High-Performance Films: The U.S. Market
The U.S. high-performance films market reached 1.5 billion pounds in 2013 and is expected to grow to 1.9 billion pounds in 2018, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.5%.
- An overview of the U.S. market for high-performance films.
- Analyses of global market trends with data from 2013 and projections of CAGRs through 2018.
- Identification of trends affecting high-performance polymer films and their major end-use application markets.
- A breakdown of end markets for high-performance films by material types, with sections devoted to each class of high-performance film.
- A look at how structural issues affect the high-performance plastic films industry, such as the roles of film fabricators, converters, and distributors.
- Comprehensive profiles of leading companies in the industry.
SCOPE AND FORMAT
High-performance films can be defined in any of several ways: by volume, price, performance, end-use markets, resin types, or a combination of two or more of these characteristics.
For this study, high-performance films are defined as thin-gauge, mostly extruded or solution-cast polymer sheets that generally meet at least one of the following criteria: pricing above commodity film levels, continuous-use temperature above commodity plastics, and end-uses requiring technical capability and thickness at or below 30 mils. These are films that are used primarily for their performance characteristics, not because of their price. Emphasis is on those markets and products where opportunities are the greatest.
Therefore, the distinguishing characteristics of high-performance films are as follows:
- Relatively expensive.
- Thin gauge (compared to sheet).
- Possess special performance characteristics.
- Significant applications other than in packaging.
High-performance films generally are fabricated (or converted) in relatively small volumes (at least compared to commodity films). Much of their value is created after the film is extruded.
The focal point is on high-performance resins and their chemistries, including the following:
- Polyesters, primarily PET. We use PET interchangeably with “polyester” throughout this report.
- Polyolefin-based specialty film resins.
- Nylons (more properly and chemically called polyamides).
- Polycarbonates (PCs).
- Bioplastics, a newer group of plastics.
- Acrylic films based on PMMA chemistry.
- Polyimides (PIs).
- Cyclic olefin copolymers (COCs).
- Polyethylene naphthalate (PEN).
- Liquid crystal polymers (LCPs).
We also introduce some newer film resins whose markets at present are too small to measure with any precision. These include polyketones, benzocyclobutenes and polyacetals.
Basic polyolefins, such as polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), are not included in our scope since they are true commodities used in commodity film applications like grocery and garbage bags. Also excluded are other commodity resins like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polystyrene. Specialty polyolefin-based films are included, primarily and particularly when multilayer construction is involved. These specialty films are ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH), ionomers, polyvinylidene chloride (PVdC), polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH) and polymethyl pentene (PMP).
- Fluoropolymer films are an important of this report. They include the following:
- Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE).
- Polyvinyl fluoride (PVF).
- Fluorinated ethylene-propylene (FEP).
- Polychlorotrifluoroethylene (PCTFE).
- Polyvinylidene fluoride (PVdF).
- Perfluoroalkoxy (PFA).
- Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE).
- Ethylene chlorotrifluoroethylene (ECTFE).
The geographic scope of this report is the U.S. market. We include some international discussion, for example of foreign-owned firms that are active in these markets.
Our market estimates are by resin volumes in millions of pounds and we round them to the nearest million pounds. We round to millions since with so many products and applications, many of which are similar and can overlap, market estimates are by nature just that, estimates and not precise beyond millions of pounds, if that. Many applications markets for particular films are small, less than a million pounds, but our precision here is not greater than for larger numbers, and we round up to 1 million those estimated volumes greater than a half-million. Also, compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) for table entries with small volumes may not agree exactly with the 2013 and 2018 volumes; this is again caused by rounding.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Dr. J. Charles Forman has been a research analyst for BCC Research covering polymers and chemicals for more than two decades. His work in the industry includes 21 years at Abbott Laboratories in R&D and manufacturing management. Dr. Forman has researched and written more than 70 multi-client market research reports on a variety of subjects, ranging from building construction materials and spectroscopy to several studies on plastic packaging. He holds a B.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and an M.S. and Ph.D. from Northwestern University, all in chemical engineering. He is also a licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.).
The U.S. market for high-performance films was valued at $12.4 billion in 2011, and is projected to reach $14.9 billion in 2017, a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.7% from 2012 to 2017.
- The total U.S. market for high-performance films was 11.3 billion in 2010. This market will increase at a 3.6% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to reach $13.5 billion in 2015.
- Sales of in the high-performance films sector, which includes polyester, specialty polyolefins, nylon, PC, fluoropolymers, PMMA, PI, COCs, PEN, LCP, PSU, PEI, polyketones, and others,will grow from 1.3 billion in 2010 to $1.7 billion in 2015, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.5%.
- The commodity films sector is worth $10 billion in 2010. This sector is expected to reach $11.8 billion in 2015, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.4%.
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.
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.