Over the past 20 years the high performance polymer (HPP) industry has grown from $1 billion to over $7 billion. As overall global demand is increasing, the HPP space is filling out with new products and participants, leading to increasing competition. Shifting markets, new applications, globalization, changing alignment of key players in the space and new technologies all combine to make the HPP industry highly dynamic.
HPPs are a set of materials distinctly different from other engineered thermoplastics, metals and ceramics. These high value products typically outperform replaced materials with exceptional heat resistance, greater chemical and wear resistance, creep resistance, strength, stiffness and dimensional stability, among other critical properties. These high performance properties also help reduce total lifetime cost of fabricated parts, in automotive, aerospace and industrial applications.
Thousands of tailor-made HPPs are manufactured to stringent specifications. Whether a manufacturer of HPPs is focused on a single polymer or is a large diversified supplier, engineering support and applications development are key to creating end user value and new applications. To better understand the opportunities in this industry, Principia Partners is conducting a comprehensive multi-client study titled High Performance Polymers 2008.
While some HPPs are new and emerging, others may be approaching maturity. Participants are fighting this trend by developing new materials, grades and blends. Breakthroughs may involve new processing technologies and increasing partnerships between key participants. One such example is the blending of SABIC's Extem® and Victrex's PEEK polymers to launch the Victrex Max® line.