Graphene: How This Miracle Material is Transforming Every Industry

Graphene: How This Miracle Material is Transforming Every Industry

By Justin Starr

In the 1940s, plastic was portrayed as a “miracle material” by the American chemical industry. Lightweight, cheap, and virtually indestructible, plastic proceeded to transform industries around the world. Glass plants were retrofitted to produce plastic; farmers hastily converted their fields to grow soybeans, capitalizing on the industry’s demand for oil; and new industries, specializing in disposable goods sprung up virtually overnight.

While history is rife with examples of industries that were transformed by plastic, less attention is paid to those companies that failed to take advantage of this miracle material. Corporations like the Sneath Glass Company, and the All Metal Products Company believed that their proven, timeless designs could not be obsoleted by an inexpensive polymer. Yet, these once-famous names are now known only to collectors, as their businesses were destroyed by plastics. Attempts to adapt and incorporate plastic late in the game were largely unsuccessful.

By contrast, Rubbermaid, General Electric, and O.Berk, among others, embraced plastics and allowed new polymer products to displace traditional products. Such internal competition kept these companies nimble and responsive to consumer preferences, and they remain strong, thriving companies, even today.

Graphene has been described as a “miracle material” in the same vein as plastics. Graphene is nearly a million times thinner than paper, but 200 times stronger than steel. It is flexible, transparent, and can possess a current density 1000 times larger than that of copper. Laboratory scale experiments have created 1000 GHz graphene microchips, conductive polymers, flexible touchscreens, and strong, lightweight composites. Like plastic, it is poised to transform all industries, with a number of devices projected to hit the market in the next 3-5 years.

The European Union has committed to fund more than €1 billion in graphene related research through their Flagship Graphene program. Further, 62% of semiconductor executives projected a near-term switch to graphene or carbon nanotubes in chip production, and the market for graphene products is expected to exceed $390 million by 2024. Yet, in 2012, it was estimated that only 200 companies were involved in applied graphene research, and much of this effort was concentrated in the hands of a handful of companies including Samsung, Intel, Nokia, IBM, and Sony.

As the cost of graphene decreases, its use in a variety of materials is projected to skyrocket. Companies that are actively exploring how this miracle material can be integrated into existing products are poised to be first-movers when this occurs. It is no longer a question of if graphene will transform your industry, but rather a question of when. Don’t let your company fall behind like Sneath and All-Metal Products. Start exploring ways in which graphene can improve your products – before your competitors beat you to it. This webinar explains it more:


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