Driven by increasing demand in consumer electronics and automotive sectors, the global temperature sensor market is forecast to reach $8 billion by 2020, according to a research report from IndustryARC. The market is expected to grow in the double digits from 2013 to 2020 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12 percent. Temperature sensing is a critical function in many applications found in a range of industries including petrochemical, automotive, aerospace and defense, and consumer electronics such as smartphones and other mobile devices.
IndustryARC classifies the temperature sensor market into two main segments: contact temperature sensors and non-contact temperature sensors. Contact temperature sensors are further broken down into four types: ICs, thermistors, resistance temperature detectors (RTDs) and thermocouples. Non-contact temperature sensors are segmented into two categories: infrared temperature detectors and thermopile.
Non-contact sensors are the most expensive types of temperature sensors followed by thermocouples. A non-contact sensor costs around $12 and a thermocouple device costs around $4 as of 2013, according to the report. The market research firm expects pricing for thermcouples to increase by 2020 due to the availability of alternative devices. However, contact sensors is still a major segment in the global temperature market accounting for 85 percent of the market share.
Of all the product segments in the temperature sensor market, RTD is forecast to be the fastest growing. These devices are expected to dominate over thermocouples due to several factors including wider temperature range, increased ruggedness, and higher accuracy. One example cited in the report is the RTDM12 rugged series of RTD temperature sensors from Omega Engineering Inc. With a fast response time, the RTD plug is well suited for pressure vessel applications, pressurized containers and applications that requires a temperature sensor with an NPT mounting fit. It’s also suitable for water, chemical and automotive industries.
The report finds that demand for thermistors has also increased in the automotive industry, particularly in applications such as powertrain, safety and controls and alternative fuel vehicles due to the change in government standards and end user demand patterns. Automobiles use a total of 30 thermistors are including 20 negative temperature coefficient (NTCs) and five positive temperature coefficient (PTCs) sensors.
NTC chip thermistors are also found in military applications. As an example, Ametherm introduced four new series of NTC chip thermistors -- STC0134-X, STC0138-X, STC0143, and STC0144-X – that provide highly consistent performance in temperature monitoring and compensation in hybrid circuits for ICs in military telecom systems and robotic assemblies. They deliver high accuracy temperature measurement of up to 150°C. They are available in sizes as small as 0.50 mm x 0.50 mm x 0.43 mm.
In addition to being classified by type, end user and geography, IndustryARC further classifies temperature sensors by metals and alloys that are used in manufacturing. Metals covered in this report include platinum, copper, silicon, tungsten and nickel and alloys. The report finds that platinum is the most widely used metal, especially in RTD and thermocouple. The demand for platinum in temperature sensors is projected to grow at a CAGR of three percent over the forecast period of 2013 to 2020.
One of the biggest consumers of the temperature sensors is the consumer electronics sector with Asia-Pacific accounting for 35 percent of the global market consumption, according to the report. North America holds about 25 percent of the total market share, driven primarily by military and automotive demand.
Key players in the global temperature sensor market are Honeywell International Inc., Analog Devices Inc., STMicroelectronics N.V., Texas Instruments and Microchip Technologies Inc.
However, other suppliers like TDK continue to address the market and deliver innovative products. One example includes the EPCOS NTC thermistors in 0402 and 0603 SMD case sizes. They feature a rated resistance of 10 kΩ in tolerances of ±1%, ±3% and ±5%. TDK attributes the tight tolerances to new production technology and a rugged glass passivation, which also are said to deliver high reliability and degradation stability. These NTC thermistors are said to enable fast and precise temperature measurement across a wide range. They are available in two series: the automotive series, which is qualified to AEC-Q200 and suitable for applications up to +150°C, and the standard series for applications up to +125°C.