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Published: October 2012
Among the high performance thermoplastics, which all share the common characteristic of high heat-distortion temperature, sulfone polymers stand out for their hydrolytic stability, highly desirable transparency and FDA approval for food contact, making them an ideal choice for medical and food applications where the products must withstand repeated steam sterilization. In addition, sulfone polymers exhibit excellent electrical properties, inherent flame retardancy and radiation resistance, making them well-suited for many electrical and electronic applications such as connectors, printed circuit boards, terminal blocks and aircraft radomes. Sulfone polymers are also known for their toughness, long-term creep resistance and low mold shrinkage, making them highly desirable for other industrial applications requiring close tolerances and good dimensional stability.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of sulfone polymers:
In 2012, the United States was the dominant producing country, with 72% of world capacity, followed by Western Europe at 21% and Japan at 5%.
World consumption follows a similar pattern, with the United States, Western Europe and Japan accounting for 63%, 15% and 7%, respectively. However, China and other regions increased their consumption market share during 2008–2011, while the United States and Western Europe lost some of that share. The United States and Germany were the net exporting nations, while all other regions were net importers.
Solvay in the United States is the world's dominant producer, followed by BASF in Western Europe and Sumitomo in Japan.
World consumption of sulfone polymers is forecast to increase at an average annual rate of 4.6% during 2012–2017. Rates will vary from 3.6% per year in Japan to 7.5% per year in China.