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The global polymer foam market size was USD 114.88 billion in 2019 and it is projected to reach USD 157.63 billion by 2027, exhibiting a CAGR of 7.73% during the forecast period.
Polymer foams are normally lightweight, have excellent strength to weight ratio, good energy absorbance, and also provide comfort owing to their flexibility and softness. Due to these properties, the demand for these materials has been gaining impetus, especially for application in the manufacture of furniture items such as sofas, office chairs, and bean bags. On the other hand, they also show excellent acoustic and insulation capabilities, and decent fire resistance properties, which make them exceptional for application in manufacture of insulation panels and flooring products.
Plastic foam is manufactured by producing a matrix of air bubbles with the help of a blowing agent in a polymer base. These foams are produced using a number of techniques such as blow molding, injection molding, extrusion, and slab-stock by pouring. The foams manufactured are subject to fulfill the regulations passed by organizations such as American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission before their application. For example, ASTM D3574 is applicable for measuring and evaluating the properties of flexible foam such as density, indentation force deflection, compression, tear & tensile strength, air flow, and recovery test.
Contracting Activities in the Construction & Automotive Industries amid COVID-19 to Stall Market Growth
Covid-19 has not only affected the transportation of man and material alike, it has also affected the production and construction activities across the globe. With major economies such as China, India, U.S., Germany, and Brazil announcing lockdowns for several months, severe downturn in global economic activities has resulted in significant reduction in demand for these foams. The production of automobiles has been affected considerably, creating hurdles to the uptake of foams from the industry. According to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), the closure of production plants and reduced demand has led to reduction in 20% of the automotive market this year in the EU.
Similarly, reduction in consumer spending and restriction in transportation of materials has significantly affected the performance of the building & construction industry. The demand for these foams has also been affected due to this factor. However, plastic foam manufacturers have increased their efforts to develop foam for alternative, novel applications. The market has observed increased demand for these foams for packaging of medical and food products. Furthermore, their demand for polymer foams for the manufacture of sports shoes and other sporting goods has expanded, thus compensating for the reduced demand from other application areas.
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Utilization Polymer-based Memory Foams for Manufacture of Footwear Soles and Bedding Products to Boost the Market
Increased stress and fatigue in the lives of the working class and students has created a demand for products which can relieve their stress. Memory foam is a special type of polymer foam which retains its shape when stress is applied to it, uniformly distributing the stress, and helps the muscles to relax. This foam is largely utilized in the manufacture of soles of footwear. These foam-based soles not only help in reducing the pain of the customers, but also help in restoring normalcy to pronation.
On the other hand, increasing global geriatric population, especially in countries such as Japan and Germany, has generated a demand for memory foam-based bedding products such as mattresses and cushions. Mattresses made from these foams provide support to the entire body and help reduce pain. Furthermore, foam-based pillows have proved helpful in maintaining the sleep cycle of the consumer, helping in the reduction of stress, thus gaining huge impetus in the global market. This trend of increasing adoption of memory foam-based products is expected to provide a considerable boost to the market.
Growing Demand from Core Applications to Drive the Market
Polymer-based foams are extensively used in various applications including automotive, building & construction, and packaging for the production of a wide range of products such as car seats, pipe covers, facades, food packaging, and roll coverings. The increasing influence of sustainable building materials is fueling the demand for building materials that contribute to the energy efficiency of buildings.
The rapid growth of these foams is attributable to their demand from developing countries such as India and Brazil. Surge in demand from European countries such as the U.K., Germany, Poland, and Sweden for household applications such as furniture, bedding, freezer, insulation, refrigeration is further driving the market growth.
Increasing Concerns over the Sustainability of Polymer-based Products to Restrict Adoption
Polymer products are rather infamous for being non-biodegradable, especially when manufactured from resins such as polyurethane (PU), polyethylene (PE), and polystyrene (PS). According to Surfers Against Sewage Association, 320 million tons of plastic was produced in 2016, which is expected to double by 2034. Owing to these factors, they are subject to various laws and regulations, which restrict their adoption. Moreover, foam materials consist of a lower amount of resins per unit volume, which limits their usage in recycling plants and adversely affects their demand. With countries such as Brazil, U.S. and China putting restrictions on usage of polymer-based products, including foams, the demand for plastics-based foams is expected to be truncated during the forecast period.
Polyurethane Foam Segment to Generate the Highest Revenue D
Based on type, the market for polymer foam has been categorized into such as polyurethane (PU), polystyrene (PS), polyethylene (PE), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and others. Polyurethane foam accounted for the largest market share in 2019. Increasing demand for viscoelastic or memory foam for making mattresses and other bedding products is expected to boost the demand for polyurethane foam in the lower-middle income economies such as India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Vietnam. The demand for polyurethane foam is also rising in European countries such as Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia owing to a surge in the construction industry, where it is used for building roofs, flooring, and facade insulation. Moreover, the consumption of polyurethane foam is expected to increase due to its versatility and broad range of applications in major end-use industries.
Stringent environmental standards and increase in the demand for high quality insulation materials is fueling the demand for polystyrene foam. Moreover, this foam has heavy demand from the packaging industry owing to its properties such as thermal insulation, lightweight, low cost, and versatility.
The demand for PVC foam is expected to rise owing to the increasing demand from the fastest-growing panel products such as furniture manufacturing. PVC foam boards have major applications in the furniture end-use industry.
The PET foam segment holds lower share as compared to other types of foams present in the market. However, it is still witnessing demand from transportation, wind energy, and packaging industries. Other types of foams include urea formaldehyde and polyamide foam.
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Building & Construction Segment to Exhibit a Significant CAGR
Key application segments covered in the report include automotive, building & construction, packaging, furniture, appliances, and apparel. Polymer-based foams have high demand from the building & construction industry owing to their crucial properties such as lightweight nature, durability, and versatility. The building & construction segment held the highest polymer foam market share as these foams enhance the design and aesthetics of residential and commercial buildings. Sprayed polyurethane foams provide waterproofing sealants, fills gaps, and seams in household applications.
The demand for these foams in automotive applications is increasing owing to their properties such as water resistance, comfort, durability, lightweight, and energy conservation. They are used in seats, armrests, and headrests, providing cushioning effects to reduce stress and fatigue associated with driving. Thus, the aforementioned factors will attract large revenue in the forecast period.
In packaging applications, foams are usually used for packaging purposes such as food containers, disposal dishes, egg cartons, fast-food, and others. Increasing transportation activities, coupled with rising demand for packaged food, is expected to fuel the demand for these foams in packaging applications.
Rigid foams are widely used in the furniture industry in products such as sofa, cushions, upholstery and others.
Polymeric foams are used in refrigerators to maintain the temperature. They also provide flame-retardant safety for white goods as well as smaller appliances such as water heaters without compromising on the endurance and appearance.
In the apparel industry, they are used in the manufacture and packaging of clothing, footwear, and other accessories as they provide higher comfort and impact resistance than other materials. Other applications of these foams include toys, agriculture, military, and others.
Asia Pacific Polymer Foam Market Size, 2019 (USD Billion)
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Asia Pacific is anticipated to remain the largest region in the market during the forecast period owing to the rising demand from various applications including packaging and construction activities. The market in Asia Pacific is mainly driven by factors such as rising building & construction activities, which can be attributable to the increasing population and increase in the disposable income of people in this region. With China emerging as the largest producer and consumer of these foams, Asia Pacific will remain the dominant region in global polymer market share. The region is also expected to witness the highest growth in the market. China, Japan, and India are the key countries contributing to the market growth in the region owing to the rising population and construction activities in these countries.
Europe, on the other hand, is projected to witness significant growth in the market during the forecast period. The increasing demand for interiors in the automotive industry would contribute significantly to the growth of the regional market. Additionally, the use of foams for packaging and furniture applications are some of the other key factors driving the market growth in Europe.
Latin America and the Middle East & Africa are anticipated to showcase sluggish growth in this market as compared to the other regions. The production of foams in these regions is not sufficient to meet the local demand, owing to which they need to be imported from other regions.
Key Players to Strengthen Position by Offering Advanced Solutions
The global market for polymer foam is fragmented in nature with the presence of several local as well as global players, most of whom are located within Asia Pacific. Producers in North America and Europe are aiming to increase their presence in China and other countries in Asia Pacific in order to strengthen their position in the market and increase their market share. In order to achieve this, the key market players have developed strong regional presence, distribution channels, and broad product offerings.
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The polymer foam market report provides qualitative and quantitative insights on the market and a detailed analysis of the market size & growth rate for all possible segments that exist in the market.
Along with this, the report provides an elaborative industry analysis of the market dynamics and competitive landscape. Various key insights presented in the report are the price trend analysis, recent polymer foam industry developments in this market, the regulatory scenario in crucial countries, macro, and microeconomic factors, SWOT analysis, and key industry trends, competitive landscape and company profiles.
An Infographic Representation of Polymer Foam Market
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Value (USD Billion) Volume (Million ton)
Type; Application; and Geography
Fortune Business Insights says that the polymer foam market value stood at USD 114.88 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 157.63 billion by 2027.
The market will exhibit a steady CAGR of 7.73% in the forecast period (2020-2027).
Polyurethane segment is expected to be the leading type in the market during the forecast period.
Increasing demand for polymer-based foams in the building & construction industry is driving the market growth.
Asia Pacific is expected to hold the highest share in the market.
Building & construction applications will drive the adoption of such foams.
Utilization of polymer-based memory foams for manufacture of footwear soles and bedding products is the new market trend
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