Styrene-Acrylonitrile (SAN) Resins
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Published: June 2011
Styrene-acrylonitrile resins are optically clear resins used in a variety of applications for their improved rigidity, clarity (although various compounded grades are translucent/opaque), excellent gloss, heat resistance, good processability, load-bearing strength and resistance to chemicals. The main materials competing with SAN are acrylics, polystyrene, polycarbonate, polyvinyl chloride and clear ABS.
The major uses for SAN resins (outside of captive use for ABS manufacture) are in houseware items (e.g., dishwasher-safe mugs, dinnerware, bathroom fixtures, ice buckets, toothbrush handles, food containers and stationery supplies); packaging (e.g., cosmetics packaging, lipstick tubes, compact cases, bottle caps, nozzles); appliance parts, including electrical/electronics (e.g., inner shelf liners for refrigerators, washer/dryer instrument panels and clear fronts, blender and mixer components, food trays, fans for air conditioners, and electric fan blades); medical instruments and utensils; industrial battery cases; automotive applications such as instrument panel lenses or covers; ABS compounding; and other plastics compounding (e.g., polyvinyl chloride, styrene-butadiene, polyesters, methyl methacrylate polymers, and polycarbonate).
The following pie chart shows world consumption of SAN resins:
World consumption of SAN was set back by about three years as a result of the global economic recession. Much of the growth in consumption over the next few years will occur in China, Other Asia and the rest of the world (which is expected to increase at nearly 7% per year). World growth in SAN consumption will be driven by applications in housewares/consumer goods, appliances (electrical/electronics), compounding materials and medical uses.
During 2010–2015, SAN consumption is expected to grow slowly in the United States and to follow GDP in Western Europe, at 1% and 3% per year, respectively. Consumption in Japan is expected to decrease by 1% per year during this period because of inroads by competing materials and decreasing demand in the domestic electrical/electronic and housewares industries. SAN consumption in the rest of Asia (excluding Japan, the Republic of Korea and Taiwan) is expected to increase during the period, led by China at 4% per year.
The world's largest producers of SAN for the merchant market include Cheil Industries, INEOS, Chi Mei Corporation, LG Group, China National Petroleum and Styrolution.