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By 2030, the market for materials that can adequately meet these new 5G demands is likely to reach 14,000 MT of materials, totaling US$2.3 billion.
By 2030, the market for materials that can adequately meet these new 5G demands is likely to reach 14,000 MT of materials, totaling US$2.3 billion.

From consumer cell phones and wireless networks to the technology arms race taking place between global superpowers, carriers are implementing 5G networks at breakneck speed.

Behind the scenes, demand is growing for cheap, high-performing materials that will allow millions of devices to connect to these new high-frequency networks.

By 2030, the market for materials that can adequately meet these new 5G demands is likely to reach 14,000 MT of materials, totaling US$2.3 billion.
mmWave-enabled cell phones will be the initial market for these advanced materials, but 5G infrastructure will become the largest source of demand by 2024
, according to a new report, “Materials for 5G: Opportunities in mmWave Substrates” by Lux Research.

Cell phones should initially take the most market share, until about 2023, when it levels off as 5G achieves full penetration. The market for substrate in phones will increase quickly through 2023 to 5 kMT and gradually increase to 6 kMT by 2030.

5G-capable base stations begin to be rolled out in earnest in 2023, exploding to take by far the most market share through 2028. The market in base stations will peak at 8 kMT in 2026, dropping off afterward as 5G buildout slows as the demand increasingly comes from replacing base stations – falling to 6 kMT by 2030. Peripheral substrate demand will grow more steadily after 2025 to reach 2.3 kMT by 2030.

Despite political headwinds, telecommunications giants, retailers, tech companies, and world governments have all embraced the promise of 5G technology,” said Anthony Schiavo, Senior Analyst at Lux Research and lead author of the report.

In order to meet this relatively new but rapidly growing demand, a separate materials arms race has emerged. Currently, liquid-crystal polymers (LCP), polyimides (PI), and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) substrates are leading the way in this competition to meet high frequency demand.

In the near-term, LCP will be the leading material choice, but as volumes grow, falling prices for PI and scale for PTFE will lead to growing market share. In the longer term, other uses like automotive radar can create even greater demand for high frequency materials, aided PI and PTFE further.

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