Plastics in Electronic Enclosures: Global Markets

Published - Jan 2012| Analyst - Melvin Schlechter| Code - PLS048A
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Report Highlights

The global market for plastics used in electronic enclosures was 6.9 billion pounds in 2011. BCC expects this market to reach 7.4 billion pounds by 2012 and to reach 9.9 billion pounds by 2017, increasing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.1%.


Use of electronic enclosures, often called “housings”, is often classified as stationary or mobile. and often compete with each other.  Many mobile electronic devices have become multifunctional.  This study covers both stationary and mobile electronic devices; some of the latter are also known as handheld devices.

Some of the significant changes within the industry include the shift of desktop computers to notebooks, with the shift to smaller versions called “netbooks”, and the explosion of the cell phone market, which includes upgrades such as iPhones, smart phones, and the popular BlackBerry.  MP3 players, such as i-pods, bring music to the world.  Tablets such as the popular i-Pad, along with electronic books, or “e-books”, have been the most recently introduced products in this industry.

Another critical factor in this market is the almost complete shift in North America, Japan, and Western Europe from cathode-ray-tube (CRT) monitors to flat-panel monitors for computers and TVs.  In both cases, bulky monitors have been replaced, resulting in less volume for enclosures and shifts away from polystyrene (PS) to mostly polycarbonate/acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (PC/ABS) resins.

This report deals with electronic enclosures and excludes enclosures used for servers, which utilize modular enclosures.  Servers are a nondescript group of enclosures, mostly made from metals, especially sheet-metal materials, along with some reinforced plastics, many of which are thermosets.  Many of these enclosures are termed “cabinets” and are made by simply joining smaller units together.

Another factor impacting this market, and covered in detail in this report, relates to the use of flame retardants for resins used in electronic enclosures to conform to new environmental restrictions related to bromine-based variants.  In some instances, choices of enclosure resins have changed in order to meet these new standards.

Use of metals in stationary and mobile electronic devices has been considered in this report.  However, the use of metals is still very small and difficult to quantify; as such, it was not included in the basic calculations to determine enclosure weights.

The market information contained in this report is considered global.  However, a quantitative breakdown of the data by geographic region was not deemed feasible.  We have included the most recent global analysis of electronic device sales by major geographic region; this could prove to be a viable attempt to segment this market by major areas.


Research analyst Mel Schlechter has more than 40 years in the chemical industry, and specializes in plastics market research.  He has been with BCC Research for more than 10 years and holds a B.S. in chemistry, an M.S. in organic chemistry, and an M.B.A. in marketing.

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