US Reinforced Plastics Demand to Reach 4.2 Billion Pounds in 2011

19 June 2007

US reinforced plastics demand will reach 4.2 billion pounds in 2011, driven by broadened applications and enhanced competitiveness with steel and aluminium.

Thermoset resins will remain dominant while thermoplastics will grow faster. Glass fibres will stay the dominant reinforcement material while nanomaterials will lead gains, according to a new study by Freedonia.

This study analyzes the $6.7 billion US reinforced plastics industry. It presents historical (1996, 2001 and 2006) demand data and forecasts to 2011 and 2016 by reinforcement (e.g., glass, carbon), resin (e.g., polyester, epoxy, polypropylene, thermoplastic polyester, nylon, styrenics, polycarbonate) and market (e.g., motor vehicles, construction, producer durable equipment).

The study also considers market environment factors, details industry structure, evaluates company market share and profiles 42 major players AOC, Ashland Chemical, Reichhold, Interplastic, Hexion Specialty Chemicals, and Cook Composites and Polymers.

Glass fibres will continue to be the dominant reinforcement material in plastic, but carbon fibres are expected to increase 9% annually and nanomaterials will emerge commercially.

Reinforced plastics demand is projected to increase 2.8 percent annually to 4.2 billion pounds in 2011, valued at $8.1 billion. This will create a market for 2.8 billion pounds of resin and 1.4 billion pounds of reinforcements. Material substitution will remain the driving force behind advances. Higher performance requirements, combined with resin, reinforcement and processing improvements, will broaden applications and enhance competitiveness with steel and aluminium. Glass fibres, due to their low cost and good performance, will continue to be the dominant reinforcement material in 2011, but carbon fibres are expected to increase nine percent annually to 32 million pounds and nanomaterials will emerge commercially, with demand reaching almost five million pounds.

Thermoset resins, primarily unsaturated polyester, will continue to account for over 60 percent of all reinforced plastics in 2011. Demand for reinforced thermosets is projected to expand 2.7 percent yearly to 2.5 billion pounds in 2011, driven by their low cost and performance attributes such as strength and corrosion resistance. Product innovations and improved sheet moulding compounds and environmentally friendly low-styrene-content formulations will also spur growth. Niche opportunities are expected in areas such as pedestrian and vehicular bridge decking and wind turbine blades. Unsaturated polyester will remain the leading resin, accounting for 91 percent of all thermosets in 2011. Opportunities for reinforced epoxy are anticipated in military and commercial aircraft and aerospace applications.

Faster growth, however, is anticipated for thermoplastics due to their better aesthetics and easier processing. Reinforced thermoplastics demand is forecast to grow 3.0 percent annually to 1.6 billion pounds in 2011 due to their competitive cost, high performance capabilities, processing advantages and better design capabilities. Polypropylene will remain the leading thermoplastic and present above average growth based on its low cost, stiffness and dimensional stability, particularly in motor vehicle uses. Reinforced polycarbonate will expand at the fastest pace due to its dimensional stability, impact strength and other properties, making it particularly amenable to motor vehicle and producer durable equipment uses. Thermoplastic polyester and nylon will also present good opportunities due to their high heat resistance, strength and durability.

The study is available from NetComposites at the link below

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