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This study examines the global market for silicones by product, market, function, and world region. Historical data for 2010, 2015, and 2020 and forecasts for 2025 and 2030 are provided for silicone demand in current dollars for each of the products, markets, and function. Volume data (in metric tons) are also provided for each country and region, as well as for each market and product at the global level.
In addition, the key strategic and competitive variables affecting the global silicone industry are discussed, the industry’s key players are identified, and global market share is evaluated. The entire study is framed within the silicone industry’s economic and market environments.
For the purposes of this study, silicones are defined as polymers of silicon and oxygen. To avoid double counting, silicone demand is determined at the producer level and includes only basic products such as elastomers, fluids, resins, and gels:
room temperature (RTV)
high temperature/high consistency (HTV or HCR)
liquid silicone rubber (LSR)
fluids (including both basic siloxane fluids and more specialized products such as emulsions, organically functionalized fluids, and fluorosilicone fluids)
Siloxanes used as silicone products themselves (as in personal care product formulations) are also included. Foam control agents used in foam insulation are included in the chemicals – rather than the construction – market.
downstream silicone products such as adhesives, sealants, lubricants, defoamers, and molded rubber goods
siloxanes used as raw materials for silicones, although siloxanes used as silicone products themselves (as in personal care product formulations) are included
silanes, including chlorosilane intermediates and silane coupling agents, which are not defined as silicone polymers
fluids used as intermediates in the production of other silicone product types, including gels, elastomers, and resins
Market segments include:
construction (residential buildings, commercial buildings, and nonbuilding construction)
transportation equipment (e.g., motor vehicles, aircraft and space vehicles, boats and ships, railroad equipment, snowmobiles, golf carts, military equipment)
electrical equipment (including solar panels cells, semiconductor components, electromechanical equipment, high-voltage insulators, transformers, and ceramic, porcelain, and glass insulators)
electronic products (e.g., computer equipment, instruments, electronic components, tablet computers and smartphones, wireless communications equipment, telephone apparatus, radio and television broadcasting equipment, LEDs)
personal care (e.g., antiperspirants, deodorants, cosmetics, hair care products, shaving products, shower and bath products, skin care products, sun care products)
chemical (including manufacture of polyurethane foam, slips agents, additives, foam control agents)
medical and healthcare
surgical appliances and suppliers (e.g., artificial joints and limbs, wound dressings, orthopedic braces and supports, implants
surgical and medical instruments (e.g., catheters)
dental supplies and equipment
industrial (e.g., machinery, textiles, paper)
consumer (vehicle and furniture polishes, toys, housewares, etc.)
Demand is also analyzed by function:
adhesives, sealants, and caulks
elastomeric components (e.g., gaskets and seals, hosing and tubing)
paints and coatings
lubricants and greases (e.g., heat transfer fluids, dielectric fluids, transmission/hydraulic fluids)
emollient and conditioning agents
defoamers (antifoaming agents and defoaming agents)
smaller volume function (e.g., silicone-based cleaners, mold release agents, tissue fillers, coupling agents)
Demand for silicones is impacted by a divers range of factors, including:
durable and nondurable goods output
levels of construction activity
product design trends
environmental concerns and sustainability initiatives
the overall strength of the US economy
The widespread use of silicones in numerous markets has historically shielded the industry from the cyclicality exhibited by the construction, motor vehicle, and electronics industries, since silicones are also utilized in less cyclical markets such as the medical and cosmetic and toiletry industries.
Silicones can be divided into four major product groups: elastomers, fluids, resins, and gels and other products – primarily foams and pastes. In volume terms, elastomers were the leading product in 2020, accounting for 47% of demand at 1.1 million metric tons.
Elastomers will remain the most used product, with demand supported by:
a strong rebound in the transportation market following losses experienced in motor vehicle production during the COVID-19 pandemic
global gains in construction activity
Recovery in motor vehicle production and a return to pre-pandemic levels of manufacturing will also boost demand for silicone fluids, which are used in vehicle polishes and industrial lubricants and fluids. However, consumer preferences for silicone-free shampoos, lotions, and other toiletries in many higher income countries will restrict opportunities in the personal care market. As a result, demand for silicone fluids is projected to grow at a slower pace than other silicone products through 2025.
While most of the major product types see at least some use in most major applications, individual markets consume certain material types more intensively than others do. For example:
Silicone fluids see relatively little use in construction, although the market consumes the largest share of demand for elastomers and resins.
Personal care products and chemical processing are the most common applications for fluids.
Global demand for silicones is forecast to rise 7.1% per year to $22.0 billion equivalent to 2.9 million metric tons in 2025. Increases will come off a depressed base in 2020, as the silicone industry was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Demand will be supported by accelerations in building construction activity and manufacturing output – where silicones are used in a variety of applications – and increasing personal incomes, which will boost demand for products that incorporate silicones. In addition, greater uptake of silicones in the transportation, electronic products, and healthcare markets will support gains.
Transportation, Electronic Products, & Healthcare to Provide Growth Opportunities
While every major market for silicones is expected to grow in both value and volume terms, some markets are projected to experience above average growth:
A strong rebound in motor vehicle and other transportation equipment production, and the use of more advanced and technologically sophisticated components, will promote the use of silicones in instrument panels and other sensors in both developed and developing countries.
Increasing tablets and smartphone production, in particular in the Asia/Pacific region, will support silicone demand in the electronic products market.
Aging populations will support increased sales of medical devices, prosthetics, and medical adhesives that utilize silicones.
Higher Value Elastomers, Resins, & Gels to See Increasing Use
The expanding use of higher value elastomers – in particular liquid silicone rubber (LSR) – and resins and gels will boost the global silicone market in value terms. These products are favored over competitive products such as thermoplastic elastomers and plastics in many advanced applications – including solar panels, medical devices, and motor vehicle components – due to their performance advantages, including resistance to high temperatures and flexibility.
Pricing Expected to Be Less Volatile Through 2025
The global silicone industry experienced significant price volatility from 2017 to 2020:
Prices rose sharply in 2017 and 2018 due to temporary reductions in production capacity and fluctuations in raw material prices.
Prices declined sharply in 2019 as more capacity came online, and fell further as silicone demand plummeted in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Going forward, silicone prices are expected to grow more steadily as raw material prices become more stable and silicone demand continues to rise, even as production capacity expands globally. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has created supply chain issues that may cause suppliers to have trouble meeting the surge in demand for silicone, potentially causing prices to grow more quickly in the near term.