Market for high-performance elastomers set to grow by 5.9% to 2020

The global elastomer market is estimated to have been just less than 30 million metric tonnes in 2014 according to a new report from Smithers Rapra.

The Future of High Performance Elastomers to 2020 shows that the high-perfo mance sector represents less than 4% of the total global elastomer market, yet continues to grow at a faster pace than that of the commodity elastomers. This is being driven by higher demands, especially higher heat and chemical resistance.

The report estimates the global market for high-performance elastomers to have been just over 960,100 tonnes in 2013. It is expected to be nearly 1.439 million tonnes in 2020, showing a compound average growth rate (CAGR) of 5.9% over this period.

The technological demands of high-performance elastomers limit the number of producers to those that are willing to devote relatively large sums of money to research and development. Production systems are complex and costly and their base raw materials are rarely commonly found. Nevertheless, there are producers willing to face these challenges, even with such very high entry barriers. Once inside, these barriers serve as a strong obstacle against competition. Furthermore, high-performance elastomers are a highly profitable market.

Silicone elastomers are the most important products in the high-performance elastomer sector, according to the report. In 2013 they represented 32.3% of the high-performance category with a global market consumption of 310,000 tonnes. Market share is expected to rise to 33.9% in 2020 with 488,100 tonnes and a CAGR of 6.7%. The market size can be explained by their excellent high heat and good weathering resistance.

High-performance thermoplastic elastomers are the second largest sector, with 25.5% market share expected from 2013 through to 2020. Their CAGR is likely to be about 5.9% for the 2013–20 period.

Fluoroelastomers are expected to see an increase in market share from 2.6% to 2.8% in 2020, with a CAGR of 6.7%. Despite their small size, they are considered to be strong market participants, realising above average prices and profitability. Acrylate elastomers are also growing successfully with a 2013 market share of 5.7%, rising to 5.9% in 2020, with a CAGR of 6.2%. These elastomers are growing more popular, due to their position between silicone elastomers and other high-heat elastomers.

The consumption of high-performance elastomers is dominated by transportation applications. This sector represented nearly 60% of the market share in 2013 and is predicted to remain about the same up to 2020. Automotive end-use applications are the driving force here, followed in smaller quantities for aerospace and rail transportation. Consumption in transportation applications in 2013 was estimated to have been 572,20 tonnes, and is expected to rise to nearly 865,000 tonnes in 2020, with a CAGR of 6.1%.

Electrical and electronic applications are the second most important and are believed to have represented 13.8% market share in 2013, being predicted to rise to 15.5% in 2020 with a consumption of 222,400 tonnes and a CAGR of 7.7%.

While medical, food and hygiene applications only represented 8.4% in 2013, with a consumption of 80,8000 tonnes, they will increase to 117,600 tonnes in 2020, with an estimated CAGR of 5.5%. Consumer, leisure, sports and other end-use applications together were 6.3% of the high-performance elastomer market in 2013, with a consumption of 60,300 tonnes, rising to 89,000 tonnes in 2020 and occupying 6.1% of the market.

The following figure shows the percentage breakdown of the various end-use applications in 2013.

Figure 1: Global market split of high performance elastomers by end-use applications, 2013 (‘000 tonnes)

Source: Smithers Rapra

This report also divides the global market for high-performance elastomers into world regions and principal countries. The largest region is, not surprisingly, Asia Pacific. This region occupied nearly 54% of high-performance elastomers consumption in 2013 and is estimated to reach just over 57% in 2020. This represents a growth in consumption from 514,500 tonnes in 2013 to 824,000 tonnes in 2020, with a CAGR of 7.8%, the highest of all the regions.

North America is the second largest region, occupying 23.5% in 2013, which will only slightly decrease to 22.6% in 2020. Tonnages consumed over the period 2013 to 2020 will rise from 225,500 tonnes to 325,700 tonnes. The US is the largest consumer in this region and was estimated to have had a global market share of 22.5% in 2013 and is likely to see this decrease to 21.7% in 2020. It will have consumed 216,100 tonnes in 2013 and this is likely to increase to 311,800 tonnes in 2020. The impact of the current and future shale gas exploitations is likely to have a knock-on effect on certain raw material prices, as well as the cost of energy. The dependency of high-performance elastomers on this phenomenon is however quite small, so if there is a decrease in the prices of the various high-performance elastomers, it is likely to be very minimal indeed.

The North American region is closely followed by Europe with a 2013 market share of 19.4%. This is scheduled to drop to 16.6% in 2020, the second largest region to show a net loss, even though consumption will rise from 186,400 tonnes in 2013 to 238,900 tonnes in 2020.

The South American share of the global market is already quite small and this is likely to shrink even further from 3.1% in 2013 to 2.6% in 2020. This is due to the rather weak South America economies, which are still showing high levels of inflation.

The Future of High Performance Elastomers to 2020 presents detailed market data from 2013 to 2020, broken down by elastomer, end-use application and geographic region. The report is available now for £4,200. For more information, please contact Bill Allen on +44 (0)1372 802086, or via e-mail at