Wire and Cable: Polymer Materials and Structure

Published - May 2004| Analyst - Charles Forman| Code - PLS032A
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Report Highlights

  • The total market for polymeric materials used in wire and cable in 2003 was about 1,782 million pounds, and should grow to about 2,089 million pounds in 2008 at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of about 3.2%.
  • The largest segment, thermoplastic resin, was 1,482 million pounds in 2003 and is expected to rise at an AAGR of 3.2% to 1,722 million pounds.
  • Thermosetting elastomers had an estimated market of 230 million pounds in 2003; this should grow at a lower 2.3% AAGR to 280 million in 2008.
  • The total market for thermoplastic elastomers is growing at an AAGR of 3.5% and is expected to reach 83 million pounds in 2008.
  • Polymer (or plastic) optical fiber leads growth with an AAGR of 5.9% but currently, only accounts for 15 million pounds.


The U.S. wire and cable industry continues to undergo major technological and societal changes in its markets. These are causing subsequent design and commercial changes in several areas.

Technological changes affecting the industry primarily have been in communications, where fiber optics continue to replace copper wire, and in plenum wire where special insulation is required to withstand potential high temperatures and toxic combustion products. The biggest current dynamic of the past decade or so has been in communications wire and cable. Here, the information technology (IT) explosion and conversion to fiber optics continues to change the form of wiring used for information transmission. Perhaps even more interesting are the societal changes occurring at this time, primarily the explosion in wireless technology. Real and potential effect on the wiring market can be seen immediately.

This report, an update of a 1999 BCC report by the same author, presents the findings of a detailed analysis of the U.S. market for polymers that are used in the wire and cable industry, primarily for wire and cable insulation. Because of the increasing use of fiber optics (FO) that are replacing copper wire in many applications (especially in telecommunications), also included is a detailed analysis of both the polymeric materials used to insulate and cover FO cables and plastic/polymer optic fibers (POFs). POFs are finding increasing acceptance as replacements for both traditional copper conductor and for older glass (silica) optical fiber in short-length applications such as automotive wiring.


The report contains:


  • A full description of the wire and cable industry and its historical perspective
  • Descriptions of the different types of wire and cable products and the polymeric materials with which they are insulated
  • An overview of wire and cable technology and trends and manufacturing methods
  • Analysis of the major end-use markets in the U.S. with market forecasts through 2008
  • Discussions of industry concentration, intermaterial competition, environmental and regulatory issues and international effects on the U.S. industry
  • Identification and profiles of some of the major suppliers of polymeric materials and products for the industry.



Extensive searches were made of the literature and the Internet, including many of the leading trade publications, as well as technical compendia, government publications, and information from trade and other associations. Much product and market information was obtained from the principals involved in the industry. The information for our company profiles was obtained primarily from the companies themselves, especially the larger publicly owned firms. Other sources included directories, articles, and Internet sites.

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