Germany: Market Study TPE Production Dominated by Asian Manufacturers

Editor: Alexander Stark

Demand for TPE is strongly focused on the largest economic powers: Currently, processors in China, the USA, Japan, and Germany combined account for about two thirds of global demand, Ceresana says in a study.

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In this study Ceresana analyzes the global market for thermoplastic elastomers.
In this study Ceresana analyzes the global market for thermoplastic elastomers.
(Source: Ceresana)

Konstanz/Germany — Melting, repeatedly deforming, and recycling: Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) can be processed just like conventional standard plastics when reheated. At room temperature however, TPE plastics have the same mechanical properties as vulcanized elastomers: They are elastic, pliable, and flexible like rubber. In its current study, Ceresana analyzes the market for these innovative materials already for the second time: In 2017, about 4.7 million tonnes of thermoplastic elastomers were used worldwide.

Production of TPE is dominated by manufacturers in Asia: More than 56 % of global production takes place in this region. Second largest producer is North America, followed by Western Europe.

TPE Applications

Given their versatility and easy processing, TPE are predominantly used in the automotive industry: About 36% of all TPE products are used in the manufacturing of vehicles. The applications cover segments such as fabric coating, sealing components, and bumpers. Therefore, the development of the automotive and transport industries as well as their suppliers are an important indicator for forecasts of future TPE demand. TPE are also increasingly utilized in the construction and other industries, e.g. mechanical engineering, medical engineering, electric engineering, and electronic engineering. By now, TPE can be found in numerous everyday products such as cables, shoes, sports goods, toys, and household appliances.

Distinct Types of TPE

The market shares of individual types of TPE in part vary widely among individual countries, which is mainly due to the different sizes of respective application areas. The by far most commonly used type of TPE on the global market is the group of styrene block copolymers (SBC). Their applications reach from admixtures in adhesives to asphalt modification in road construction. The second largest TPE market is comprised by thermoplastic polyolefins (TPO), which are mainly used in the automotive industry. Another important type of TPE are thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU) that can, for example, be used for dashboards and housing shells.