According to material science, creep or cold flow of materials is defined as the tendency of a solid material to distort or deform permanently when exposed to prolonged mechanical stress. Mechanical creep occurs in materials when they are subjected to high level of stress for a long term, below the yield strength of the materials. Creep resistance is the ability of the material to resist any kind of distortion when subjected to prolonged compressive load over an extended period of time. Creep generally develops in materials that are subjected to mechanical stress at high operating temperature and pressure. Creep management is used in various applications such as heat exchangers, jet engines, nuclear power plants, refineries, and high capacity kilns which operate under high levels of stress and temperature without causing any change to their material dimensions.
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Measurement of creep behavior of a metal is determined by measuring the strain deformation as function of time under constant stress. Occurrence of creep is not limited to materials of low tensile strength, but it is also susceptible to occurring to high strength materials having high heat resistance. Atomic bond between molecules of the materials starts failing at high temperature causing the movement of atoms and atomic planes within the materials. This movement of atomic bonds at high temperatures results in restructuring of atoms, causing movements of dislocations and diffusion of the bonds that further leads to permanent deformation of the materials even with high tensile strength. Creep is a risky phenomenon and can cause unanticipated failure of materials at high temperature.
In recent times, advanced methods and techniques have been devised and several other experiments are being carried on around the globe to make materials creep-free by using special performance enhancing additives. Some of the modern creep resistance materials are made of carbon-carbon and ceramic-ceramic composites for applications up to 1,600°C and above. Recent developments of the inter-metallic compounds such as Ti Si3 and MoSi2 has shown improved behavior against creep with enhanced mechanical properties and improved deformation behavior. Combination of high-strength, thermodynamically compatible, and ductile reinforcements with conventional materials have shown improved toughening and strengthening mechanisms for high-temperature service. Modern composites have displayed improved behavior against creep with increased fracture toughness, oxidation resistance, combine strength, and mechanical and microstructural stability over the broad range of high temperature when combined with carbon fiber and titanium alloys.
Carbon fiber reinforced with titanium alloys is a creep resistant material used in turbine blades and jet engine operations. It is one of the hardest high performance creep resistant material available which is 50% harder than tungsten carbide. Molecular density of carbon fiber reinforced titanium is in excess of 95% of most materials which can be used in high purity applications. Certain grades of stainless steel used in weld metals have shown higher resistance to creep than that of others at high temperature. Stainless steel with 0.04% to 0.08% of carbon has shown higher creep resistance as compared to other grades of steel with lower carbon percentages. Creep failure sometimes take years to occur depending on the temperature resistance of the material.
A major part of the demand for creep resistance materials is received from China, Japan, the U.S., and France. Presently, North America and Asia Pacific are the prominent markets for creep resistance materials, in terms of volume and revenue. Europe is another leading market for creep resistance materials, owing to its established aviation and aerospace industry. The market for creep resistance material in Asia Pacific is projected to expand at a modest growth rate in the near future. This is attributed to the growing economy of China, Japan, and India and the increasing demand for high performance materials in different industrial sectors in these countries.
Slow-down of global economy and high cost of materials are the major restraints for the global creep resistance materials market. Key players with a global presence in the creep resistant materials market are Saint-Gobain, Bohler Edelstahl, Thyssen Krupp, Acerinox, and Aperam.
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Rise in demand for high performance materials and super alloys across the globe provides immense potential for the expansion of the creep resistance materials market. Increase in demand for high temperature resistance steel grades in the turbines, defense, jet engines, and nuclear reactors is another factor contributing to its growth.