The electroactive polymer market reached about 130 million pounds in 2003. Rising at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 9.8%; this market is expected to cross 200 million pounds in 2008.
The market currently is dominated by conductive plastics, but over the next five years, ICPs will increase their market share in volume, and, more dramatically, in dollar value.
ICPs will rise at an AAGR of 33.4% to over 15 million pounds in 2008, with a value of some $600 million.
By contrast, conductive plastics will continue to rise at an AAGR of 8.7%, exceeding GDP, but less than ICPs and will reach 190 million pounds in 2008.
Organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) currently are the largest ICP application.
STUDY GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
The major objective of this report is to analyze electroactive, or conductive, polymers both inherently conductive polymers (ICPs) and traditional conductively filled thermoplastics in terms of their competitive scenario in specific applications. Another goal is to develop a reasonable scenario for ICP markets outside of its competitive posture vis-à-vis traditional conductively filled thermoplastics.
REASONS FOR DOING THE STUDY
Conductive polymers, best described as electroactive polymers, comprise groups of materials, which include conductive plastics, ICPs and very highly specialized polymers with both electrical and/or optical characteristics (electro-optic polymers).
Conductive plastics are made from traditional thermoplastics containing fillers that render them conductive, while ICPs conduct electricity on their own, and electro-optic polymers develop optical characteristics under influence of an applied electric field.
Although conductive plastics mimic conductivity of metals (particularly copper and steel), insulative resins employing a conductive filler (e.g., metal or carbon powder, or fiber) achieve a measure of conductivity. However, there are generally compromises in terms of processibility or performance, or total part economics. Thus continues the search for alternate conductive plastics such as ICPs.
By the mid-1990s, commercialization of ICPs was still in its infancy. Production of these materials had been scaled up from grams to pounds, but overall global production and consumption totals were still negligible.
Even though several major companies had given up on ICPs, researchers and other commercial and educational institutions were pushing ahead. Literally hundreds of papers and patents on ICPs are published each year. Clearly, there are a great many scientists and corporations who are still optimistic about significant commercial successes of ICPs and, indeed, usage has increased over the last five years.
Electro-optic polymers (EO polymers) are further removed from commercialization than ICPs. However, there might be greater potential in the long term for EO polymers, compared with those of ICPs, because optical applications may be more far-reaching than electrical uses.
Clearly, there is a need for an objective appraisal of ICPs versus traditional conductive plastic markets.
ICPs have a wide variety of potential applications such as: electrostatic dissipation (ESD) control, light-emitting displays, electrostatic paintable plastics, antistatic packaging, corrosion-resistant paints/coatings, and other more esoteric markets such as: rechargeable batteries, electrolytic capacitors, smart windows, electronic membranes, etc. Currently, most ICPs lack sufficient conductivity to be effective for EMI shielding.
In many of these applications, the ICPs are beginning to impact conductively filled traditional thermoplastics, while the market for EO polymers is still not expected to become significant until the end of the decade, at the earliest.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This report will cover both ICPs and conductively filled thermoplastics in terms of their competitive scenario as well as to assess ICP markets separate from the traditional resins.
The latter comprises: ESD, antistatic packaging, electrostatic spray painting, etc., while the former is made up of electronic applications such as batteries, transistors, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), capacitors, corrosion-resistant coating products, and in the longer term, batteries, transistors, membranes, etc.
Several procedures were used to gather information and included
- complete literature review on products, and technology;
- patent search; and
- contacts with key personnel from producers, suppliers and end-users.
Research analyst Mel Schlechter covers polymers and chemicals. He has over 30 years experience in the chemical industry, and specializes and has authored dozens of reports for BCC over a span exceeding 10 years. B.S., Chemistry; M.S., Organic Chemistry; M.B.A., Marketing.
ACRONYMS AND DEFINITIONS
APET amorphous PET
CRT cathode ray tube
EL Lamps electroluminescent lamps
EMI electromagnetic interference
EMR electromagnetic radiation
ESD electrostatic dissipation
ETFE ethylene tetrafluoroethylene
EVA ethylene vinyl acetate
HIPS high-impact polystyrene
ICPs inherently conductive polymers
IDPs inherently dissipative polymers
ITO indium tin oxide
LCPs liquid crystal polymers
LEDs light-emitting diodes
LEPs light-emitting polymers
NLO nonlinear optics
OLEDs organic light emitting devices
OEM original equipment manufacturer
OTFTs organic thin film transistors
PBT polybutylene terephthalate
PC/ABS polycarbonate/ABS alloys
PCBs printed circuit boards
PDAs personal digital assistants
PET polyethylene terephthalate
PETG glycol–modified PET
PLEDs polymer light-emitting diodes
Poly OLEDs polymeric OLEDs
p–OLEDs polymeric OLEDs
PR photoreactive polymers
PPS polyphenylene sulfide
PPV polyphenylene vinylene
PVC polyvinyl chloride
PVDF polyvinylidene fluoride
TPEs thermoplastic elastomers
TPUs thermoplastic urethanes
UHMWPE ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene
VOCs volatile organic compounds