Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPE) Market Achieve Mildstone of 3.82 million tons

In 2014, the global thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) market was estimated at 3.82 million tons. The rising replacement of ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) by TPE in construction equipment is likely to fuel the product market. The superior chemical and physical properties of the product as opposed to thermoset plastics are expected to widen the application scope, thereby aiding market demand.

The growing application of TPE in electronics, consumer goods, construction, and footwear is expected to have a positive impact on the product demand. The rising demand for TPE in the automotive industry owing to the changes in consumer preferences regarding lightweight and high performance passenger cars has been instrumental in driving the market growth.

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The characteristics of the product to be recycled, re-shaped, and re-molded result in minimizing the product wastage, resulting in high application scope. The product acts as substitutes for conventional plastic and rubber on account of its attributes including resistance to oxidation, UV, chemicals coupled with imparting soft-touch.

The regulations by federal bodies including US Pharmacopeia, FDA promote safety and health ensuring the product utilization in various end-use industries. In addition, the environmental norms by various governments regarding reduction in carbon emission by increasing fuel efficiency is expected to witness a subsequent growth in the product application in automotive OEMs as an alternative to alloys and metals.

The fluctuating prices of major raw materials including polyurethane, propylene, and styrene is likely to hamper the market growth.

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The products are bifurcated as SBC, TPO, COPES, TPV, and TPU together with melt processable rubber & thermoplastic polyamides. SBC contributed to over 47% of the global market volume in 2014. The major SBC product consumed is SBC accounting for over 70% of the total product volume. The increasing demand for SIS in India & China in the automotive industry is likely to aid the product segment. The leading application segment for SBC was roofing & paving contributing to over 35% of product volume.

The rising demand in automotive industry for high performance plastics is likely to propel TPV segment growth. The penetration of TPU in the construction sector is growing on account of its acoustic and thermal insulating properties. In addition, the rise in consumer awareness regarding sustainability coupled with regulatory framework regarding zero energy construction is anticipated to fuel TPU growth in the sector.

Regional Insights

Asia Pacific contributed to over 40% of the global product consumption in 2014. The industrial growth in this region is on account of favorable government norms coupled with monetary policies regarding private investments. The major contributors to TPE consumption India and China are estimated to grow exponentially at around 66% during the analysis period.

North America accounts for over 35% of the TPO product consumption market. The rising demand for the product in the construction & industrial sector is likely to propel market growth. The industrial growth in the region is based on increased application scope coupled with high R&D activities by local companies. The increased production in the automotive sector in Mexico and US coupled with the growth of consumer & construction industries is likely to have a positive impact on the TPE demand during the analysis period.

Competitive Insights

The global TPE market is highly fragmented with the major four companies contributing to over 45% of the market share. These major companies include Lyondell Basell, Sinopec, Kraton Polymers, and Dow Chemical Company. The other key players include Kraton, Evonik, Dynasol Elastomers, Bayer Material Science, and Arkema.

The key companies are changing their production to the emerging markets in India, China, Southeast Asia, and Brazil. This production shift can be characterized by favorable production conditions including low labor, raw material & operational costs. The presence of local suppliers in Japan and China is likely to increase the competition.

The major manufacturers Zeon and Muller Kunstsoffe are expanding to Japan and China. In addition, Mitsubishi is engaged in R&D for developing eco-friendly bio-based TPU and improving manufacturing processes by the elimination of phosgene toxics.