Europe’s thermoplastic profile extruders accounts for around 5% of total polymer demand in Europe involving nearly 900 companies as per a plastics industry consultants, Applied Market Information Ltd. The profile extrusion sector covered in AMI’s report primarily relates to the manufacture of rigid profiles for the production of window, door and conservatory frames. However, there are also a variety of other products that can be manufactured by this process including shutters, cladding, furniture and automotive components, ducting, curtain tracks and a variety of other miscellaneous consumer, industrial and building products. As such it is primarily a sub-market of the PVC industry and AMI estimates that over 90% of production is in PVC. The remainder of the market is mainly accounted for by polyethylene materials with some small volumes of polypropylene, polystyrene, TPEs and engineering plastics also used.
The report covers producers of both rigid and flexible profiles. Rigid profiles are mainly based on unplasticised PVC and are primarily used in building applications and include window frames, door frames, sills, barge boards, cladding, shutters and blinds, skirting boards and cable trays. Non-building applications are less significant but the market for furniture drawer frames is an important application which has been stimulated by the growth of mass-merchandised self-assembly furniture. Flexible profiles are mainly based on plasticised PVC, polyolefins or thermoplastic elastomers, and are offered for a wide range of small trim and sealing applications mostly to specifications determined by the end user in automotive, domestic appliance and other related end use markets.
The largest share of the market is accounted for by the manufacture of window and building profiles. Around 65% of production is for these types of products and the companies involved also tend to be the larger processors, in some cases using many thousands of tons of resin per year. The AMI database includes the details of the European production sites for the leading building profile producing groups such as Profine, Veka, Rehau, Alphacan, Deceuninck and the Tessenderlo Group.
Other processors covered by the report include manufacturers of rigid profiles for furniture products, curtain tracks, blinds and lighting, as well as flexible profile producers which mainly serve the automotive, domestic appliance and building markets. This segment of the market is more fragmented involving many smaller companies, often located in Italy. Germany is by far the most important market for the production of profiles. It accounts for nearly half of the market in polymer demand terms, although only 20% of producers in AMI’s database, illustrating the size and importance of German companies in this industry and the level of restructuring and reorganisation that has gone in recent years in response to the weak state of building activity and the recession. Italy has the next largest number of profile extruding companies, although the production of profiles in Italy is relatively unusual in that it is applications other than window frames which represent the largest share of polymer consumption, mainly in the form of profiles for blinds, doors and shutters. Up until the recession the fastest growth was in the markets of Central and Eastern Europe. A boom in demand for profiles in 2006 and 2007 led to a flurry of activity with many Western companies setting up production plants in the region. AMI’s database lists details for 157 operating sites in the newer EU states of which approximately 25% are owned by Western companies.