensive use of high-strength aluminium alloys and advanced composites contributes to the lightweight construction of their electric cars, enhancing overall efficiency and range. The company's commitment to advancing materials technology aligns with its goal of accelerating the world's transition to sustainable energy.
  • BMW is a prominent player in the automotive industry known for its focus on innovation. The company has been actively incorporating advanced materials into the design and manufacturing of its vehicles. BMW utilizes materials such as carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) in their "i" series electric vehicles, contributing to reduced weight and improved energy efficiency. This commitment to advanced materials aligns with BMW's strategy to create more sustainable and environmentally friendly vehicles.
Renewable Energy Solutions: In the renewable energy sector, companies are utilizing advanced composites in the manufacturing of wind turbine blades. These materials offer the necessary strength and durability to withstand harsh environmental conditions, contributing to the efficiency and longevity of renewable energy systems.
  • Vestas is a global leader in wind turbine manufacturing and renewable energy solutions. The company has been at the forefront of incorporating advanced materials in the design and production of wind turbine components. Vestas focuses on materials such as advanced composites and high-strength alloys to improve the efficiency, durability, and sustainability of their wind turbines. By continually innovating in materials and design, Vestas contributes to the advancement of wind energy technology.
  • First Solar is a leading manufacturer of thin-film solar modules, and it has played a significant role in advancing solar technology. The company utilizes advanced materials, including cadmium telluride thin-film technology, in the production of solar panels. This approach allows for more cost-effective and efficient solar energy conversion compared to traditional silicon-based solar panels. First Solar's commitment to advancing materials technology contributes to the broader adoption of solar energy for a sustainable future.
Sports Equipment Revolution: Sporting goods manufacturers are revolutionizing the industry by incorporating advanced materials into the production of equipment, such as tennis rackets, golf clubs, and bicycles. These materials provide a perfect balance of strength and flexibility, resulting in high-performance and durable sports gear.
  • Nike is renowned for its commitment to innovation in sports equipment. The company consistently explores and integrates advanced materials into its products to enhance performance and durability. Nike utilizes materials like carbon fiber and proprietary blends of synthetic fabrics in the production of athletic footwear, apparel, and equipment. Their continuous research and development efforts contribute to the creation of cutting-edge sports gear, setting new standards in the industry.
  • Another company is Callaway Golf, a leading manufacturer in the golf industry, recognized for incorporating advanced materials and technology to improve golf equipment performance. They have been at the forefront of utilizing materials such as titanium, carbon composites, and advanced alloys in the design and manufacturing of golf clubs. Callaway's commitment to innovation extends to golf balls, where they explore materials and aerodynamic designs for improved distance and accuracy. Their emphasis on advanced materials has played a pivotal role in shaping the modern golf equipment landscape.
Medical Advancements: The healthcare sector has witnessed the integration of advanced composites in the development of innovative medical devices and prosthetics. These materials offer the necessary biocompatibility, strength, and lightweight properties crucial for creating cutting-edge solutions in the medical field.
  • Medtronic is a global leader in medical technology, focusing on innovative solutions for various medical conditions. The company has been pioneering the use of advanced materials in the development of medical devices, including implantable devices and surgical tools. Medtronic's commitment to materials innovation spans areas such as biocompatible polymers, shape-memory alloys, and advanced ceramics. These materials contribute to the design of safer, more durable, and highly effective medical devices, advancing patient care and treatment outcomes.
  • Stryker is a leading medical technology company that specializes in the development of a wide range of medical devices and equipment. The company utilizes advanced materials in the manufacturing of orthopaedic implants, surgical instruments, and medical imaging devices. Stryker incorporates materials such as titanium alloys, advanced polymers, and biocompatible coatings to enhance the performance and longevity of their medical products. Their commitment to materials innovation is driven by a dedication to improving patient outcomes and the overall efficiency of medical procedures.
These examples underscore the versatility and transformative potential of advanced composites across diverse sectors, showcasing how these materials are reshaping industries and driving innovation in manufacturing processes.

Other Recent Developments
Some of the recent developments in advanced materials are:
  • In December 2020, Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation and Ube Industries announced a partnership to develop new lithium-ion battery electrolyte solutions that are safer, more efficient, and have a longer life cycle.
  • In December 2020, Evonik Industries launched a new portfolio of high-performance additives for the plastics industry, which can improve plastics' mechanical, thermal, and electrical properties.
  • In March 2021, Solvay and Boeing signed a partnership agreement to develop advanced materials and processes for aerospace applications, including thermoplastic composites and 3D printing technologies.
  • In June 2021, Arkema launched a new range of bio-based thermoplastic elastomers for use in automotive and consumer goods applications, which can reduce the carbon footprint of the end products.
  • In July 2021, Covestro announced the acquisition of DSM's thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) business, which includes production sites in China, the Netherlands, and the United States.
Challenges and Considerations
The manufacturing industry faces several challenges and considerations when it comes to advanced materials. From research and development to implementation, factors such as cost-effectiveness, scalability, and compatibility with existing processes are crucial considerations. Additionally, the industry must navigate regulatory landscapes and sustainability requirements, ensuring that the adoption of advanced materials aligns with environmental and safety standards. Balancing innovation with practicality poses a continuous challenge, as manufacturers strive to integrate cutting-edge materials to enhance product performance while maintaining efficiency and competitiveness in a dynamic market. Let us explore a few of these:
  • Financial Hurdles: Scaling digital deployments can be a significant financial undertaking, particularly when short-term benefits are not readily evident. Organizations often exhibit hesitancy in investing in technologies that do not offer an immediate return on investment (ROI). The lack of clear roadmaps for digital success can further impede adoption, as uncertainty surrounding the tangible outcomes of digital initiatives raises concerns among decision-makers.
  • Organizational Problems: Resistance from leadership and lack of concentration during digital transformation efforts can impede success. Insufficient understanding of digital capabilities and a lack of organizational talent can hinder broader buy-in and effective transformative efforts.
  • Technology Roadblocks: Organizations face challenges in selecting the right technology platforms for scaling deployment. Limited support from partners can slow down the adoption of new technologies.
  • Environmental Concerns: As global awareness of environmental impact grows, manufacturers must rethink their strategies. Sustainable practices and eco-friendly materials are gaining importance.
  • Supply Chain Disruptions: National security interests, trade barriers, and logistics disruptions are pushing businesses to explore alternatives to globalized supply chains. Major swings in demand require agility and flexibility in manufacturing processes.
  • Industry 4.0 Adoption: Successful companies leverage Industry 4.0 to achieve faster, more sustainable change. These “lighthouse” manufacturers transform their factories through digital technology, focusing on agility, customization, and customer satisfaction.
The main obstacle to expanding the worldwide market for advanced materials is their high cost. The majority of the categories of sophisticated materials, such as carbon fibers and nanomaterials, are significantly more expensive than their regular counterparts. Resources costs vary significantly based on the raw materials. However, the underlying design technology significantly increases the price of nanoparticles and other advanced materials.

A gram of pure gold cost US$58 in 2019, but the price of gold nanoparticles is listed as US$ 80,000 per gram. Additionally, nanotechnology is largely restricted to industrialized economies and is an expensive topic of study. It restricts the expansion of the nanomaterials market in developing and underdeveloped countries.

In addition to these challenges, specific materials like metal additive manufacturing face limitations related to production volume, standards compliance, post-processing, product quality, maintenance, and material range. Similarly, polymer composites fabricated using additive manufacturing have their own advantages and disadvantages, with potential applications in various areas.

Key Takeaways
The adoption of advanced materials is driving innovation and efficiency in manufacturing, contributing to the development of more sustainable and high-performance products. Continued research and development in materials science are likely to unveil even more sophisticated materials, further shaping the future of manufacturing processes.

Meanwhile, the convergence of artificial intelligence (AI) and material science is a pivotal force shaping the future of advanced materials in manufacturing. The global material informatics market is on a robust trajectory, projected to grow from US$129 million in 2023 to US$276 million by 2028. Techniques such as statistical analysis, genetic algorithms, deep tensors, and digital annealers are revolutionizing material discovery and optimization.

Successful manufacturers are embracing Industry 4.0 to drive sustainable change. These “lighthouse” companies leverage AI, machine learning, natural language processing, and context-aware computing to enhance efficiency, quality, and innovation.

In this dynamic landscape, AI-powered materials hold the promise of unlocking novel properties, optimizing processes, and propelling us toward a more resilient and competitive manufacturing future.


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