Thermoplastic Elastomers Market-Snapshot

Thermoplastic elastomers are materials that possess properties of both elastomers and plastics. All thermoplastic elastomer materials are based on a hard thermoplastic and a soft elastomer. Thermoplastic elastomers are eco-friendly in nature. They are easy to recycle. The unique combination of properties of vulcanized rubber and easy processability of thermoplastic makes thermoplastic elastomers suitable to be used in a wide range of applications in end-user industries such as automotive, building & construction, medical, consumer goods, and others. Thermoplastic elastomers have excellent physical properties such as high dimensional stability, chemical inertness, good vapor and gas transmission properties, and flexibility.

About 85% of plastic products in the modern world are made of thermoplastic elastomer materials. Thermoplastic elastomers can be prepared by melt mixing, solution blending, or latex mixing. Thermoplastic elastomers can be extruded and molded and, when required, they can regain their original shape. Thermoplastic elastomers offer a wide range of performance attributes such as heat and oil resistance, improved adhesion, tear resistance, surface appearance, and low permeability. Thermoplastic elastomers are resistant to heat, UV radiations, humidity, biological degradation, etc. They are widely used in over-molding and encapsulation applications. Asia Pacific has become a hub of automotive production over the last few years. Currently, the region accounts for more than 50% of the global production. The automotive industry in countries such as China, India, and Japan is anticipated to expand significantly during the forecast period.

Attractive properties of thermoplastic elastomers such as weather resistance, oil and grease resistance, abrasion resistance, and vibration damping make manufacturers of various end-products rely on these elastomers. Rise in population and increase in the income of the middle class in developing economies are driving the global thermoplastic elastomers market. Increase in sales of automobiles in developing economies such as China and India and the presence of global auto-manufacturers such as Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Nissan in Japan are likely to propel the demand for thermoplastic elastomers in Asia Pacific during the forecast period. Across the globe, fuel-efficient technologies are being adopted widely. Thermoplastic elastomers enhance the fuel efficiency of automobiles. Global automobile production has increased by over 15% since 2010, with Asia Pacific accounting for more than 50% of the global production. Demand for thermoplastic elastomers is increasing in the building & construction sector also. Thermoplastic elastomers can be used in plumbing fixtures, siding, flooring, insulation, panels, doors, windows, glazing, bathroom units, gratings, railings, and structural and interior or decorative applications.

In terms of type, the global thermoplastic elastomers market has been classified into block copolymers, blends, and others. Block copolymers include thermoplastic polystyrene, thermoplastic polyurethane, thermoplastic copolyesters, and thermoplastic amides. Thermoplastic polystyrenes is the most used type of thermoplastic elastomers. Blends include thermoplastic polyolefins and thermoplastic vulcanizates. Based on application, the thermoplastic elastomers market can be categorized into automotive, building & construction, medical, and consumer goods. The automotive application segment can be sub-segmented into wires & cables, under-hood bonnets, exteriors. The building & construction segment can be sub-classified into seals & gaskets, expansion joints, and others. The medical segment can be sub-divided into tubing, catheters, grips, and others.

Governments across the globe are increasingly investing in material research and development activities. Innovation in plastics in the automotive industry is a major factor driving the global thermoplastic elastomers market. Thermoplastic elastomers are increasingly being used in the automotive sector. Auto components that can be manufactured by using thermoplastic elastomers include control elements, air bags, anti-slip mats, window trims, cowl panels, spoilers, seals, and air duct components. Demand for thermoplastic elastomers is on the rise in the building & construction sector as well. Thermoplastic elastomers require lower fabrication cost and shorter processing time and they offer higher design flexibility as compared to thermosets. Rising consumption in consumer goods and electrical & electronics (E&E) sectors is also driving the demand for thermoplastic elastomers. The medical industry is experiencing increase in the demand for thermoplastic elastomers for use in tubing, catheters, grips (razors and surgical tools), seals, vial closures, drug delivery or monitoring patches, and connectors. Styrenic block copolymers are largely used in medical applications. They are used in bags for infusion solutions, components of medical devices, disposables (for syringes and tubing), and implants such as artificial heart valves and joints. Thermoplastic elastomers offer high oxygen barrier performance and hence, they are used in consumer goods as well as packaging applications.

Key players operating in the global thermoplastic elastomers market include Exxon Mobil Corporation, Covestro, Huntsman Corporation, BASF SE, E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Celenese Corporation, PolyOne Corporation, Arkema Group, SABIC, and KRATON Corporation. Manufacturers are striving to produce thermoplastic elastomers with good sealing performance, reduced cost, high resistance to heat and chemicals, and reduced weight.