The global market for thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) is forecast to grow 3.0% annually through 2024 to 7.0 million metric tons as penetration continues to expand in both developing and developed parts of the world and new TPE grades and compounds that improve performance continue to be developed.
Though demand will dip in 2020 due to COVID-related slowdowns in construction and manufacturing, long-term growth will be supported by the ongoing shift in many industries to TPEs from thermoset rubber due to advantages including processability and tailorability. Additionally, rapid advances in the medical products market – one area where the pandemic’s effect is growth – will be driven in part by an ongoing shift away from PVC due to health concerns.
Best Opportunities Expected in Motor Vehicle Market
Despite steep near-term losses across the motor vehicle industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic, TPE suppliers targeting the Asia/Pacific region will benefit from emerging motor vehicle markets in such countries as China, India, and Thailand, where penetration rates for TPEs lag those of developed countries. Since penetration rates are low, opportunities are numerous, including for the replacement of EPDM rubber in such standard components as door and window seals.
In developed countries, TPEs are beginning to reach maturity in exterior and structural motor vehicle components. However, there is still room for growth, particularly in interior skins and components, where increasing demand for soft-touch feel will continue to drive up use of TPEs. Engine applications are another growth area, where ease of processing and increasing performance characteristics will lead TPEs to overtake rubber.
Styrenic Block Copolymers Will Remain By Far the Largest Product Category
Styrenic block copolymers (SBCs) are expected to remain the most used type of TPE globally through 2024, when they will account for 37% of demand. Demand for SBCs is concentrated in the Asia/Pacific region as:
- SBCs are widely used in footwear manufacturing, of which China is a global leader. However, footwear manufacturing will continue to shift to smaller markets in the region, including India, Indonesia, and Vietnam.
- Continuing uptake of SBCs in home appliances and other consumer products where soft-touch applications will also boost demand.
Looking for More?
Global Thermoplastic Elastomers, now available from The Freedonia Group, analyzes the global market for TPEs (defined as any thermoplastic material that exhibits elastomeric properties) by type and market. Historical data (2009, 2014, and 2019) and forecasts for 2024 are presented for global TPE demand in metric tons by product and market on a country-by-country and region-by-region basis.