n-tech Research has witnessed the progression of BIPV technologies, products and suppliers in the BIPV market over the past eight years. BIPV (building-integrated photovoltaics) now needs to be sold with an emphasis on aesthetics and its multi-functionality aspect.  The assumption behind our latest report is that BIPV is evolving to blend function and form, alongside and in place of conventional construction materials.  In other words, we are conjecturing that over the period considered in this report, BIPV will migrate to being a more mainstream and widely accepted technology.

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n-tech is seeing a maturing of the smart windows sector with electrochromic (EC) windows beginning to take a dominant role in smart windows for buildings and with potential for it to see a market expansion into the smart automotive windows space.  But we don’t see this battle as won yet. New smart windows technologies are also appearing – ranging from electrophoretic windows to “nanoblinds”  -- None of these have any market share worth speaking of at present, but in our view EC windows are not entrenched enough to be able to ward of all competition.  And in the automotive sector, SPD still has much of the market.

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n-tech believes that the advent of the Internet-of-Things (IoT) and wearable electronics is giving the film battery business a second chance.  The IoT potentially needs billions of low-cost, small form factor batteries, which may be used in combination with energy harvesting to increase time between charges.  Wearable electronics can support higher prices for batteries than IoT but flexible, small format batteries still seem to be the order of the day.  In either case, thin-film batteries – at least provisionally – seem well suited to these needs.

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Shape Memory Polymer Markets

At the present time, shame memory polymers (SMPs) are not as widely used as shape memory alloys (SMAs). SMAs can already be considered fully commercialized in the sense that they are already widely used – in the aerospace and biomedical fields, for example – albeit for specialist, rather than mass market applications.  By contrast, activity in the SMP space is still to be found mostly – but by no means exclusively  -- in the R&D space.  That said, n-tech believes that SMPs will enable sizeable market is about to develop.

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Executives in the aerospace and defense sector are expecting 2016 to be a good year with around 3% revenue growth.  While this is hardly suggests a boom, it is much better than we have seen in this industry for a few years and should provide the confidence for the aerospace industry to fund projects in smart materials in general and smart structures in particular.

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As a practical matter materials suppliers, electronics companies and OEMs are currently exploring two major industries where smart structures can become commercialized within a timeframe that might seriously interest investors and corporate managers. These two areas are the construction industry – our subject in this article -- and the aerospace industry:

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In 2016 n-tech believes that metamaterials will clock up less than $45 million in actual sales to the aerospace and defense sector.  The big payoff in this area won’t come for a few more years, although the indications are that the 2016-2020 will be a takeoff point for metamaterials used in aerospace/defense applications.

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Smart textiles – textiles made from intrinsically smart materials or those with embedded fabric sensors – provide a significant opportunity for materials and clothing suppliers. n-tech estimates that the market for smart textile materials or coatings and textile-based sensors will grow nearly tenfold in the next eight years, to over $3 billion by 2023.

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  • Smart Structures In the Construction Industry: 2016-2025 Slides

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  • Smart Textile Markets 2016-2023 Slides

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