Suppliers of polypropylene resins and compounds continue to invest in compounding and processing improvements to boost the resin’s competitiveness with alternative materials such as steel and aluminum. The addition of reinforcement materials (e.g., glass and carbon fibers) increase the resin’s impact resistance and strength, while also offering the weight reduction and corrosion resistance advantages plastics have over metals. For instance, in March 2018, Saudi Basic Industries announced the results of a lifecycle assessment of passenger motor vehicle side doors using a hybrid material consisting of UDMAX composite tape and STAMAX glass reinforced polypropylene. The results of the assessment showed a significant weight savings compared to aluminum, magnesium, and steel, as well as outperforming metal vehicle doors in terms of cumulative energy demand and global warming potential.
Furthermore, in September 2018, Mitsui Chemicals announced the establishment of a new manufacturing facility for the production of long glass fiber reinforced polypropylene at the company’s Advanced Composites subsidiary in Ohio. Completion of the facility is expected in September 2019. The establishment of the facility is the result of rising demand for the material due to growing production of electric vehicles and the need to reduce motor vehicle weight to boost fuel efficiency. Long glass fiber reinforced polypropylene can offer a 30% reduction in weight compared to metal in applications such as the insides of rear automobile doors.
However, some materials such as carbon fiber composites are relatively expensive compared to steel. In order to economically develop new long carbon fiber reinforced polypropylene, in December 2017, researchers at the US Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory developed predictive engineering computer modeling tools for developing lightweight automotive composites. The computer modeling technologies enable producers to observe the structural characteristics of the composites before they are molded. Continued research activities and further investment in new production facilities will expand the capabilities and applications of polypropylene resin.
Want to Learn More?
For in-depth analysis of polypropylene resin trends, see Polypropylene: United States, a report published by the Freedonia Focus Reports division of The Freedonia Group. This report forecasts to 2022 US polypropylene resin demand and production in pounds. Total demand is also forecasted in nominal US dollars at the manufacturer level. Total demand by volume is segmented by market in terms of:
- consumer and institutional
- furniture and furnishings
- building and construction
- other markets such as electrical and electronic components, appliances, and machinery components
To illustrate historical trends, total demand, total production, total demand by value, the various segments, and trade are provided in annual series from 2007 to 2017.
Recycled polypropylene resin is excluded from the scope of this report. Re-exports of polypropylene resin are excluded from demand figures.
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About the Author
James Lacy is a Senior Analyst with Freedonia Focus Reports. His experience as an analyst covers multiple industries.