Polymer filler market size is forecast to reach $60 billion by 2025, after growing at a CAGR of 3.4% during 2020-2025, owing to the rising usage of polymer fillers in various end-use industries due to its extensive set of characteristics such as low cost, greater electric resistivity, lower flammability, fracture toughness, enhanced stiffness, and improved UV resistance. The increasing demand for organic fillers such as natural fibers, wood flour, and hemp has forced various countries’ automotive, construction, and packaging industries to initiate the use of polymer fillers. High-quality optical properties, enhanced impact resistance, and the ability to replace expensive plastic resins make it the preferred material for different applications. Thus, the increasing demand for polymer filler from various end-use industries is anticipated to drive the polymer filler market substantially during the forecast period.
Asia-Pacific dominates the polymer filler market, owing to the increasing demand for polymer fillers from the automotive sectors in the region. According to OICA, the production of light commercial vehicles has increased by 10.2 % in 2018 in the APAC region. Therefore the increasing automotive production in the region is anticipated to drive the polymer filler market in the region.
With the growing demand for high strength and low weight materials from the automotive industries to meet the strict vehicular emissions regulations, the demand for the polymer filler is increasing, which will boost the polymer filler market during the forecast period.
Calcium carbonate as filler is more economical than polymer filler masterbatch due to their lower raw material cost. Often polypropylene (PP) compounds are filled with calcium carbonate as they help in increasing rigidity, which may restrain the polymer filler market growth during the forecast period.
Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, most of the countries have gone under lockdown, due to which operations of various industries such as automotive, and aerospace has been negatively affected, which is hampering the polymer filler market growth.
By Type – Segment Analysis
The inorganic polymer filler segment held the largest share in the polymer filler market in 2019, owing to its superior characteristics such as enhanced modulus, strength, hardness, thermal stability, low thermal expansion, and more. The inorganic fillers are often incorporated into the polymeric matrix to decrease the polymerization shrinkage by reducing the content of methyl methacrylate polymers. Inorganic fillers such as salts, silicates, oxides, hydroxides, and more are extensively used as the cost of these fillers is usually very low. The salt fillers have wide applications in the building & construction industry, on account of their lower cost and sufficient strength. The low cost and superior characteristics of inorganic fillers are anticipated to boost the demand for inorganic fillers from the polymer fillers market during the forecast period.
By End-Use Industry – Segment Analysis
The building and construction application held the largest share in the polymer filler market in 2019 and is growing at a CAGR of 4.2%, owing to the increasing usage of polymer fillers in the building and construction activities. There is an increasing demand for polymer fillers from the building and construction industries to construct flooring, windows, pipes, seals, glazing, signage, cladding, and more. Polymer fillers are being extensively used in the building and construction activities due to its excellent properties such as low weight, superior strength, extremely durable, cost-effective, and low thermal conductivity. According to the US Census Bureau, in February 2020 total construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,366,697 which is 6.0 percent above the February 2019 rate of 1,288,951. Thus, the increasing demand for polymer fillers from the flourishing building and construction industries due to its extensive properties is anticipated to propel the polymer filler market growth in the building and construction industries during the forecast period.
By Geography – Segment Analysis
Asia Pacific region held the largest share in the polymer filler market in 2019 up to 40%, owing to the increasing demand for high strength and lightweight materials such as filled polymer for automotive applications in the region. In 2018, according to OICA, the automotive production in India, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia has increased up to 5174645, 2167694, 1343714 and 564800, i.e., 8.0%, 9.0%, 10.3%, and 12.2% higher than the previous year due to rising per capita income of the individuals. According to the International Trade Administration (ITA), China is the world’s largest vehicle market and the Chinese government is expecting that automobile production will reach 35 million by 2025. In 2018, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, over 27 million vehicles were sold in the country. And polymer fillers such as polyamide, polyvinyl are often used to manufacture car components such as pipes, doors, bearings, gears, and more. Thus, with the increasing automation production, the demand for polymer fillers will also increase, which is anticipated to propel the polymer filler market in the APAC region during the forecast period.
Drivers – Polymer Filler Market
Increasing Aerospace Industry
There is an increasing demand for polymer fillers such as carbon nanotubes, graphite, graphene oxide, and nanoclay from the aerospace sector as polymer fillers are preferred structural constituents for aircraft due to their lightweight and comparable mechanical properties. According to the International Trade Administration (ITA), in 2019 China was the world’s second-largest civil aerospace and aviation services markets and one of the fastest-growing markets. In 2016, according to Boeing, China is estimated to require around 6,810 new commercial aircraft, valued at USD 1 trillion, over the next two decades. By the end of 2018, China had more than 59 airlines and 3,615 civil aircraft, an increase of 10% over 2017. According to the International Trade Administration (ITA), in 2018 the Indian government spent a total of $645 in the civil aviation sector. Also, according to Boeing India is expected to drive the demand for 2,300 aircrafts worth US$320 billion over the next 20 years. With the increasing aviation industry, the demand for polymer fillers will also subsequently increase, which acts as a driver for the polymer filler market.
Increasing Building and Construction Industries In Various Regions
There is an increasing demand for polymer fillers from the building and construction activities to reduce the usage of expensive binder materials and adhesives by using polymer filler as a binder material for the concrete. Also, the polymer filler structure offers advantages such as enhanced mechanical properties, compressive strength, and flexural strength. According to the US Census Bureau, in February 2020 total construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,366,697 which is 6.0 percent above the February 2019 rate of 1,288,951. According to the European Commission, the total construction investment in Germany increased by 9.5% over 2008-2015. The Indian government has initiated projects, such as ‘100 smart cities’ and ‘Housing for All by 2022,’ which are expected to drive the Indian residential construction market over the forecast period. The building and construction activities are also increasing owing to the various government initiatives such as Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). With the increasing building and construction activities, the demand for the polymer fillers will also increase, which acts as a driver for the polymer fillers market during the forecast period.
Challenges – Polymer Filler Market
High Cost of Fillers and Processing
Initially, traditional fillers were used to reduce the cost and enhance the composite products. However, with time, traditional fillers such as carbonate, glass fibers, carbon black, and calcium talc became an integral part of many applications, particularly for reinforcing the mechanical properties of the polymers because of which there has been a surge in the price of carbon fillers. Also, the processing techniques used to manufacture these polymer fillers are not economically viable such as solvent processing, LBL assembly, and electrospinning. Melt processing is the only economically viable processing technique, which generally leads to poor dispersion and less than optimal properties. Furthermore, the processing cost rate of polymer fillers is high, as the processing involves high loading of fillers for property enhancement, which causes problems in melt movement and processing due to the high viscosity of the filled materials. Thus the high cost of fillers such as carbon and high processing cost of fillers hinder the polymer filler market growth during the forecast period.
Covid-19 Impact on The Polymer Filler Market
Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the automotive industry has been hit by a triple whammy: factory closures, supply chain disruption, and a collapse in demand. The automotive industries are facing issues such as delays in receiving polymer fillers from the manufacturers due to the restriction on import and export of commodities. The pandemic is having a huge impact on the automotive industry as the production of automobiles has been disruptively stopped, contributing to a major loss in the total automotive sectors. With the decrease in automotive production, the demand for polymer filler has significantly fallen. Also, since all the building and construction activities are stopped until the pandemic, no new orders can be taken over neither the existing order production could be completed, which is affecting the polymer filler market negatively.
Technology launches, acquisitions, and R&D activities are key strategies adopted by players in the polymer filler market. Major players in the polymer filler market are Imerys S.A., Lkab Group, Minerals Technologies Inc., Omya AG, 20micron Ltd., Hoffmann Mineral GmbH, GCR Group, Unimin Corporation, Quarzwerke Group, and Karntner Montanindustrie Gesellschaft M.B.H.