Global annual production of engineering plastics surpasses the volume of 25 million tons, and the demand for engineering plastics accounts for over 10% of the total demand for plastics worldwide. Superior performance than their standard counterparts has been solidifying the position of engineering plastics as an ideal material for tough engineering applications. Their lighter weight and relatively easy manufacturing in any desired shape will continue to account for widespread adoption as a preferred substitute for traditional engineering materials such as metals, and wood.
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In its upcoming study on the global engineering plastics market, Fairfield Market Research states that engineering plastics are gradually replacing other popular commodity plastics such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). In 2018, China spearheaded the leading market of Asia Pacific on the back of robust demand from the automotive and consumer electronics industries, says research.
Engineering Plastics Find Maximum Application in Automotive Industry
End users in the various industrial verticals, including automotive, building and construction, electronics and electrical, consumer goods, and packaging generate higher demand for engineering plastics as these materials possess excellent chemical and heat resistance, fire retardancy, impact resistance, and mechanical strength. Among the top consumer industries, automotive industry registered the maximum consumption of engineering plastics in 2018, which is attributable to the exploding trend of fuel-efficient, lightweight automobiles that aligns with the world’s future e-mobility drive.
A number of automotive exterior and interior applications have been witnessing replacement of conventional glass and metal materials with engineering plastics. Diminishing fossil fuel reserves and the consecutive price hike, and growing stringency of fuel-efficiency regulations all over the world further complement the growth in demand for engineering plastics in global market. Besides, engineering plastics continue to gain strong ground in electronics and electrical equipment owing to excellent durability, impact resistance, heat resistance, electrical insulation, and freedom of design even within complex electronic structures. This is offering a strong impetus to the engineering plastics market.
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Increasing Demand for Innovative Building Materials Boosts Sales of Engineering Plastics
The unprecedented expansion of building and construction industry, and exploding infrastructural developments will augur well for the growth of engineering plastics market. While this trend is particularly prominent in the developed world, it will highly likely continue in line with the rebound of the construction industry over the recent past. Innovations in building materials are widely leveraged in the non-residential sectors for applications such as roofing systems, window glazing, and skylights. Soaring demand for durable, lightweight materials is fuelling the prospects of engineering plastics, especially polyamide, polycarbonate, and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS).
The medical devices sector is also adopting a shift away from metal, glass, and other conventional materials, which is driving attention towards a more flexible engineering plastics with a competitive price point. However, a sluggish rate of recycling will most likely remain a longstanding challenge facing the industry. While a lot of effort in being invested in building new recycling models to achieve a circular economy in the engineering plastics space, advanced composites are gradually emerging as an equivalent alternative to engineering plastics.
Top Companies Focus on Capacity Expansion and M&A
BASF, Celanese, Covestro, SABIC, Domo, and DSM constitute some of the key players competing in the global engineering plastics market. Key companies are primarily focusing on expanding their production capacities to be able to cater to the surging demand from top consumer industries – automotive, building and construction, and electronics and electrical. New product innovations also remain the preferred growth strategies amid competition. Strategic M&A and joint ventures will remain the profitable moves for those who look forward to an expanded regional and global footprint. BASF SE acquired Solvay’s polyamide business in 2020, whereas DSM has acquired SRF’s engineering plastics division earlier in 2019. To overcome inefficiencies and minimise overall environmental footprint, companies are prioritising adoption of digitalisation in production and logistics.
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