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Published: November 2012
Polyester film, as discussed in this report, refers to a high-performance biaxially oriented polyethylene terephthalate (BOPET) film made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resin.
BOPET demand contracted during the 2008–2009 economic crisis. Industrial and electrical applications were more strongly affected by the downturn than were packaging applications, which are related to the consumption of food products and are therefore less discretionary. The revival of demand growth began toward the second half of 2009 and lasted until about mid-2011. During 2010, the BOPET film industry witnessed a supply/demand imbalance caused by inadequate capacity additions, closure of old lines in previous years, and strong growth in demand in 2010, driven by the economic recovery and by emerging optical and photovoltaic applications.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of polyester film:
Packaging represents the largest end-use market for BOPET film (48%), followed by industrial (24%) and electrical/electronic (12%). These three end uses, accounting for over 80% of global consumption, are also the most promising.
In the packaging sector the increasing emphasis on longer shelf life, solid waste reduction and the consequent trend away from rigid packaging and toward flexible packaging has been an important driver of growth. Stand-up and retort pouches, peelable lids and metallized film used for snack food packaging are among the most successful applications in this area. Most of the packaging film consumed in Europe and the United States is imported from countries such as China, the Republic of Korea, India and the Middle East.
The industrial end-use market includes numerous and various applications such as reprographics, hot-stamping film, thermal transfer ribbons, security films, release films, adhesive tapes, and labels and decals. Among these applications, pressure-sensitive labels and thermal transfer ribbons have been one of the most successful, at least in the United States and in Western Europe.
The electrical/electronic end-use market includes traditional applications such as photoresists, motor and generator insulation, wire and cable wrap, membrane switches, capacitors, and flexible printed circuits, as well as relatively new applications such as flat panel displays and solar cells. In flat panel displays, polyester film can be used for parts or in production processes as a release and protection film. In solar cells, polyester film is used in the construction of back sheets.
Because of the global economic recession, PET film consumption for electrical/electronic uses, including flat panel display panels, fell rapidly at the end of 2008, and the decline continued in 2009. The market for flat panel displays started to recover in late 2009, with polyester film consumption also increasing. In 2012, Japan, Taiwan, the Republic of Korea and China together accounted for almost all of the consumption of BOPET for flat panel displays, since the world production of displays is concentrated in these countries.
The market for solar cells has been growing rapidly during the past few years in Europe. Future growth in this end use will depend on developments in the feed-in-tariff scenario in Western Europe and on the shifting of the photovoltaics market to Asia, particularly China. Consumption of BOPET film for solar cells in Asia has grown rapidly.