The US plastic resins and synthetic fibers manufacturing industry consists of about 700 companies with combined annual revenue of about US$90 bln, as per Research and Markets. Major companies include PolyOne, DuPont, Dow Chemical, Eastman Chemical, Solutia and the US operations of BASF. The industry is highly concentrated: the top 50 companies have more than 80% of the market. Demand depends on the level of manufacture of plastic products, which is closely linked to US industrial production. Because resin manufacture is a high-volume process, the profitability of individual companies depends on operating efficiencies. Large companies have significant economies of scale in production and in the purchase of raw materials. Smaller companies can compete effectively by producing specialty resins and fibers. Many smaller companies buy commodity resins from large producers and rework them into specialty compounds. The industry is capital-intensive: average annual revenue is about US$1,000,000 per worker.
The two basic types of plastic resins are thermosets, which harden permanently after they are cured by heat, and thermoplastics, which may be hard or soft after being cured, but can be remelted or dissolved in a solvent. Thermosets include acrylics, amino resins, epoxy, unsaturated polyesters, polyurethanes and vinyl esters. Polyethylene (PE); polypropylene (PP); polyvinyl chloride (PVC); and polystyrene (PS) are thermoplastics. A third type of resin- elastomers, are thermoplastics that remain elastic after being cured, such as polyurethane foam.