Automotive Industry’s Shift from Plastics to Thermoplastic Elastomers Keeps Demand Steady
Growing awareness about environmental issues has induced operational and strategic changes across a range of industries. A number of industries have been hard pressed to alter their traditional manufacturing processes to include more sustainable alternatives. Both government regulations and consumer perception have been the drivers of these changes.
In the recent years, the use of thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) has gained increasing momentum in multiple industries, especially in automotive sector. In the automotive sector, TPEs have emerged as a feasible raw material, in line with the broader industry-wide focus on meeting evolving regulations for fuel efficiency. The adoption of thermoplastic elastomers has also been complemented by rising growth of electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid electric vehicles (HVEs). Manufacturers, sensing the emerging opportunities, have focused on developing effective TPEs that are replacing thermoset rubbers in a wide range of automotive applications.
While soft-touch thermoplastic elastomers have gained applications in instrument panel skins, door trim, seat backs, arm rests, knobs, handles and others, copolyester thermoplastic elastomers (COPE) have found growing adoption in automobile airbags. Copolyester thermoplastic elastomers combine a hard and soft segment – polyether and polyester respectively – in the polymer chain. The resultant material is both soft and rugged, highly suitable for airbag covers. Further, COPE remains flexible even at very low temperature (-35 degree Celsius), therefore airbags made from this material do not splinter when deployed at low temperature.
Demand from Automotive Industry Remains a Key Driving Factor for Thermoplastic Elastomer Manufacturers
The key trends influencing the automotive sector include high demand for lighter parts and materials, elimination of halogens, and better recyclability. These trends are inducing a switch from conventional materials such as PVC and vulcanized rubber to thermoplastic elastomers. The key reasons for adoption of TPEs in automotive parts are their productivity, light weight, design freedom, safety, recyclability, flexibility, and cold resistance. Large scale production of automobiles in emerging economies is likely to fuel the development of thermoplastic copolyster elastomers market, which is expected to expand globally at the rate of around 6.3% in the next 10 years.
Market Players Focus on Launching Innovative Products to Meet Evolving Demand
Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation is one of the leading companies developing a variety of TPE products. TEFABLOC™ is one of the most versatile kinds of thermoplastic elastomers which can be customized to specified properties. It offers soft to semi rigid flexibility and excellent mechanical properties, making it suitable for use in automotive airbag covers, interior functioning components, automotive wiring, and glass encapsulation.
In 2018, Kraigburg TPE introduced its ‘Thermolast K VS/AD/HM series’ for automotive roller shutters which provide superior scratch resistance, optimal UV endurance, and chemical compatibility. According to the company, this line of TPE products has the potential to address customer challenges such as highly efficient injection molding properties.
Increasingly stringent standards and environmental and recycling regulations has put challenging demands on the automotive industry. DuPont’s MULTIFLEX™ Thermoplastic Elastomers are steadily replacing the conventional materials in automotive applications as they improve rubber’s benefits with the recyclability, design freedom, and streamlined processing. The product range has found promising applications in interior as well as exterior parts of automobiles. Further, the company has announced an investment of over $80 million to build new specialty materials manufacturing facility in East China which will support the growing demands for specialized materials. These strategies are in important as Asia Pacific is one of the most lucrative markets for thermoplastic copolyester elastomers, which is projected to expand at a CAGR of 9.7% through 2027.
Market values provided in this article are taken from a new report by FactMR on Thermoplastic Copolyester Elastomers Market. The report offers comprehensive market analysis over a period of 10 years, backed by unique segmentation, regional analysis, and competitive landscape.
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