Global Copolyester Elastomers market size is forecast to reach US$905.3 million by 2027 after growing at a CAGR of 4.1% during the forecast period 2022-2027. Copolyester elastomers (COPE) are high-performance, high-temperature elastomers that combine the characteristics of thermoplastics and elastomers. They have the elasticity of rubber and can also be molded and remolded like plastic. Copolyester elastomers are block copolymers, they are two types of chemical units that repeat and constitute the chainlike molecules and occur in long sequences or blocks. The hard sequences consist of polybutylene terephthalate, polyester resin. The soft sequences consist of either a number of polyesters or polyethers. They are mostly preferred for automotive applications, they are made into solid tires, gaskets, hoses, air ducts, etc., and other automotive parts especially where resistance to heat, chemicals, and oil is required. The trend of light-weighting in the automotive industry has increased the demand for copolyester elastomers; thereby, fueling the market growth. Furthermore, the development of biobased copolymer elastomers is also expected to drive the copolyester elastomers market substantially during the forecast period.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every industry across the globe in one way or another. A common issue plaguing every industry is that the availability of raw materials has dramatically reduced. This has severely impacted the overall market in general. The automobile industry has been impacted owing to shortages of labor, safety concerns, social distancing policies, and government-imposed lockdowns which have led to the closing down of manufacturing plants. According to the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (OICA), a total of 55.8 million cars were produced in 2020 compared to 67.14 million in 2019. Even when economic activities resumed, supply chain constraints, shortage of shipping containers are posing problems. This has in turn resulted in lower demand and consumption of copolyester elastomers in 2020.
Copolyester Elastomers Market Segment Analysis – By Processing Method
The injection molding segment held the largest share of more than 25% in the copolyester elastomers market in 2021. Injection molding is the highly used method in copolyester elastomer processing due to its high productivity. Injection molding is a clean process and there is no waste formation. It is used for producing a variety of products ranging from tubes or gaskets to finished products. Overall, copolyester elastomer is an easy, workable material and results in shorter cycle times, greater flexibility, and improved formability over other thermoplastic elastomers. Thus, the injection molding segment is set to dominate the copolyester elastomers market during the forecast period.
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Copolyester Elastomers Market Segment Analysis – By Grade
The industrial grade held the largest share in the copolyester elastomers market in 2021. Copolyester elastomers comprises of hard and soft segments that are linked together by mechanical interactions and strong forces of attraction. Unlike vulcanized rubber, they are not chemically linked which gives them an advantage of heating above the melting point of the crystalline domains (approximately 200 °C) and then reprocessed. Due to this, they have properties such as low-temperature flexibility and flex fatigue, good resistance to weathering, chemicals, wear, and heat making them superior to vulcanized rubber. Hence, they are widely used in the automotive, electronics, consumer goods, textile, and building & construction industries. Therefore, the industrial grade is set to dominate the copolyester elastomers market.
Copolyester Elastomers Market Segment Analysis – By End-Use Industry
The automotive segment held the largest share of more than 30% in the copolyester elastomers market in 2021. Copolyester elastomers combine the flexibility of rubber and the strength and of thermoplastics. The durability of copolyester elastomers makes them an essential component of automotive parts such as gaskets, hoses, air ducts, etc. It has high flexibility, can flex and recover easily, and thus offer excellent flex fatigue and tear resistance. In the automobile industry, copolyester elastomers are extensively used to produce automobile parts that need to have heat, chemical and oil resistance. Copolyester elastomers are used in petrol and diesel engines hot charge air ducts, where resistance to high temperatures is needed for extended periods of time. Copolyester elastomers are used extensively because of their properties such as being lightweight and cost-effective compared to rubber. As a result, the growing focus in the automotive industry is projected to fuel the growth of the copolyester elastomers market over the forecast period.
Copolyester Elastomers Market Segment Analysis – By Geography
The Asia-Pacific region held the largest share in the copolyester elastomers market in 2021 up to 45%, owing to the increasing production in automotive and electronics industries in China, India, South Korea, and Japan. The growing emphasis on safety and mandates on airbags as an essential safety accessory is creating an opportunity for the copolyester elastomers market. In India, a gazette notification from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways made it mandatory for all new cars to come fitted with dual airbags from 1 April 2021. The Gazette also lays down that all existing vehicles on sale would require to be equipped with dual airbags as standard by 31 December 2021. Several regulatory bodies introduced emission standards that are causing an increase in the usage of low-weight materials to rise fuel efficiency and high performance in the automotive industry. This, in turn, is driving the demand for copolyester elastomers. China VIA is the most recent emissions standard in the country. The new standard was introduced at the beginning of 2021 and is expected to deliver significant improvements in traffic-related pollution. China VIB, the second phase of China VI, is expected to launch in 2023. China VIA legislation is similar to Euro 6. European emissions standards have been seen as the gold standard in emissions regulation. According to the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA), electronic components and devices production increased by 108.6% in March 2021, in comparison to the previous year. Thus, with the automotive industry back on track, there will be an upsurge in the demand for automotive components, which is anticipated to drive the copolyester elastomers market in the Asia-Pacific region.
Copolyester Elastomers Market Drivers
Development of Biobased Copolyester Elastomers
Copolyester elastomers are versatile materials that have a wide variety of product applications. These rubber substitutes are known for their durability, pliability, and strength. They are used extensively in the automotive industry as durable, puncture-resistant seals, and as protection for wire and cables. They can also be formulated to be soft to be made into as toys for small children free from harmful chemicals such as phthalates and bisphenol A. Biodegradability is a great addition to all of the other properties mentioned. This also contributes towards making the product more sustainable. Greendot has developed Terratek Flex GDH-B1 which is marketed as the first biodegradable elastomer verified to meet US and EU standards for compostability in an industrial composting environment. Terratek Flex is a starch-based elastomer that is strong, durable, and pliable with a soft touch. It has been tested by NSF International and is verified to meet child safety standards in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Hence, the development of such biodegradable copolyester elastomers acts as a market driver.
Rising Demand in the Medical Industry
Copolyester elastomers are being used to replace conventional materials such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and silicone rubber in various applications that require flexibility and elasticity, for example, in IV bags, tubing, syringe stoppers, etc. The medical and healthcare sector is moving away from PVC and silicone due to environmental and health concerns. Although not a large volume market, the medical device area has been using copolyester elastomers. In addition to their versatility, they often simplify manufacturing and can be used safely in many medical applications. Chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, influenza, and COVID-19 are driving the demand for medical devices, which is increasing the demand for copolyester elastomers in medical applications. According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), 6 in 10 adults in the United States are suffering from chronic diseases. As per the National Health Council, 133 million Americans, approximately 40% of the total population, are suffering from chronic diseases and this increases the demand for medical devices. Medical tubes, catheters, and syringes are some of the most used medical devices. In medical devices, copolyester elastomers are being used to replace rubber and PVC as they are non-allergenic. This is a good alternative for people who are sensitive to latex. Thus, the rising demand in the medical industry acts as a driver for the copolyester elastomers industry.
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Copolyester Elastomers Market Challenges
Volatility in Raw Material Prices
Copolyester elastomers are block copolymers made up of hard and soft sequences. The hard segments are generally aromatic polyesters such as polyethylene terephthalate, polytrimethylene terephthalate, or polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) while the soft segments are polyethers or polyesters with long chains such as polyethylene glycol, polytetramethylene glycol, or polysebacate ethylene glycol. Prices of polybutylene terephthalate rose in the APAC region in Q3 2021. PBT is majorly imported from China, its prices consistently increased throughout the quarter due to increasing freight rates and supply chain constraints caused by the Delta variant. As the demand from the automotive industry rebounded after the resumption of economic activities, the hike in PBT prices continued. For instance, in India, prices of PBT Injection Moulding grade rapidly rose from USD 3690/MT in July to USD 3832/MT in September. The volatility in raw material prices can affect the copolyester elastomers market and constraint the market growth.
Copolyester Elastomers Industry Outlook
Technology launches, acquisitions, and R&D activities are key strategies adopted by players in this market. Copolyester Elastomers top 10 companies include:
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A. Thermoplastic Elastomers Market
B. Elastomers Market
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