US demand for independently compounded resins is forecast to grow 2.9% pa to 7.6 billion lbs in 2013 as per Reportlinker. Total value, including additives, fillers and other production costs, will reach US$14.6 bln. Further thermoplastic inroads at the expense of metal, wood and glass will necessitate higher performance characteristics and a more competitive cost structure. Value gains will be stimulated by a shift in the product mix toward higher performance specifications, yet restrained by moderating resin prices.
Independently compounded polyvinyl chloride (PVC), engineering thermoplastics, polypropylene and polyethylene will account for 78% of all independently compounded thermoplastics in 2013. Thermoplastic elastomers will exhibit the fastest gains, driven by the direct replacement of natural and synthetic rubber, plastics and metals in a variety of applications, as well as design trends featuring soft-touch surfaces. Slightly below average growth is expected for PVC in light of saturated applications, competition from other thermoplastics, and health and environmental concerns over PVC's use and disposal. Polypropylene opportunities will be attributable to a competitive pricing structure, diverse applications and manufacturing enhancements that will improve resin performance. Demand for independently compounded engineering thermoplastics will be stimulated by greater needs for custom tailored formulations with higher performance ranges. Good growth is expected for engineering resins such as polycarbonate, nylon and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene.
Construction will remain the leading compounding market, followed by motor vehicles and consumer/institutional uses. Construction industry advances will be fostered by rebounding building construction activity and needs for higher performance materials. Consumer and institutional growth areas include medical products, sporting goods, and lawn and garden products. Slower growth is anticipated for wire and cable, and electrical and electronic markets.
Thermoplastic compounders that are separate from, and legally unaffiliated with, a resin producer will account for less than ten percent of total thermoplastic demand in 2013. The independent thermoplastic compounding industry is fragmented due to low entry barriers, minimal patent or technical barriers, and the need for close customer liaison. Merger and acquisition activity will continue as a result of growing capital requirements, and needs to diversify product lines and broaden the customer base.