Post-Polymerization Polymer Modification: Materials and Applications

Published - Feb 2001| Analyst - Melvin Schlechter| Code - PLS016B
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Report Highlights

  • The structural polymer modifier market is estimated at almost 1 billion pounds in 2000 and should increase to about 1.3 billion pounds by 2005, corresponding to a 5.1% annual growth rate.
  • Impact modifiers will experience steady growth, partly because a significant volume of these materials is used with PVC - a polymer whose growth is fairly consistent in spite of its "unfavorable" environmental profile. Reinforcing agents will show a steady +5% annual growth rate because they are cost-effective modifiers that improve polymer properties.
  • The low-volume modifiers, consisting of compatibilizers, coupling agents, and nucleating/clarifying agents total approximately 57 million pounds in 2000. They are characterized by higher prices and higher growth rates. By 2005, 76.8 million pounds will be sold, reflecting an average annual growth rate of over 6.1% per year.

INTRODUCTION

STUDY GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

The objective of this study is to provide a market analysis of polymer property modifiers developed via post-polymerization processes as opposed to those properties imparted by new catalyst polymerization technologies.

Market estimates and forecasts will be included for selected major property modifiers and their polymer substrates. Major applications will be discussed in qualitative terms. Important property modifier suppliers, their product lines, and other important factors that impact this market will be discussed, and estimated sales and market shares provided where feasible.

REASONS FOR DOING THIS STUDY

There is continuing interest in upgrading both commodity and specialty polymers. Recently, there has been a great deal of activity in catalyst polymerization technologies as one means of improving polymer properties.

Another major technique to upgrade polymers is via post-polymerization methods during compounding. Improved property modifiers, along with the introduction of new modifying materials, has prompted interest, which led to this study.

Impact modifiers, reinforcing agents, compatibilizers, coupling agents, and nucleating/clarifying agents were selected for this study because of their advantageous effects on polymer properties.

SCOPE AND FORMAT

This study describes the chemistry, properties, and markets for structural modifiers used with specific polymer substrates and in overall applications. The report provides current estimates and 5-year forecasts (in millions of pounds) by property modifier type.

The difference between modifiers and additives is not really clear. Modifiers are generally used to change a specific property, while additives add a characteristic to a polymer. The latter normally includes substances such as flame retardants, colorants, and heat/light stabilizers.

This report also covers polymer alloys/blends, since they are involved with compatibilizers and are often impact modified.

The polymer property modifiers quantitatively reviewed in this study are:

  • impact modifiers;
  • reinforcing agents;
  • compatibilizers;
  • coupling agents; and
  • nucleating/clarifying agents.

Where feasible, volumes of polymers modified will be included. An Appendix of Selected Plastic Acronyms is included at the end of this report that contains definitions of terms used in this study.

EXCLUSIONS

Since any additive to a polymer is, in essence, a modifier because it affects properties of the substrate, this field (modifiers/additives) is very large.

Generally, this report will focus on thermoplastics, although some discussion of thermosets will be included. By necessity, the following will also be generally excluded: fragrances, plasticizers, antioxidants, light and heat stabilizers, catalysts, flame retardants, colorants, blowing agents, and processing aids.

The confusing issue of how to deal with elastomer-containing thermoplastics versus various polymer alloys/blends is a thorny one. For the purposes of this study, where the elastomeric component is significant the product will be considered a polymer alloy/blend and will be generally excluded. Wherein the elastomeric portion is not significant, it will be viewed as a modifier of a thermoplastic and thus included.

METHODOLOGY

Information was gathered from suppliers' trade literature, followed by a detailed analysis of trade magazines from 1995 to the present. Technical texts were consulted to clarify important points, and unresolved issues were clarified by discussions with major polymer property modifier producers and suppliers and others within the industry. "Millions" are often abbreviated to "MM". The term "alloys/blends," is used to denote either alloys or blends

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