Preparing plastic formulations by blending or mixing polymers and additives in a molten state to get the desired characteristics is known as compounding. These blends are automatically dosed with fixed setpoints, usually through feeders/hoppers. It is primarily a blend of copolymers with certain additives such as anti-oxidants, UV-stabilizers, and agents and strengthening components like glass fiber. Various critical criteria exist to achieve a homogeneous blend of the different raw materials. Distributive, as well as dispersive mixing and heat, are essential factors.
Companies in the plastic compounding industry are putting efforts into meeting the demand for high-quality polymers and compounds. These have been used in many critical devices during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Global manufacturer of custom medical polymer compounds and color concentrates like Compounding Solutions is working hard to increase the availability of Thermoplastic Polyurethanes (TPUs) and Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPEs).
Manufacturers in the plastic compounding industry actively communicate with customers and suppliers to understand demand and supply chain dangers. They were looking for additional safety measures during manufacturing processes. This was done to prevent transmission of the COVID-19 infection through plastic compounds that are being used in critical medical devices such as ventilator components, personal protective equipment (PPE), and other consumables. Thus, the stakeholders needed to tide over complications like shipping and cancellation of orders. Virtual meetings and events were the trends, given the corporate travel bans and social-distancing requirements.
The plastics demand in the construction, automotive, and electrical & electronics sectors is increasing and is expected to be a major factor driving the global plastic compounding industry growth. Traditionally, synthetic polymers such as PVC, PE, PC, PP, and PU have been used in various applications such as packaging, toys, furniture, electronic components, automotive components, and construction materials.
Regulatory intervention is necessary to reduce the vehicle weight to improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. This is so that the driven automotive OEMs adopt plastics as the alternative for metals such as aluminum and steel for fabricating automotive components. Plastic compounding is expected to gain prominence because of increasing quality and material specification requirements from automotive OEMs with growing thermoplastic, and thermosets demand in automotive component fabrication.
Plastic demand is increasing in the construction sector in floorings, performance safety windows, doors, pipes, insulation materials, storage tanks, and cables. The growing residential and commercial projects in developing countries are boosting infrastructural development. Additionally, consumer awareness for attractive interiors is increasing demand for these materials in interior design. A booming construction industry is anticipated to complement the plastic compounding industry in the upcoming years. This industry is forecasted to register meaningful growth in the end-user segment of the market.
Huge investments in sectors such as irrigation, water and sanitation management, building & construction, power, transport, retail, etc., are continuously made. Investment in plastics compounds R&D is required to sustainably manage this sector because of its use in various products like pipes, wires & cables, waterproofing membranes, wood PVC composites, and food & medicinal packaging.
Plastic compound prices are rising primarily due to fluctuating petrochemical prices and high substitution potential from its bio-based counterparts. To and fro, petrochemical prices might hamper the growth of the plastic compounding industry during the forecast period. The dynamic prices of crude oil also impact the cost of plastic compounds and hence affect their usage.
In regional terms, Asia-Pacific growth will continue to be driven the most. Plastic compounding demand will see a large and steep price rise. China will contribute to this increase significantly. India and Vietnam will also boost demand. Nonetheless, this region's growth momentum has lost demand from before. However, the manufacturers of plastic compounding will get a decent market share in this region of the other contributing factors.