Polymer Bearing Market size is forecast to reach $12 billion by 2025, after growing at a CAGR of 4.5% during 2020-2025. This growth is mainly due to the rising demand in the Asia-Pacific region for polymer bearings. The growth of the global polymer bearing market is further driven by the growing applicability of polymer bearings in the automotive, medical & pharmaceutical, textile, food processing, chemical, office products and semiconductor industries. For use on metal surfaces, polymer bearings are preferred. Over other common bearing materials, polymers offer many advantages. Polymer bearings are resistant to corrosion and chemicals. Such bearings do not transfer heat to other mechanical assembly areas because they are self-lubricating, thus eliminating the risk of failure due to lack of maintenance. Therefore, these factors are driving polymer bearing market growth.
Polymer Bearing Market Segment Analysis – Type of Material
The phenolics material type segment held the largest share in the polymer bearing market in 2019, Due to the growing demand from various end-use industries such as automotive, textiles, food packaging, and semiconductors for phenolic polymer bearings. Phenolic polymer bearings possess properties such as outstanding strength and shock resistance, along with water, acid, alkali solutions resistance. Phenolic polymeric materials serve as self-lubricating materials and in various applications, thus, replacing metal bearings. In heavily loaded systems, they are useful for providing the necessary amount of cooling and clearance. Therefore, owning to the aforementioned properties phenolic material type dominated the market.
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Polymer Bearing Market Segment Analysis – End Use Industry
Automotive sector held the largest share in the polymer bearing market in 2019 and is growing at a CAGR of 4.8% during the forecast period. Due to their properties, such as lightweight, low maintenance, lubrication-free, corrosion & chemical resistant, and high wear & tear resistant, polymer bearings are commonly used in the automotive industry. In this industry, polymer bearings are used to make belt tensioners, centre armrests, pedal systems, gear actuator, steering systems, stub axels, and seating systems. According to OICA, in 2018 the production of light commercial vehicles and heavy trucks increased by 5.9% and 3.5% from 2017. In addition, according to International Energy Agency, in 2018, 3.29 million electric vehicles deployed globally and the number will increase up to 125 million by 2030. This will further support market growth.
Polymer Bearing Market Segment Analysis – Geography
Asia-Pacific held the largest share in the polymer bearing market in 2019 up to 30%, due to increase in demand for polymer bearings in this region from various end-use industries such as automotive, textile, food processing, medical & pharmaceutical, packaging, and chemical. According to OICA, automotive production in countries such as India, Indonesia, and Malaysia have increased by 8%, 10.3% and 12.2% up to 5,174,645, 1,343,714 and 402,085 from 2017. According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, over 27 million vehicles were sold in 2018. In 2017, according to the International Trade Administration (ITA), 1.2 million new passenger cars, SUVs, and commercial vehicles were sold in the Australian market, an increase of 0.9% from 2016. Polymer bearing is used for windshield wipers, shock absorbers, brakes, shafts, doors, gear boxes, engine compartments, angle transmitters, and pedals in the automotive industry. Therefore, growth in automotive production is driving polymer bearing market growth in this region. In addition, the easy availability of raw materials and labor is further anticipated to drive the growth of the Asia-Pacific polymer bearing market.
Polymer Bearing Market Drivers
Increasing demand from automotive industry
The market for polymer bearings is mainly driven by demand from the automotive industry, especially in the manufacturing of vehicles, in order to reduce weight, noise and avoid corrosion. Due to their corrosive and chemical-resistant properties, they are usually applied on the metal surface and probably on other common bearing materials. Because of its auto-lubricate properties, polymer bearing limits the transfer of heat and decreases the chances of failure due to low maintenance. Polymer bearings, relative to metal bearings, are better alternatives for economic growth and are 70 to 80% lighter compared to other metals and thus are commonly used in the automotive sector. According to the International Trade Administration (ITA), China is the world’s largest vehicle market. The Chinese government is expecting that the automobile output will reach 35 million by 2025. This will further support market growth.
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Polymer Bearing Market Challenges
Stringent regulation and low thermal conductivity
The stringent government regulations relating to their use in the food packaging and processing industries, however have limited further expansion of the polymer bearings industry. In addition, fluctuating raw material prices can limit the profitability of the industry, thereby affecting the price trend of polymer bearings. Furthermore, low thermal conductivity phenolic bearings due to friction that requires continuous water feed or lubricating oil to cut down heat may also hamper the market growth.
Technology launches, acquisitions and R&D activities are key strategies adopted by players in the Polymer Bearing Market. In 2019, the market of Polymer Bearing Market has been consolidated by the top five players accounting for the share. Major players in the Polymer Bearing market includes SKF, Boston Gear LLC, IGUS Inc., Saint-Gobain S.A., and BNL Ltd. Other major companies include Oiles Corporation, KMS Bearings, Inc., Dotmar Engineering Plastic Products, among others.
Asia Pacific dominates the polymer bearing market, owning to increasing demand from automotive industry. According to OICA, in 2018 the production of light commercial vehicles has increased by 10.2 % in the APAC region.
In addition, compared to metal bearings, polymer bearings are economical, which makes them a positive option. Due to their non-conductive and corrosion resistant properties, polymers are resistant to acid, alkali, wax and solvents.
Strict government rules & regulations relating to the use of polymer bearings in the food processing and packaging industries are one of the major constraints limiting the growth of the global polymer bearing market.
However, operations in various industries such as textile, automotive, and others is being significantly affected due to the COVID-19 epidemic, as most of countries have issued “stay at home guidance” i.e., lockdown. And it is expected that the outbreak of COVID-19 will be seen in the whole year of 2020, and a few months in 2021. This is limiting polymer bearing market growth.
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