One of the most commonly used products, polymer foams are virtually everywhere. Various types of polymer foam have multitude of applications, making them a crucial component of the automotive, packaging and consumer goods industries. Polymer foam and its variants are widely used to create disposable packaging, insulation materials and cushioning of the furniture articles. The comfort, quality and durability that these products offer have increased their area of applications. Increasing demand and innovative additions in materials are driving the global polymer foam market.
Polymer foams are divided into two basic types, namely, thermosets and thermoplastics. Both these types are further divided into flexible and rigid foams. Thermosets are hard to recycle, while thermoplastics are easily recycled. Segmentation in the global market of polymer foam is based on the types of foam, their applications across different industrial verticals and demand pattern across different geographic regions. Major geographical regions studied in the market include Europe, Asia Pacific, North America and rest of the world. Asia Pacific is dominating the global industrial scenario.
Based on the types, polymer foam market is divided into polystyrene, polyurethane, polyvinyl chloride, phenolic, polyolefin, melamine and other products. Amongst these products, polyurethane is the largely used type, which has numerous industrial applications, thanks to its suitable characteristics. Divers range of utilities and increasing R&D efforts are driving the global investment ratio and demand in this industry. The most popular use of these materials is in automotive, plastic, furniture and bedding, building and construction, packaging, and such other businesses.
Applications and Future Prospects
Increasing environmental regulations are the greater hindrance for the polymer foam market, which is also serving as the driving force behind technological advancements. Innovations like flexible polyurethane foam have given this industry a versatile appeal. This material is highly popular across the applications like carpet cushions, bedding, and furniture, automotive and packaging. Based on the recent market research reports, developed markets will record the maximum demand for polymer foams. Researchers state that the market is expected to grow at a steady CAGR of 7.7%.
The reports also suggest that Asia Pacific region; especially countries like China, Japan and Korea are expected to dominate the global market. Apart from environmental concerns and strict regulations across various verticals, the market is also struggling through other significant challenges. Rising costs of raw materials, owing to the rising costs of aromatic petrochemicals is the biggest immediate challenge for the industry. Inability of controlling the rising prices at the manufacturers’ end is also another significant challenge. A threat like invention of other eco-friendly foams is also a long-term challenge.