The European polymer blends and alloys market will increase from €346 mln in 2009 to €453 mln in 2016, according to Frost & Sullivan’s report on European polymer blends and alloys markets. The upswing will be driven by high growth potential in eastern Europe, particularly for electronics applications. Electronic housing and computer-related applications will be the main development areas for polymer blends, especially PC blends, but bio-based polymer blends are just as promising, as environmental concerns escalate worldwide, the researcher said. Companies in the bio-based market are rapidly diversifying from bags and packaging-related applications to high performance applications, where they are used as a replacement for engineering and commodity plastics.
However, manufacturers must identify new application areas for polymer blends, which are more expensive than commodity polymers, due to higher processing costs, the analysis says. As companies tighten their budgets, they are opting to move towards modified commodity polymers like long glass fibre reinforced PP or ABS, especially in high-volume markets such as automotive. These polymers offer nearly the same performance as polymer blends. It is therefore necessary to identify niche applications where commodity polymers cannot replace polymer blends, according to Frost & Sullivan. Additionally, the growing presence of Asian polymer blend suppliers in eastern Europe is stepping-up competition, making it more challenging for European blend manufacturers to increase their market share.
“Although polymer blend manufacturers are unlikely to show growth in the current market scenario, demand should increase after 2012 once automotive and electronic manufacturers begin to free up their budgets compared to the 2008-2010 period. This will result in some manufacturers opting for polymer blends, which, though comparatively costlier, provide higher performance levels than commodity polymers,” said Frost & Sullivan research analyst Aniruddh Menon.