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Specialty polymers are polymer additives, which are used to enhance the ideal physical properties of polymers and enhance their performance. These chemicals are usually manufactured in small quantities and premium priced in comparison to commodity chemicals. Specialty polymers are classified under the segment of specialty chemicals. These chemicals are preferred over conventional polymers, as they possess specialized properties such as enhanced endurance limit, electrical insulation, thermal stability, and high heat, corrosion, and flame resistance.  Thus resulting in their wide scale usage as insulating materials in various applications.

Specialty polymers are used in various end-use industries such as automotive, electronics, marine, cosmetics, medical, aerospace, agriculture, and construction. The different kinds of polymers include electroluminescent polymers, conducting polymers, biodegradable polymers, liquid crystal polymers, polymer composites, and thermoplastic polymers. Different specialty polymers demonstrate different properties, thus making each one suitable for a unique set of applications.

Specialty Polymers Market Taxonomy

On the basis of product type, the global specialty polymers market is segmented into:

  • Thermoplastic Polymers
  • Biodegradable Polymers
    • Polyhydroxybutarate (PHB)
    • Polyhydroxybutarate-hydroxyvalarate (PHBV)
    • Polyhydroxyvalarate (PHV)
  • Conducting Polymers
    • Intrinsically Conducting Polymers
    • Extrinsically Conducting Polymers
    • Doped Conducting Polymers
    • Coordination Conducting Polymers
  • Polymer Composites
    • Particle Reinforced Composites
    • Fiber Reinforced Composites
    • Structural Composites
  • Liquid Crystal Polymers
  • Electroluminescent Polymers

On the basis of end-use industry, the global specialty polymers market is segmented into:

  • Automotive & Transportation
  • Electrical & Electronics
  • Marine
  • Adhesives & Sealants
  • Coatings
  • Aerospace
  • Medical
  • Building & Construction
  • Oil & Gas
  • Others (Cosmetics, and Agriculture)

Despite the relatively high costs of specialty polymers, they are indispensable in a wide range of industries due to their unique properties. Thermoplastic polymers possess insulating properties such as high resistance to heat and flame, due to which it is the most used polymer, widely serving the electrical industry in the manufacturing of various parts such as sockets and switches. Thermoplastic polymers are used in the automotive industry for the production of bulletproof glass.  Biodegradable polymers find major application in medical end-use industry for controlling drug delivery, and for agricultural purposes as well. These polymers are also widely used in the manufacturing of films, molded bottles, and coated paper. Conducting polymers   have the ability to conduct heat more efficiently than other polymers, thus suitable for application requiring high heat conductivity. Electroluminescent polymers have the ability to emit light upon application of an electric field, thus being used in the manufacturing of LED screen display panels for televisions, mobiles, and PCs, among others. These are also used in ink jet printing for the production of color pixels. Liquid crystal polymers, also known as Kevlar, are widely used in manufacturing body armor and protective clothing.

Specialty Polymers Market Outlook – Asia-Pacific is the fastest-growing region in the specialty polymers market

Asia Pacific is projected to be the fastest-growing market for specialty polymers, over the forecast period, due to the growing such as India, China, Japan, and South Korea. The growing population in countries such as India, China, Japan and South Korea, has led to increasing urbanization, thus resulting in the rampant growth of automotive, construction, and electronic end-use industries in the region. Specialty polymers hold a significant position in these industries, thus the growth of these industries, leads to an increasing demand for specialty polymers, in turn fueling market growth in the region. Increasing disposable income among the populace and growing infrastructural development are major drivers escalating growth of the specialty polymers market in the region. Rampant economic growth experienced by countries in Asia Pacific, has compelled the manufacturing units of key players such as BASF and The Dow Chemical Company to expand to the region, in order to capitalize lucrative growth opportunities. Thus creating a highly conducive environment for growth of the specialty polymers market in the region. Fluctuating prices of crude oil, which is the basis feedstock for specialty polymers, poses as a restraining growth factor. Also, low focus of players on R&D activities, which subsequently results in limited technological advancements in manufacturing specialty polymers are other major restraints for market growth.  Some of the major companies operating in the global specialty polymers market are Croda International Plc, Evonik Industries, BASF, Solvay Group, Specialty Polymers Inc., PolyOne Corporation, AmeriLux International LLC, The Dow Chemical Company, Clariant, Arkema Group, 3M, A.Schulman, Inc., Ashland Inc., and Koninklijke DSM N.V.

Key Developments

  1. Major players in the market are involved in various business strategies such as partnership and agreement, in order to gain competitive edge in the market. For instance, in January 2017, Revopolymer PLC, a U.K.-based polymers provider, entered into exclusive supply and marketing agreement with specialty chemicals provider Croda International PLC. Under this agreement, both parties will work together to grow supply of ZINADOR, which is polymer-based odor removal additive, worldwide.   
  2. Key players in the market are focused on various business strategies such as business and capacity expansion, in order to expand its product portfolio. For instance, in April 2018, BASF SE, a global supplier of chemicals, started new production line for its high-temperature resistant thermoplastic Ultrason (polyarylsulfone) at its site in Yeosu, South Korea. This new production line will strengthen company’s specialty polymer business. .
  3. Major companies in the market are involved in various business strategies such as product launch, in order to expand their product portfolio. For instance, Solvay S.A., a chemicals manufacturer, launched a broad portfolio of medical-grade specialty polymers for single-use biopharmaceutical manufacturing applications.

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