Microspheres are an emerging boon to the biotech industry—small, spherical particles ranging about 1μm to 1,000μm. They’re sometimes referred to as microparticles, and several synthetic materials as well as natural materials are used to manufacture these microspheres. As such, there are glass microspheres, polymer microspheres and ceramic microspheres. Market size forecasts from experts suggest it will almost double in size within the next five years.
“The global microspheres market size was USD 3.98 Billion in 2016 and is projected to reach USD 6.68 Billion by 2022, at a [compound annual growth rate] of 9.02% between 2017 and 2022,” according to Laura Wood, Senior Manager at Research and Markets, the leading publisher of intensive market research reports. “The superior structural properties of microspheres, development & modernization, and increasing demand from current and emerging applications are expected to drive the demand for microspheres globally.”
Some microparticles are hollow and others are considered “floating” microspheres; both of which differ greatly in terms of density, so they can be applied in very different ways. Additives are often used for hollow microspheres to decrease the material’s density, and the number of applications for floating microspheres is nigh-limitless due to their size and material.
“The construction composites application segment dominated the microspheres market in 2016,” Wood says. “The market for medical technology application is expected to witness the highest growth rate between 2017 and 2022 due to the growing number of implant surgeries in North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. The medical technology segment is expected to be the largest application of microspheres by 2022. The growing healthcare industry in the U.S., the Middle East, and Asia-Pacific countries such as China, Japan, and India is also driving this segment.”
The microspheres materials market consists of applications in particularly aerospace but also construction, automotive, oil & gas, paints & coatings, cosmetics & personal care, biotechnology & life science and especially medical technology. They serve as drug delivery systems as well as skin treatments, embolization and bulking agents more than anything. The aerospace sector makes considerable use of lightweight materials, so it is the industry with the greatest number of applications for microsphere materials.
Wood says, “Currently, North America is the largest microspheres market, in terms of value, closely followed by Western Europe. Some of the factors driving the growth of the North American market are the high growth of end-use industries, amplified local manufacturing, and increased number of domestic players. Asia-Pacific is expected to be the second-fastest growing microspheres market due to the high demand from medical technology and construction composites applications. The presence of major developing nations such as China, India, and South Korea is also a major driver for the microspheres market in the region.”
The market’s primary constraints have to do with the volatility of raw material prices. The sheer size of the requisite investments for research and development also present a significant market restraint. Another obstacle being watched is the dearth of quality control throughout developing nations. Though so-called emerging economies are expected to present the greatest opportunities for the market’s development in the long run, key market players prefer pure expansion as the optimal strategy in such an extremely competitive market.
The growth of drilling activities creates a specific space for the global microspheres materials market to fill by improving mud lubricity in drill muds as well as by enhancing drill machines’ requisite torque control; consequently, microspheres are an integral contributor to the oil & gas sector. Due to their retro-reflectivity, though, they also show major demand in paint manufacture for road signs, which is also aided by their lower specific gravity.
“The major opportunity for microspheres manufacturers are emerging economies such as China, India, and Brazil. Some of the important manufacturers are 3M (U.S.), Potters Industries LLC (U.S.), AkzoNobel N.V. (Netherlands), Matsumoto Yushi-Seiyaku Company (Japan), Trelleborg AB (Sweden), Luminex Corporation (U.S.), Momentive Performance Materials Inc. (U.S.), Chase Corporation (U.S.), Sigmund Lindner GmbH (Germany), and Mo-Sci Corporation (U.S.). Companies in this market compete with each other with respect to prices and product offerings to meet the market requirements.”
As it pertains to the cosmetics & personal care end-use sector, which is growing significantly in the increasingly robust economies of China and India, there is uncapped potential for the increase of microsphere usage in manufacture logistics and processes. “North America is the largest and fastest-growing market for microspheres in the world,” says Mr. Shah at Coherent Market Insights. “This is due to the high growth in end-use industries such as medical technology, automotive, oil & gas, and aerospace.
“Asia-Pacific is the second-fastest growing region due to burgeoning growth of life sciences & biotechnology, and paints & coatings end-use industries in the region,” Shah adds. Shah reviewed the new Research and Markets release and determined that “Product innovation is one of the key strategies adopted by the leading players in the Microspheres material market, with BASF and Trelleborg at the forefront of innovation.
“BASF has developed innovative microsphere-based admixture technology for freeze-thaw durability eliminating the need for air-entrained concrete,” Shah continues. “Trelleborg has also developed Eccofloat—hollow glass microspheres to meet deep-sea buoyancy requirements for subsea applications. Some of the major companies operating in the global Microspheres materials market are Trelleborg, BASF, Phosphorex, Pylote, Potters Industries LLC, 3M Company, AkzoNobel, Dennert Poraver GmbH, Luminex Corporation, Chase Corporation, Expancel, Sigmund Lindner GmbH, and Momentive Performance Materials Inc.”