Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) Market, also known as thermoplastic rubbers, are a relatively new class of advanced high-performance polymers that behave like thermoset rubber within their design limits. Thermoplastic elastomers is melt-processable above their melting or softening temperature and unlike thermoset rubber, they can be easily reprocessed and remolded using thermoplastic processing techniques.
Reports estimates that global thermoplastic elastomers market size will surpass a valuation of US$20 billion by 2023, with sustained requirements across the automotive and construction industries.
This unique ability of thermoplastic rubber allows for a greater degree of freedom of design and fabrication compared to thermoset rubbers. As a result, many families of injection-moldable thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) are gradually replacing traditional thermoplastic rubbers.
Thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU), styrene block copolymers (SBC), thermoplastic polyolefins (TPO), thermoplastic vulcanizates (TPV), and copolyester elastomers are the different types of TPEs. These advanced materials are also prominently used to modify the properties of rigid thermoplastics, such as enhancing the impact strength and resistance.
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Thermoplastic polyurethanes to gain traction
Thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPUs) have considerable potential for tackling the manufacturing challenges of a rapidly evolving world. TPUs are generally preferred in automotive, construction, electronics, and other applications owing to their exceptional versatility. They can be used to enhance the performance and boost the thermoplastic elastomers market production of anything from footwear to conveyor belts, cables, filters, films, and seals.
Construction sector: Thermoplastic polyurethane, often referred to as the bridge between plastics and rubbers, is a melt-processable thermoplastic elastomer with excellent durability and flexibility. It is widely preferred in the construction industry as it adds value and enhance the durability as well as aesthetics of construction materials for both residential and commercial buildings. The unique structure of the materials results in high resilience, superior compressions set, and excellent resistance to abrasion, impact, weather, and wear and tear. The use of TPU in insulation materials can significantly boost the energy-efficiency of buildings.
Many developing regions are expected to invest substantially in infrastructure development to accommodate a rapidly-increasing urban population. For instance, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) predicts that emerging economies in the Asia Pacific region will need to spend US$26 trillion through 2030 to maintain the current thermoplastic elastomers market growth momentum. It is also estimated that India’s residential and non-residential construction sector will expand by 6.6% in 2020, driven by fiscal support and a strong government focus to offer affordable housing in urban areas.
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Automotive sector: Besides the construction sector Thermoplastic elastomers market finds extensive application in the automaking business. The implementation of TPU products in auto parts and components results in greater fuel-efficiency and lower carbon emissions, as they are lighter compared to other commonly used alternatives.
Robust economic growth and a significant rise in consumer income levels has considerably increased the demand for passenger cars. According to European Automobile Manufacturers Association, more than 80 million passenger vehicles were manufactured across the globe in 2017. Similar trends in the forthcoming years will certainly boost the demand or thermoplastic polyurethane.
COVID-19 impact and the path to recovery
Constant fluctuations in raw material prices and the lack of availability of raw materials amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis are likely to be a notable factor restricting Thermoplastic elastomers market demand and supply. The pandemic has also forced automakers and builders to temporarily halt vehicle production as well as construction projects.
However, all countries are expected to boost their efforts in order to bring the economy back on track through ways to handle the coronavirus crisis, which will offer lucrative opportunities to global TPE manufacturers. Moreover, growing adoption of TPEs as a more sustainable alternative to thermoset rubbers will complement the industry outlook.
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