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According to the report of 2023-2028 China Contact Material Industry Market, it shows that the electrical contacts are indispensable in industries such as electric power, home appliances, and automobiles with the strengths of simple structure and fast response.

In 2022, the global market for electrical contacts and contact materials was 26.2 billion yuan. And it is expected to continue to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 2.95% from 2022 to 2028. By 2028, the global market scale for electrical contacts and contact materials will reach 31.2 billion yuan. On a global scale, North America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region are the main demand markets for contact materials. Among them, there are many emerging economies in the Asia-Pacific region, and their market growth are faster. The contact materials of market share in China is 35%. It is estimated that by 2028, the global market size of electrical contacts and contact materials will reach 31.2 billion yuan, with a compound annual growth rate of 2.95% from 2022 to 2028.

Table of Contents

Overview of contact materials

Brief review of China electrical contacts market history

In the 1950s, in order to meet the development needs of the switchgear industry, China began to research and manufacture electrical contacts. In the 1980s, with the reform and opening up, China’s electrical contact industry introduced advanced foreign technology at a faster rate, but the independent research and development capabilities of new products were weak. Entering the 21st century, in order to improve competitiveness strength, Chinese electrical contact manufacturers’ research and development capabilities have been continuously enhanced. At present, China already has enterprises with mass production capabilities for high-end products.

In overseas markets, electrical contact manufacturers mainly include Germany DODUCO, Belgium Umicore, US MATERION, US Fidelity Group, Japan Toshiba, Japan Chubu Electric Power, Japan Nippon Sanso, Japan Mitsubishi, Japan Nippon, Korea Heesung, etc. In China, electrical contact manufacturers mainly include Wenzhou Hongfeng, Sirui Advanced, Foshan Tongbao, Zhejiang Leyin Hejin, etc.

What role of contact materials are played?

What role of contact materials are played
What role of contact materials are played

When the two electrical contacts are in contact, the circuit is connected. When the two electrical contacts are separated, the circuit is disconnected. The reliability of the electrical contacts is not only directly affects the performance of the switching device, but also indirectly affects the operation stability of the power system.

Electric contacts are the contact elements of switching appliances, which can disconnect or connect circuits, and are indispensable in circuit breakers, relays, disconnectors, grounding switches and other products. Normally, the contact material has the characteristics of good electrical conductivity, low resistivity, high resistance to fusion welding, high resistance to arc erosion, and high compressive strength.

As a key component of switching appliances, the performance of electrical contacts directly affects the quality and life of switching appliances. The electrical contacts are mainly made of electrical contact materials such as copper, tungsten, silver, gold, platinum, molybdenum, palladium, chromium, cadmium, etc., and are conductive.

Generally, two electrical contacts are used together to play the role of current on and off in the circuit. When the two electrical contacts are in contact, the circuit is connected, and when the two electrical contacts are separated, the circuit is disconnected.

Once the electrical contact fails, it will directly affect the normal operation of the circuit. Therefore, the performance requirements of the contact material are strict, and it needs to have excellent physical, chemical, electrical contact, arc and other characteristics. Normally, the contact material has the characteristics of good electrical conductivity, low resistivity, high resistance to fusion welding, high resistance to arc erosion, and high compressive strength.

According to application scenarios, contact materials can be divided into two categories: contact materials for weak points and contact materials for strong electricity. The latter has higher requirements on the performance of materials.

Contact material development direction

Contact material development direction
Contact material development direction

One contact material can be used to make integral electric contacts, and two or more contact materials can be used to make composite electric contacts. Common contact materials mainly include copper Cu, silver Ag, tungsten W, molybdenum Mo, gold Au, platinum Pt, palladium Pd, chromium Cr, cadmium Cd and other metal materials, as well as copper silver, copper tungsten, silver tungsten, silver molybdenum, silver palladium, silver platinum, silver cadmium, copper graphite, silver graphite, silver cadmium oxide, silver tungsten graphite and other binary/ternary materials.

In the early days, the contact material was mainly made of a single metal, such as tungsten. This contact material has strong electrical conductivity, withstand voltage, breaking, and anti-welding capabilities, but its high-voltage breaking ability and current interception ability are weak, and it is difficult to meet large current requirements, and high-voltage scene demand.

Therefore, the application proportion of binary/ternary composite contact materials continues to rise, its performance is more excellent, and the consumption of precious metals is reduced, gradually becoming the market leader.

With the development of the UHV industry, the current, voltage, and service life requirements of switching appliances are still increasing, and the performance requirements of contact materials are still improving. In addition to traditional materials, the proportion of new materials is gradually increasing. Nano-contact materials are one of the research hotspots, and graphene contact materials are also a research hotspot. However, new contact materials have higher barriers in terms of preparation difficulty and application difficulty, and their development is not yet mature.

Conclusion

With the rapid development of high-voltage and ultra-high-voltage industries, the market’s requirements for the performance of electrical contacts continue to increase. Leading electrical contact manufacturers rely on their scale, capital, technology, and talents to continuously develop new products and improve their competitiveness.

Small scale electric contact manufacturers mainly compete in the low-end market, and the competition in the low-end market is increasingly fierce. The development space of these manufacturers is shrinking, and many manufacturers will gradually be eliminated. Therefore, in the future, the concentration of China’s electrical contact market is expected to continue to increase.

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