The global market for thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) will grow at an annual rate of over 5 percent over the next five years, researchers at UK-based Smithers Pira have forecast.
The sector has expanded at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.4 percent for since 2012 to reach 4.24 million tonnes in 2017, the firm estimated in a new study of the market.
And, despite its increasing maturity, the researchers expect expansion to continue at a rate of 5.5 percent across the next five years to hit 5.53 million tonnes in 2022.
Styrene-block-copolymer-based materials (TPS), which have long dominated the global TPEs market, are expected to gradually lose market share to other olefinic-based elastomer products over the next five years.
“In 2022, TPS will still be the most important thermoplastic elastomer, but this may not last for very long,” said Smithers Pira, citing its higher price and, with the possible exception of cross-linkable TPS, a lack of significant technical developments in the pipeline.
“Furthermore the low barriers to market-entry for TPS is ensuring that there will continue to be overcapacity for this material for 2017-2022, especially in Asia and in particular China,” said the report titled The Future of Thermoplastic Elastomers to 2022.
The automotive industry remains the principal end-use application for TPEs. This segment grew at an above average rate of 5.9 percent for 2012-2017 and reached 1.84 million tonnes – or 43.4 percent of the total market in 2017.
Smithers Pira's prediction for 2022 is a consumption of 2.46 million tonnes, representing a market share of 44.4 percent and a CAGR of 6 percent.
TPE demand in medical application is also forecast to witness above-average growth for the future, and to a lesser extent packaging.
Appliances and housewares; building and construction; sports, leisure, toys; and wire and cable are showing less-than-average growth but are nevertheless growing above regional GDPs, said the report.