The smart coatings market will exceed $1.4 billion by 2021, with multifunctional smart coatings gradually taking over from more mature multipurpose materials during that period of time, according to a recent report released by n-tech Research.

The market for “smart multifunctionals” will be dominated by multilayer coating throughout the forecast period, and such coatings will reach just over $1 billion in revenues by 2021. Multilayer coatings are the most straightforward approach to creating multifunctional coatings although interference between layers can still cause problems. The end-user sector with the biggest potential for using smart multi-functional surfaces will reportedly be the construction industry, where multi-functional combinations containing self-cleaning functionality in particular seem to have strong possibilities. However, the challenge in this sector is creating coatings with the long lifetimes required for building exteriors and roofs. By 2021 sales of multifunctional surfaces to the construction industry are predicted to reach $625 million.

The other end user area of importance is automotive which will reach more than $450 million in terms of consumption of smart multi-functionals by 2021, according to the report. This sector is already widely using multi-layer coatings for exterior surfaces and it will be especially easy for smart multi-functionals providing self-healing capabilities to gradually take over from the mature anti-scratch technologies over a relatively short period of time.

n-tech believes that the coming decade will see substantial new business revenues generated by smart surfaces that exhibit multiple functionalities, notably various combinations of color shifting, antimicrobial, self-cleaning, self-healing, self-dimming glass and photovoltaics. In most cases, these surfaces will be created through multilayer coating approaches, but in some instances, embedded sensors or special surface patterning will be used to achieve the required functionality. There will also be a growing number of smart coatings capable of delivering multifunctionality in a single layer.

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