Metal coated Fibers Market – Snapshot
Metal-coated fibers are the type of optical fibers coated with a metal on the surface. Metal-coated fibers are preferred for harsh environments, high temperatures, and cryogenic applications.
Optical fibers for use in high temperatures must be coated in order to protect the fibers from external environments to avoid damage. Polymers thermally degrade when the temperature crosses 3500C. Therefore, a metal coating is preferred for high-temperature applications. Copper is the most preferred coating material. Metals such as aluminum, nickel, gold, silver, and others are used for various applications. Metal-coated fibers fabricated by the ‘freezing’ technique are hermetically sealed. The method yields fiber strength that can be twice as high as that of polymer-coated fibers due to absence of water vapor during the process.
Rise in demand for sensing cables or fiber optic sensors for measuring strain, composition, and other parameters at high temperatures in the oil & gas industry are driving demand for specialty optical fibers. Metal-coated fibers are preferred over polymer-coated fibers for sensing and EMI shielding applications at higher temperatures. . In April 2017, Fibercore launched a multimode (MM) and single-mode (SM) optical fiber used for continuous distributed temperature sensing (DTS) to provide constant thermal monitoring for turbines.
In a majority of industrial applications, at high temperatures, metal coated fibers are associated with the problem of micro bending optical losses. This is owing to the high expansion modulus of the metal and high difference in thermal expansion coefficients of silica and metals. This is likely to restrain the expansion of the metal-coated fibers market in the near future.
Demand for medical fiber optics is expected to rise significantly during the forecast period, which is anticipated to drive the metal-coated fibers market. Metal-coated fibers are used in the medical field for procedures involving endoscope placement, monitoring movement of tiny catheters, robotic surgery, vascular procedures and detection, bio-sensing, and precision biopsy. These procedures require high efficiency, accuracy, and precision-enabled invasive equipment. This is expected to provide lucrative opportunities to the metal-coated fibers market.
In terms of material, the copper segment is highly attractive as copper offers resistance to high temperatures of up to 6000C for short duration and more than 4000C for long duration. Nickel- and copper-coated carbon fiber veils and mats are highly popular for their properties including EMI shielding and electrical conductivity. Based on application, the oil & gas segment held a major share in 2017. Its share is likely to increase by the end of the forecast period. This is due to rise in demand for metal-coated fibers used in distributed temperature sensors for downhole oil well monitoring.
Need for hi-tech sensing devices in the medical, defense, and aerospace industries and rise in interest of major material research organizations in developing high-strength smart composites embedded with metal-coated fibers are likely to boost the global metal-coated fibers market.
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In terms of region, Asia Pacific dominated the metal-coated fibers market in 2017. Asia Pacific and Europe cumulatively accounted for more than 60% share of the global metal-coated fibers market in 2017. North America is a mature region of the metal-coated fibers market due to the presence of many manufacturers in the region. The oil & gas and defense & aerospace industries in Asia Pacific, Europe & North America regions are expanding rapidly due to shift in government focus toward sustainable development. Increasing focus on research and implementation of advanced composites for harsh environments without compromising on mechanical properties is contributing to the attractiveness of the metal-coated fibers market in Asia Pacific. The metal-coated fibers market in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific is expected to expand at a fast pace, while that in Latin America and Middle East & Africa is projected to expand at a moderate pace during the forecast period.
Key players operating in the global metal-coated fibers market are Fiberguide Industries, Inc., IVG Fiber Ltd, Oz Optics Limited, Art Photonics GmbH, Conductive Composites Co. LLC, Technical Fiber Products Limited, Engineered Fibers Technology, LLC., LEONI, etc.