Like many plastic materials, thermoplastic elastomers are being challenged by the impacts of COVID-19.
"TPEs generally will be hurt by the economic effects of the COVID crisis, especially with the downturn in the auto and durables sectors," market veteran Bob Eller said in an email to Plastics News.
Smaller, highly leveraged compounders could have trouble bouncing back from an extended shutdown, according to Eller, president of Robert Eller Associates LLC in Akron, Ohio.
"We could see a restructuring of supply chains and reshoring as we return to more regional markets," he said.
At the same time, some TPEs such as styrenic block copolymers (SBCs) and thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPUs) could benefit from the outbreak with gains in existing and new applications in the medical sector, Eller added.
SBCs could gain in numerous medical applications such as elastics in masks, soft-touch applications, gaskets, tubing, blood bags, IV bags and adhesives. SBCs also could see increased use as impact modifiers in PP as PVC alternatives.
TPUs — either alone or in blends — could benefit from demand increases for applications such as tubing, catheters, cardiology delivery, film applications and elastic uses where toughness and tear strength are required. TPUs also could be used more in coated fabrics for mattresses, inflatables, pressure garments and breathable films.