The U.S. consumption rate for high performance films was 12.8 billion pounds in 2005 and reached almost 14 billion pounds in 2006. Growing at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 2.9%, national consumption should cross 16 billion pounds by 2011.
Correspondingly, most high-performance resins had a very significant increase in value in the same time frame, but only a minor increase in average price, from $2.77 to $2.98. Part of the reason was the market devastation wreaked on much of the polyester-based film market due to the dramatic swing to digital formats described in this report.
There was a tilt toward higher-value, higher cost high-performance materials, a trend that will accelerate in the next five years. This is partly by design and partly a result of market forces. Major players, such as DuPont, made corporate decisions to sacrifice markets, particularly in polyesters that had become commoditized, in favor of market development in areas with greater potention, such as solar cells and structural glass laminates.
Extruders define films in different ways, but generally they have thicknesses ranging from 0.001 inch through 0.30 inch. As explained in this report, minimum film thicknesses are trending towards micro as exciting technologies emerge. Most high-temperature films are in the range of 0.001 inch to 0.010 inch.
A word on film thickness units: both English and metric units commonly are used. U.S. film thickness is expressed in gauge. In film technology, gauge is a measurement where one gauge unit equals 0.01 mil or about 0.25 micrometers (microns). Perhaps the easiest way to remember the relationship between these unit systems is that 100-gauge film is 1 mil or 25 microns thick.
SCOPE OF STUDY
This report contains:
- Significant trends affecting high-performance polymer films and their major end-use application markets, including polyesters, nylons, polyolefin-based, polycarbonates, fluoropolymers, cyclic olefin copolymers and polyimides
- Forecasts for specific end markets for high-performance films by material types, with sections devoted to each class of high-performance film
- Analyses and market developments from the viewpoint of major applications for high-performance films including: automotive, electrical/electronic, magnetic media, packaging, photographic/reprographic, and release films
- Environmental and regulatory considerations that affect high-performance films, and their impact on products and markets
- Profiles of the major companies in the industry and a detailed patent analysis.
METHODOLOGY AND INFORMATION SOURCES
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. Additional product and market information was obtained from principals involved in the industry. Other sources included directories, articles and Internet sites.
Douglas A. Smock was the chief editor of Plastics World Magazine from 1986 to 1994 at Cahners Publishing Co. (now part of Reed-Elsevier). He also served as a senior editor of Modern Plastics at McGraw-Hill Publishing Co., associate publisher and editorial director of Modern Mold & Tooling at the McGraw-Hill Publishing Co., and chief editor of Purchasing Magazine at Reed Business Information from 2000 to 2004.
At RBI-US, Smock also served as cochairman of the corporate editorial board. He is the coauthor of Straight to the Bottom Line, a best-selling book in the field of supply management. His second book, which focuses on technology solutions for on-demand supply chain management, will be printed by J Ross Publishing in early 2007. He is the former editor of BCC Research's High Tech Ceramic News. Smock received a bachelor's degree in economics from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH.
The North American market for high-performance films is estimated to be 1.3 billion pounds in 2003 and is expected to rise at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 3.1% to 1.5 billion pounds in 2008.
Based on volume, polyesters, nylons, and polyolefin-based high-performance films account for almost 95% of the total
Lower volume, higher-priced films become account for about 26% of the value, but only 5% based of the volume.
In regard to applications, packaging (mostly foods), photographic/ reprographic, and magnetic media make up about 62% of total film volume.
Polyesters make up some 70% of the volume, but this percentage is slipping slightly.
The high-performance films market is made up of six major resin classes: polyesters (almost exclusively PET films), nylons, polyolefin-based films such as EVOH and PVdC, polycarbonates, fluoropolymers, and polyimides. Also, we discuss and forecast markets for an additional category of newer films, most of which are still developmental; we call this last group "definable other" performance films.
The total market in 1998 is estimated to be about 1.1 billion pounds, which is forecast to grow to almost 1.4 billion pounds by 2003. The value of this market is multibillion dollars; based on the prices of bulk resins it is about $1 billion in 1998 and more than $1.4 billion in 2003. Since films, whose prices vary widely even when fabricated from the same polymer, cost on average two to three times the price of the base resin, the actual dollar value of the performance films market is probably more like $3 billion today and up to $5 billion in 2003.
Polyesters, the dominant performance films, find use in most applications markets and are virtually alone in such end uses as magnetic media and photo/reprographic films. Their market of 825 million pounds in 1998 should grow to about 968 million pounds in 2003.