The global superhard materials market has been forecast to hit a market value of US$20.2 billion by 2018, with the industry primarily driven by healthy economic, industrial and manufacturing activity in developing countries and the ensuing increased demand for highly efficient metal machining, boring, grinding, and nonmetal machining tools.
A superhard material is a material with a hardness value exceeding 40 GPa (gigapascals) when measured by the Vickers hardness test. They are highly incompressible solids with high electron density and high bond covalency.
As a result of their unique properties, these materials are of great interest in many industrial areas including, but not limited to, abrasives, polishing and cutting tools and wear-resistant and protective coatings.
Diamond is the hardest known material to date with a Vickers hardness in the range of 70-150 GPa. Diamond demonstrates both high thermal conductivity and electrically insulating properties and much attention has been put into finding practical applications of this material.
However, diamond has several limitations for mass industrial application, including its high cost and oxidation at temperatures above 800°.
With a perspective on global production, Russia, DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) and Botswana emerged as the largest rough diamonds producers in volume terms. The market share of De Beers, one of the most influential players in diamond production, witnessed consistent decline from a monopolistic 90% share in the last decade or so to about 60% since 2004 and even lesser in the present scenario.
Superhard materials find extensive applications in diverse industries ranging from construction/building, chemical/environmental, automotive, machinery, electronic, aerospace/military, metal working, and medical, among others.
In the manufacturing sector, these materials are used as machining materials in machine tools, while in the automotive, electronics and other industries it is used in the manufacture of diverse products/parts/components.
For more information on the superhard materials market, see the latest research: Global Superhard Materials Market
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