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Published: December 2010
Amino resins are thermosetting polymers, with the most important amino compounds being urea and melamine. This report focuses on urea-formaldehyde (UF) resins and melamine-formaldehyde (MF) resins. The two types of resins are discussed separately, but overall demand for amino resins, particularly for use as adhesives in wood products, is dependent on the level of construction activity and on the overall health of regional economies.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of UF resins:
Key findings in the overall UF resins market include the following. A dramatic decrease in construction activity, a global weak economy and the decreased production of particleboard and MDF contributed to a significant decline in UF resin consumption during 2007–2009, most notably in the developed regions. Asia has become a much larger player in the UF resins market as more particleboard and MDF is being produced in the region. In Japan demand for urea resins in the wood industry has declined, mostly because of increased imports of cheaper finished wood products.
Implementation of stricter limits on formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) will affect UF resin consumption. Because of their relatively low cost, urea resins will remain the dominant resins for particleboard and MDF production. However, melamine-modified wood adhesives, such as melamine-urea-formaldehyde (MUF) resins, have grown and will likely continue to grow at the expense of UF resins in the fibrous and granulated wood market.
The developing regions (Central and South America, Central and Eastern Europe, and the Middle East) will experience the highest growth in the consumption of UF resins as construction activity continues to grow at a stronger pace in these regions.
Key findings in the overall MF resins market include the following. North American demand for MF resins, driven by laminates, surface coatings and wood adhesives, was negatively impacted by the weak economy, decreased construction and remodeling activity, and declining automobile production during 2007–2009. Consumption of MF resins, driven by government regulations on wood adhesives for composite wood products in the United States, experienced an impressive resurgence during the latter part of 2009 and in 2010.
Consumption of MF resins in Western Europe is estimated to rebound to an average annual growth rate of 3.5% during 2009–2015, driven by laminate and adhesive applications, which in turn will be fueled by improving construction and remodeling activity, increased production of furniture and laminates, and environmental regulations limiting formaldehyde emissions and exposure. Negative growth is projected for the melamine resin market in Japan, primarily because of a decline in the use of wood adhesives and surface coatings.
Formaldehyde emissions from formaldehyde-based resins have been a public concern since the 1980s. These concerns have focused on problems related to the potential release of formaldehyde fumes from particleboard and other UF resin–treated wood products. Formaldehyde is a chemical irritant and will irritate eyes, skin, nose, throat and lungs at concentrations above one ppm (part per million).
It appears unlikely that suitable low-cost alternative binders will replace urea resins to any large extent in woodboard applications. However, there is still considerable concern over formaldehyde off-gassing in certain applications such as textiles and paper treating, where urea resins are being replaced with other binders.
Overall, the world outlook for amino resins is for healthy growth of approximately 3.0% per year during 2009–2015. Production will closely track consumption, since trade will remain negligible because of the high costs of transporting a product with high water content.