Polymer Alloys and Blends
The polymer alloy/blend market is estimated at 565 million pounds in 1999 and is forecast to increase at a 5.3% average annual growth rate, reaching about 730 million pounds by 2004.
PC-based alloys/blends account for 54% of the total, followed by PPO-based alloys/ blends with 41%, which leaves the other group with 5%. It is important to note that the PC-based resins are growing at a rate 2.3 times that of the PPO-based resins.
Electronic enclosures and automotive industries are the dominant outlets for alloys/blends, making up over 90% of total volume. Appliances, medical, lawn/garden and sports/recreation account for the remaining applications for alloys/blends.
Alloys/blends compete with alloy/blend components, e.g., polycarbonate vs. PC/ABS, and with non-alloy/blend components such as PC/ABS vs. polyurethanes, thermoset polyesters, etc.
STUDY GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
The objective of this study is to provide an analysis of polymer alloys/blend with special emphasis on its competition with other ETPs, upgraded commodity resins, thermoset resins and others.
REASONS FOR THIS STUDY
Traditional studies on polymer alloys/blends usually do not cover the competitive scenario in detail. There is a need to evaluate the impact of these resins in terms of existent and forecast market penetration in its major industries utilizing these types of resins, e.g., automotive, electronic components, electronic enclosures, appliances, medical, lawn/garden equipment, sports/recreation products, etc.
In many instances, alloy/blend components compete with the alloys/blends themselves, while in other instances, competitive products are those with no alloy/blend components. For example, in the first case, ABS competes with PC/ABS; in the second example, thermoset polyesters compete against PC/ABS.
SCOPE AND FORMAT
There are several definitions of polymer alloys/blends, commodity thermoplastics, thermosets, etc. In this report, polymer alloys/blends include any combination of two resins physically alloyed or blended; engineering resins include traditional varieties such as nylons, polycarbonates, polyacetals, and reinforced PET and PBT. Higher performance ETPs include polysulfones, PPS, polyimides, polyketones, liquid crystal polymers, etc.
Commodity thermoplastics include polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene and the advanced styrenics led by ABS, high-impact polystyrene, SMA, etc. Thermosets include unsaturated polyesters (often called thermoset polyesters), phenolics, vinyl esters, etc. Other thermosets involved in these markets include mostly polyurethanes, while several thermoplastic elastomers are also involved.
This report also covers the polymer alloy/blend competitive scene, and in order to analyze these markets, tables and analyses will be provided for competitive resins as well for each major application. The definition of a polymer alloy/blend "competitive" material in this report is based on its possible replacement by an alloy/blend. This scenario goes both ways in that these materials could also replace current alloy/blend usage.
There are resins which alloys/blends will not replace or vice versa and these are excluded from the analysis. As a result, it is important to keep in mind that the alloy/blend competitive resins do not represent total markets for a given application.
As one example, there are certain thermoset polyester applications in auto exteriors that will not be replaced by alloys/blends in the foreseeable future and are thus excluded from the analysis.
A comprehensive review was undertaken of literature relating to polymer alloys/blends, their applications and technology, and significant new developments. Included in the review were supplier trade literature, texts and monographs.
Following collection and analysis of this information unresolved issues were discussed with many within the industry.
In order to ease reading of this report, many acronyms are used, mostly dealing with resin names. The terms "plastic" and "resin" are used interchangeably. The term "alloy/blend" denotes either an alloy or blend except in some cases where suppliers were quite specific in calling their products either alloys or blends. All alloys/blends are written with both components separated by a slash, e.g. PC/ABS being the polycarbonate-ABS alloy/blend. The following is an alphabetical list of acronyms used in the study:
ABS - acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene terpolymer
AES - acrylonitrile-ethylene-styrene terpolymer
ASA - acrylonitrile-styrene-acrylate
COPE - copolyester thermoplastic elastomer
E/E - electrical/electronic industry
ETPs - engineering resins (engineering thermoplastics)
FR - flame-retardant
HDPE - high-density polyethylene
HDT - heat deflection temperature
HIPS - high-impact polystyrene
IP - automobile instrument panel
LCP - liquid crystal polymer
MMA - methyl methacrylate
PBT - poly(butylene terephthalate)
PC - polycarbonate
PCT - poly(cyclohexyldimethylene) terephthalate
PEEK - polyetherketone
PEI - polyetherimide
PES - polyethersulfone
PET - poly(ethyleneterephthalate)
PETG - glycol-modified PET
PP - polypropylene
PPA - polyphthalamide
PPO - polyphenylene oxide
PPS - polyphenylene sulfide
PUR - polyurethane
PS - polystyrene
PVC - polyvinyl chloride
SAN - styrene acrylonitrile copolymer
SBC - styrene block copolymer
SHIPS - super HIPS
SMA - styrene maleic anhydride copolymer
TPE - thermoplastic elastomer
TPO - thermoplastic olefin
TPU - thermoplastic urethane
TSPE - thermoset polyester
UTH - under the hood