Thermochromic Materials Market size is forecast to reach $2.5 billion by 2026, after growing at a CAGR of 8.6% during 2021-2026. Thermochromic materials are generally organic leuco dye mixtures, which change reversibly their color by a temperature change. A change in the crystalline phase and structure is responsible for the color transition. The market growth is expected to be driven by the rise in the use of thermochromic materials in various applications, such as safety inks, thermometers, OLED screens, and body armors. Further, the application of thermochromic materials as an indicator to determine the quality of the frozen meat and dairy products, is anticipated to fuel the demand. However, thermochromic inks are considered as costly as the production of thermochromic materials involves the use of highly specialized and complex manufacturing process than conventional inks, which is projected to be a significant challenge for the thermochromic materials industry during the forecast period.

COVID-19 Impact

With the supply of only essential goods and restricted movement, the lockdown has had a massive impact on the thermochromic materials industry which has practically come to a stand-still. Due to the sealed borders and import-export restrictions, procurement of raw materials such as ink, label stock, plates, and dies amongt other components has been challenging. Also, the expense of sanitizing factories twice a day, having workers undergo daily health check-ups with an infrared thermometer, providing masks and face shields add up to be a major challenge for the proper functioning of thermochromic materials industries. During these hard moments, the movement of labor from urban landscapes to their respective villages further adds to the woes. Thus, there is a disruption in the smooth functioning of the thermochromic materials supply chain, which is affecting the thermochromic materials market.

Thermochromic Materials Market Segment Analysis – By Type

The reversible segment held the largest share in the thermochromic materials market in 2020 and is growing at a CAGR of 9.2% during 2021-2026. For applications in building envelopes, reversible thermochromic materials with an optical response in the solar temperature variable range are of particular interest. They show a dark color and low solar reflectance (high absorptance) for cold external conditions due to its crystalline phase and structure, thus increasing surface temperature. Furthermore, irreversible thermochromic materials do not return to their original color on reversing the temperature and hence they are limited to a single-time use, which is expected to boost demand for the reversible thermochromic materials over the forecast period.

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Thermochromic Materials Market Segment Analysis – By Material

The leuco (dye) systems segment held the largest share in the thermochromic materials market in 2020. These come in a variety of forms, dispersion (ink concentrate /pigment), powder, or plastic pellets and are more commonly used on textiles in the design disciplines. The organic leuco dye mixtures materials are widely used due to their color transition properties when exposed to different temperatures. In addition, organic leuco dye mixtures materials are tough, durable, and cost-effective as compared to other materials and used in medical, packaging, printing & coating. These qualities make it suitable for use in various applications, which is the major factor that drives its market growth during the forecast period.

Thermochromic Materials Market Segment Analysis – By End-Use Industry

The printing & coating segment held the largest share in the thermochromic materials market in 2020 and is growing at a CAGR of 8.7% during 2021-2026, owing to an increase in demand for thermal paper for POS systems. There is an increasing demand for thermal paper rolls in POS (point-of-sale) systems, as it helps in meeting the changing needs of the customers as well as record transactions for accounting purposes, without having to spend excessively. The use of thermochromic materials is also gaining momentum for interactive packaging that encourages consumers to take a product off the shelf and use it. Also, owing to its high reflection properties and growing demand for indication material, thermochromic materials are ideal solution for printing & coating applications. The thermochromic materials are used in printing & coating applications for path markings, the coating on instrument panels, indicator purpose, and emergency markings, which is also fueling the demand for thermochromic materials in the printing & coating applications during the forecast period.

Thermochromic Materials Market Segment Analysis – By Geography

Europe region held the largest share in the thermochromic materials market in 2020 up to 34%, owing to a spiraling demand from the food and beverages sector to ascertain the quality of frozen meat and dairy products. According to The Brewers of Europe, the total production of beer increased from 3,464,000 hectoliters to 3,659,000 hectoliters in Switzerland. And the Consumption rose to 470 million liters in 2018. According to the International Trade Administration (ITA), the total local production of food processing and packaging industry in Ukraine increased from USD 81,065 thousand in 2017 to USD 9,823 thousand in 2018, which then increased to USD 100,000 thousand in 2019. In the European industry, smart textiles are also the main growth factor. With the rising population and individual per capita income, the region’s demand for smart textiles such as sportswear is also increasing rapidly. For instance, the export value of ski equipment for winter sports increased from USD 10,862 thousand in 2019 to USD 12,082 thousand in 2020 in Switzerland. With the increasing export value, it can be determined that the demand for smart textiles such as sportswear is continuously increasing in the region. Therefore, owing to these factors the demand for thermochromic materials is anticipated to increase, which will then drive the market growth in the region during the forecast period.

Thermochromic Materials Market Drivers

Increasing Demand from Various End-Use Industries

Thermochromic materials due to their color transition and crystalline phase structure find application in different end-use industries. Their market is driven by the fashion and home furnishing industry’s demand for smart textiles. Any of these apps are tablecloths that change color upon interaction with hot objects on the table, ski costumes, chairs whose color shows where a person is seated, and clothing that changes color with a specific motif painted on them. For applications such as protection or camouflage, thermochromic textiles may also be used as versatile sensors for practical use. Thermochromic inks are used for marking, safety printing, and promotional packaging items. In many industrial sectors, thermochromic materials are primarily used as temperature indicators to assess the difference in temperature and heat reaction in chemical reactions and to calculate the distribution of temperature in chemical heating devices, such as heat exchangers and reactors. All these extensive applications are driving the demand for thermochromic materials in various end-use industries.

Flourishing Construction Industry Accelerating the Demand for Thermochromic Materials

The thermochromic material coating on the building reflects the solar radiation, especially the infrared regime, and transmit visible radiation regime. This enables to use of thermochromic material for building applications. Rising energy costs and global warming concerns have sparked the implementation of guidelines, promoting the need for solar management options for architectural applications. And governments of various countries are heavily investing in expanding the construction sector. For instance, in 2019, the Thailand government allocated THB4 billion (US$125.6 million) to finance five low-cost housing projects in the country. In February 2020, the Department of Human Settlements allocated R95.9-billion, which will support the delivery of 22,696 housing subsidies in South Africa during 2020-2021. Thermochromic pigments are incorporated into building materials, such as common white coatings, colored paintings, also with the addition of TiO2, white textile membrane coverings. Thus, with the increasing construction activity, the demand for thermochromic materials to impart heat-control & color-changing abilities to windows, exterior walls, and other construction components will also eventually increase, which will then drive the market growth.

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Thermochromic Materials Market Challenges

Poor Light Fastness of Thermochromic Materials

The global demand for thermochromic materials is limited by a major disadvantage of thermochromic materials, i.e., they typically exhibit low light fastness. In the presence of UV rays, certain materials degrade and undergo photochemical fading. Moreover, thermochromic inks are more costly than traditional inks. This is due to the highly advanced and complex processing of thermochromic materials. In addition, advanced printing processes might be needed to print with an irreversible thermochromic ink to prevent accidental activation during printing, which greatly increases costs. In order to ensure that thermochromic inks comply with regulatory requirements, companies using thermochromic inks for packaging in the event of direct food contact need to comply with regulatory guidelines and undergo specific testing. All of these factors act as a significant challenge for the thermochromic materials market.

Thermochromic Materials Market Landscape

Technology launches, acquisitions, and R&D activities are key strategies adopted by players in the thermochromic materials market. Major players in the thermochromic materials market are OliKrom, Matsui International Company, Good Life Innovations Ltd, New Color Chemical Co., Ltd (NCC), Gem’innov, LCR Hallcrest, Smarol Industrial Co. Ltd., QCR Solutions Corp., CTI (Chromatic Technologies), and Hali Industrial Co. Ltd. & L’Arca Srl.

Acquisitions/Technology Launches

In June 2019, a phosphorescent paint for marking on the ground was developed by Olikrom. This pigment absorbed sunlight during the day, without any electrical connection, to replace it during the night.

Key Takeaways

Europe dominates the thermochromic materials market, owing to the growth of the packaging, construction, and medical manufacturing industry. The use of thermochromic materials in inks for flexographic printing and screen printing is expected to be key aspects of the market growth in the region.

The growing demand for innovative products with temperature-based, color transition abilities for entertainment or functional applications has contributed significantly to market growth in recent years.

There is a growing awareness among manufacturers of military equipment regarding pigments for camouflaging their sensitive devices from infrared detection, which is anticipated to substantially drive the market growth.

Furthermore, the increasing usage of organic leuco dye mixtures as food quality indicators to determine the quality of the frozen meat and foods is expected to bolster the market during the forecast period.

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