Polymers are synthetic long-chain compounds that act as the basic building blocks of the chemical industry. These are mainly derived from one or more monomers such as styrene, vinyl chloride, propylene, and ethylene and are made up of repeating structural units of monomers, which are bonded to each other with covalent bonds to form a polymer. There are mainly two types of polymers; addition polymers and condensation polymers. Resins are both synthetic and natural organic compounds, comprising of mainly viscous and non-crystalline liquids. Synthetic resins are used as monomers to form a polymer. Synthetic resins are more uniform and stable compared to natural resins, and are mainly used to manufacture plastics, paints, and many other products. Natural resins are mainly derived from plant sources such as myrrhand aloe, and find major application in medicines, incense, and perfumes. Over time though, natural resins have almost been replaced by synthetic resins due to the superior chemical and physical properties of the former. Synthetic resins are widely used in production of epoxy, acetal, phenolic, acrylic, polyesters, amino, and others. These resins are also used in the manufacture of various end products such as paints, plastics, adhesives, coatings, composites, and inks.
Polymers are derived from one or more monomers or resins. These building block monomers or resins are majorly derived from crude oil or natural gas, and are now increasingly derived from bio-based sources. These resins offer excellent mechanical, molding, chemical, and other properties. On the basis of their various iterations, polymers and resins are broadly classified as thermosets, commodity thermoplastics, thermoplastic elastomers, and engineering resins.
Thermosets are those which act as a finished product and cannot be recycled by heat. These include epoxy, melamine, phenolic, polyurethane, and urea resins. These polymer resins are mainly used in building and construction furniture, appliance, transportation, adhesives, electrical/electronic, ink, and coatings end-use industries. The major applications include laminates, wiring devices, plywood and other structural panels, carpet, refrigerator insulation, buttons and knobs, flooring, panels, tanks, boat hulls, and shower-stalls.
Commodity thermoplastics are polymers that can be recycled by heat and can be hardened by cooling in their final state as a finished product. The most commonly used commodity thermoplastics are polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The building and construction, consumer/institutional, transportation, electrical/electronic, and furniture/furnishing are the key end-use industries which use polymer resins in various applications such as automotive trim and parts, appliance parts, electronic storage media, bags, wrap, bottles, drums and containers, toys, pipe, siding, fishing line, carpeting, wire and cable, medical disposables, egg cartons, insulation, and various other applications.
Engineering polymers & resins are a subset of thermoplastic polymers that have high-performance mechanical, thermal, electrical and chemical properties and are often used in applications to replace metals. These polymers & resins include acetal, fluoropolymer, polycarbonate, polyphenylene sulfide, and other resins. The automotive, electrical/electronic, and consumer industries which use these polymers & resins in various applications such as valves, faucets, zippers, wire and cable jacketing, non-stick coatings, microwave cookware, appliance and electronics housings, hair dryers, bearings, gears, and others.
In recent past, the polymers & resins are replacing conventional materials such as metals, glass, and wood due to their light weight, superior strength design flexibility, and lower cost. This has led to their widespread use in end use industries such as packaging, automotive, building & construction, and electronics. The global polymer industry is growing at a Y-o-Y rate of 4% from 2013. The demand for polymers is primarily driven by growth of the automotive, packaging, building & construction, electronics, transport rails, and telecommunication industries among others.
Increasing application of engineered polymers in various end-use industry such as construction, automotive, and industrial manufacturing equipment are driving growth of the global polymers & resins market. Rapid demand for polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene in packaging and automotive industries is a key factor driving the growth of the polymer & resins market. Rising consumption of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and poly-vinyl chloride (PVC) in the manufacture of bottles & beverages, as well as application of polycarbonate, PVC, polyethylene, and polymethacrylate (PMMA) in manufacturing greenhouse coverings are expected to drive demand for thermoplastics in the polymers & resins market.
The plastics industry is the largest consumer of polymers and resins across the globe. The global polymer industry consumes raw materials worth half trillion U.S. dollars per year and transforms them into plastics products valued over US$1 trillion. Around 4% of petroleum produced across the world is used to make plastic components. Plastics have found application in several end-use industries such as transportation, construction, health care, food products, telecommunications, and consumer goods. The per capita plastic consumption reached 100 kilograms in Western Europe and North America. While the average per capita consumption in Asia was 20 kg per person. Manufacturers are focusing on setting up production facilities in Asia to capitalize owing to higher growth opportunities in the region owing to presence of the rapidly expanding economies such as India and China. The region produced around half of the global plastics in 2013, with China alone producing nearly a quarter of the world’s plastic. Packaging is the major end-use application for plastic and is primarily used in consumer and household products such as appliances, toys, plastic cutlery, and furniture; for pipes, window and door frames, roofing, and siding in the construction sector; and in the food and beverage sector for plastic bottles, containers, and film among others.
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