Polymers and Resins

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 namely addition polymers and condensation polymers. Resins are both synthetic and natural organic compounds, comprising mainly viscous and non-crystalline liquids.Synthetic resins are used as monomers to form a polymer. Synthetic resins are more uniform and stable as 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 aloeand find major application in medicines, incense, and perfumes.Over time though, natural resins have almost 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 various applications such as in 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 application uses includes 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 uses 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 often are used in applications to replace metals. These polymers & resins includes acetal, fluoropolymer, polycarbonate, polyphenylene sulfide, and other resins. The automotive, electrical/electronic, and consumer are key end-use industries which uses these polymers & resins in various applications includes 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 industry has witnessed remarkable growth, after replacing conventional materials such as metals, glass, and wood due to their lightweight,superior strength and design flexibility, along with low cost. This has led to their widespread use in packaging, automotive, building &construction, and electronics end-use industries.The global polymer industry is growing at a Y-o-Y growth rate of 4% approximately from 2013. The demand of polymers is primarily driven by automotive, packaging, building & construction, electronics, transport rails, and telecommunication, among others.

Commodity thermoplastics polymers far outpace other segments.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 application is the key growth driver of polymer & resins industry. Rising consumption of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and poly-vinyl chloride(PVC) in bottles & beverages industry; and broad use of polycarbonate, PVC, polyethylene, and polymethacrylate (PMMA) for greenhouse covering are the major drivers for the growth of thermoplastics in polymers & resins industry. The increasing growth of the automotive sector is further fueling adoption of elastomers in the tire industry. The extensively increasing R&D activities and rising technological advancements in the development of polymers to improve the properties, and processes at low prices for various applications is the key growing factor for this industry.

The plastics industry is the largest consumer of polymers and resins around the world and is a significant contributor towards global economic growth. The global polymer industry consumes raw materials worth over half trillion U.S. dollars per year and transforms them into plastics products valued at over US$1 trillion. Around 4% of the world’s petroleum is used to make plastic components. Plastics have found applications in many key end-use includes 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 average per capita consumption in Asia was 20 kg per person, though the market in the region is witnessing burgeoning growth.Players in the market are focusing on moving production facilities towards Asia, in order to capitalize upon economies of scale in the region. The region produced around half of global plastics in 2013, with China alone producing nearly a quarter of the world’s plastics. Packaging is the major end-use for plastic and are used mainly in consumer and household products such as appliances, toys, plastic cutlery, and furniture; in construction applications such as pipes, window and door frames, roofing, and siding; and in the food and beverage products such as plastic bottles, containers, and film.

There is a major demand for polymers and resins in various end-use industries and will be consumed at a good pace in the future.

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