According to a new market research study from Innovative Research and Products (iRAP) titled “Electro-active Polymer Actuators and Sensors – Types, Applications, New Developments, Industry Structure and Global Markets,” the global market for EAP actuators and sensors reached $148 million in 2012. This will increase to $363 million by 2017.
North America had about 66 percent market in 2012, followed by Europe, Japan, and rest of world. The AAGR growth rate is expected to be 17 percent to 27 percent for the four regions surveyed for the period 2012 to 2017.
An electroactive polymer (EAP) is a polymer that exhibits a mechanical response in response to an electric field, or a polymer that produces energy in response to a mechanical stress. The actuator property of some EAPs has been attractive for a broad range of potential applications.
New EAP devices are already replacing some mechanisms that rely on direct or indirect displacement to produce power. An EAP actuator not only is completely different from conventional electromechanical devices, but also separates itself from other high-tech approaches that are based on piezoelectric materials or shape-memory alloys by providing a significantly more power-dense package and, in many instances, a smaller footprint.
North American and global market for electro-active polymer actuators and sensors by application in 2012 and 2017
Electro-active polymer technology could potentially replace common motion-generating mechanisms in positioning, valve control, pump and sensor applications, where designers are seeking quieter, power efficient devices to replace cumbersome conventional electric motors and drive trains.
EAP devices are facing competition in a new rapidly evolving and highly competitive sector of the medical market. Increased competition could result in reduced prices and gross margins for EAP products and could require increased spending on research and development, sales and marketing, and customer support.
This study separated markets for EAP devices and products into six application segments – medical devices, haptic actuators, adjustable apertures for cellular phone cameras, smart fabrics, digital mechatronics, and high-strain sensing instruments for construction..
Medical devices had the largest market share in 2012 followed by haptic actuators, adjustable apertures for cellular phones, high strain sensing in construction, smart fabrics, and digital mechatronics. While medical devices will continue to maintain the lead in 2017, that sector will see a modest average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 11.8 percent for the period. Haptic actuators will see maximum growth at an AAGR of 35 percent from 2012 to 2017.
Among the regions, North America has the largest market share with 66 percent of the market and will be maintained around 60 percent share till 2017.