Ceresana Examines the World Market for Thermoplastic Elastomers

29 September 2020

Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) combine the advantages of rubber and plastic. They are elastic, pliable, and flexible like vulcanized elastomers at room temperature; however, when they are heated, they can be melted, shaped repeatedly, and recycled like conventional standard plastics. TPE can be easily colored and allow combinations of hard and soft components. Ceresana has now analyzed the global market for these innovative materials for the third time already: global revenues generated with thermoplastic elastomers are expected to increase to almost USD 21 billion by 2027.

TPE are used in many areas because they offer versatile properties and are easy to process. The most important application areas are transportation, the construction industry, other industrial products, shoes and sporting goods, as well as other consumer goods. Around 36% of all TPE products worldwide are processed in the automotive industry. Possible applications of TPE in this area range from fabric coatings, sealants and covers to inlay mats and bumpers. TPE is also in increasing demand in construction and other industries, such as in mechanical engineering, medical technology, and electrical engineering and electronics. TPE can now be found in numerous everyday products, for example in cable sheathings, roof membranes, soft-touch handles for tools or toothbrushes, as well as in many toys and household appliances.

The demand for TPE is strongly concentrated in the largest economic nations: processors in China, the USA, Japan, and Germany currently account for more than 60% of global consumption. The production of TPE is dominated by manufacturers in Asia, where more than 57% of the global production takes place. North America comes in second place, followed by Western Europe.

The market shares of the various types of TPE vary considerably in some cases, mainly due to the different sizes of the respective customer industries. By far the most commonly used class of TPE is the group of styrene block copolymers (SBC), which accounts for around 47% of global consumption. Their use ranges from admixtures in adhesives to asphalt modifications in road construction. Thermoplastic polyolefins (TPO) constitute the second largest TPE market. Their main area of application is the transportation industry. 

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