Cellulose acetate butyrate (CAB) is an amorphous, transparent thermoplastic material with uses from trim for automobiles to tool handles, pens and blister packaging among others. It can be melted and remodeled into new shapes without altering its molecular structure. It is resistant to ultraviolet rays, has low moisture absorption and high impact strength. In addition it has high transparency, aesthetic appeal, high dielectric constant, excellent machinability, compatibility with human skin and ability to be offered in unlimited range of colors.
It has soft and pliable nature and can be stretched up to 60% of its original length. It is expensive than its precursor cellulose acetate because of additional steps necessary in producing the compound. Since, cellulose acetate butyrate is resistant to ultraviolet, it can be used for applications where high surface gloss is needed such as production of lacquers for lenses and for various forms of plastic film.
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Cellulose acetate butyrate is resistant to household chemicals and can be used in manufacture of numerous types of toys and sporting goods. Since, cellulose acetate butyrate has low electrical conductivity, high internal resistance and external resistance, it serves as a good insulating material. It also finds variety of applications in products such as textile fibers, wound dressings, photography, slip covers, steering wheels, goggles, pneumatic system traps and magnetic tape among others. Majority of cellulose acetate butyrate is consumed for making cigarette filters.
Cigarette tow and textiles are the key end use application for cellulose acetate butyrate. The major demand comes from cigarette filter tow manufacturing companies that are also engaged in manufacture of textile fibers. Rising consumption of cigarette in low to middle income countries such as China and India, introduction of longer cigarette filters, preference for low tar cigarettes is driving the demand for cellulose acetate butyrate.
Absence of stringent government regulations regarding cigarette consumption and demand for lesser emission of nicotine in the smoke is also accelerating the demand for cellulose acetate butyrate in emerging economies. A company must incur huge sunk costs to build a dedicated production facility, this act as a significant barrier for new players to enter the cellulose acetate butyrate market.
Cellulose acetate butyrate is a mature product and growth has slowed down in the U.S and Western Europe. Cigarette applications are getting diminished in Europe and the U.S as a result of increased awareness of health hazards of smoking and stringent government regulations. Demand for cellulose acetate butyrate is growing in Eastern and Central Europe, India, China and Latin America as cigarette consumption is growing in these regions. The Asia Pacific region is the largest consumer for Cellulose acetate butyrate. It is also one of the fastest growing regions for cellulose acetate butyrate, largely driven by filter tow market.
China is the largest market in terms of filter tow consumption and new cellulose acetate filter tow production facilities and capacity expansions are expected to be constructed in China in the coming years. There is also a shift of textile production facilities from western countries towards China that favors the growth of domestic market.
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The key companies in the cellulose acetate butyrate market include
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