Engineering thermoplastics market to grow 3-8% to 2015 – SABIC

03 May 2011 23:16  [Source: ICIS news]

BOSTON (ICIS)--The market for engineering thermoplastics (ETPs) is projected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3–8% globally to 2015, driven by several large trends, a SABIC Innovative Plastics (IP) executive said on Tuesday.

"ETPs will continue to grow. Many megatrends will need material innovation," said Nitin Apte, general manager of global marketing and technology for SABIC IP.

Apte was speaking at a presentation during the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) annual technical conference (ANTEC).

Automotive, consumer electronics and infrastructure will be primary drivers.

According to SABIC IP, roughly 68m automobiles were manufactured globally in 2010. That figure is expected to grow to 87m in 2014 and 100m in 2020, with about half of those vehicles being made in China.

"India and China will be the story of automotive for the next 10 years," Apte said.

A main driver for automotive innovation in those regions will be cars that cost less than $8,000 (€5,360), he said.

While others expect electric vehicles will take up anywhere from 1-20% of the automobile market in 2020, Apte projects that figure to be closer to 5%.

Apte also anticipates a major shift in consumer electronics over the next 10 years as computers become more mobile.

"Desktops are passe. Tablets and smartphones [are] really the direction consumer electronics will follow", providing "many opportunities for ETPs", since smaller, more portable devices will need safe, sturdy and often decorative casings.

Additionally, with so many telecommunication devices being used globally, the risk of electromagnetic interference (EMI) increases, said Apte. SABIC IP has adapted its Faradex polymers to have EMI shielding.

Apte considers solar energy to "be a big trend in the future… a very favourable megatrend", and SABIC IP is introducing new methods to reduce weight and to increase the flexibility and efficiency of solar cells.

In the US, the construction sector has yet to recover, and housing starts may not reach pre-2008 levels for 10 years, but smart metres and light-emitting-diode (LED) retrofits will present opportunities domestically.

Home healthcare will be a strong driver in the US, said Apte, with devices usually used in medical centres and hospitals being redesigned for personal use, where "ease of handling… [and] aesthetics become important".

An emerging technology that the company has hopes for is holographic materials. SABIC IP is pursuing dyes and resin films for that potential market.

"Innovation has many axes… [and] needs perseverance. You need companies like SABIC, with the muscle to [introduce] new polymers to the market," Apte said, adding that the return on investment (ROI) on a new polymer can sometimes take 10-15 years.

"We have to look at the glass as half full," he said.

SPE's ANTEC takes place in Boston from 1–4 May.

($1 = €0.67)

By: Ivan Lerner
+1 713 525 2653

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