DETROIT - The auto industry's demand for polypropylene-based materials is expected to remain strong through the next decade, with combined consumption of PP and thermoplastic olefins rising from the current 600 million pounds to more than 1 billion pounds by the year 2005, according to an outlook from Montell Polyolefins. Within the automotive plastics market, which accounted for 1.9 billion pounds of material consumption in 1995, PP and TPOs have made major gains in both interior and exterior applications.
In exteriors, TPOs have won favor for body side moldings and bumper covers. The bumper market, which is converting in large part from polyurethane-reaction injection molding to TPO, may account for more than 200 million pounds of TPO consumption a decade from now, Montell predicts.
Material suppliers and automotive molders have improved the paintability of TPO exterior trim and now are working to streamline the process, said Stephen M. Dwyer, technical director for Montell. One way to achieve this streamlining is possibly to eliminate the adhesion promoter step.
``We're through the learning curve now so that TPO materials are very paintable,'' Dwyer said.
Interior designers are increasingly specifying PP for its relative lower cost compared with other plastics and its recyclability. For interiors, PP should grow to a 350 million pound market by 2005, Montell said.
Even as the automotive PP and TPO market expands, Montell is looking at emerging automotive markets around the world as a long-term growth opportunity.
``We think it's going to be the key from our standpoint in how the market grows,'' said Donald P. Drummond, vice president of sales and marketing.