US demand to rise 5.8% annually through 2017
US demand for high temperature plastics is forecast to expand 5.8 percent annually to $3.1 billion in 2017, with volume exceeding 300 million pounds. Advances will be propelled by the ongoing adoption of high temperature plastics in place of more conventional materials (such as metal, glass, and other polymers) due to their exceptional performance properties. Gains will be further supported by an improving economic outlook and rising consumer confidence, which will boost durable goods output.
Performance attributes to drive market applications
High temperature plastics possess a number of exceptional performance attributes, which will continue to stimulate demand in a widening array of applications. For instance, they are gaining use in motor vehicle applications due to their ability to provide the necessary heat and chemical resistance, strength, and durability, while also enabling automakers to reduce vehicle weight, thus enhancing fuel economy. Moreover, the use of plastics allows for greater design freedom, parts integration, and the elimination of certain production processes, which can increase efficiency and reduce overall manufacturing costs. In the electronics sector, more stringent technical and environmental specifications will promote the use of high temperature plastics that are inherently flame retardant and do not contain halogenated additives. In addition, the ability of these resins to withstand heat, radiation, and chemical exposure that may be encountered during sterilization cycles will continue to fuel demand in the rapidly growing medical market.
Fluoropolymers to continue offering best opportunities
Fluoropolymers are by far the largest type of high temperature plastic, accounting for nearly half of total market value in 2012. Although advances in this large sector are expected to trail the average, fluoropolymers will continue to offer the best opportunities for growth, accounting for more than 40 percent of market value gains between 2012 and 2017. The widespread use of polytetrafluoroethylene in the large industrial market will promote overall gains, particularly as opportunities in applications such as chemical processing and industrial filtration continue to arise. Moreover, a substantial rebound in nonresidential building activity, especially in the office and commercial sector, will spur demand for fluorinated ethylene propylene, which is widely used in wire and cable applications due to its low dielectric constant, flexibility, and superior heat and fire resistance.
Polyketones to be fastest growing product
Among high temperature plastics, polyketones are anticipated to see the most rapid demand gains through the forecast period, albeit from a relatively small base. Advances will be fueled by efforts to extend the use of these high priced, high performance materials into new applications, particularly in the medical field. For instance, these biocompatible resins are gaining use in orthopedic implants. Overall demand will be spurred by efforts on the part of producers to market polyketones as a lightweight alternative to metals in a variety of demanding applications, including those found in the oil and gas, and wind energy sectors. Polyphenylene sulfide and sulfone polymers are also projected to achieve above average gains, propelled by rising motor vehicle output and efforts to produce more fuel efficient vehicles.