Published December 2015
This report focuses on high-performance thermoplastics (HPTPs), which are highly specialized polymers used in very demanding applications. They provide more thermal resistance (as well as other enhanced properties) than engineering thermoplastics (ETPs) such as nylons and polycarbonates, but with prices that are significantly higher.
Compared with other thermoplastics, even the larger-volume engineering polymers, HPTPs have superior short- and long-term thermal stability (higher melting point, glass transition temperature, heat deflection temperature, continuous-use temperature), chemical and radiation resistance, resistance to burning, and improved mechanical properties (stiffness, strength, toughness, creep, wear, fatigue).Many HPTPs can withstand long-term service temperatures of at least 150°C and short-term use temperatures of greater than 250°C.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of high-performance thermoplastics by type on a value basis:
The main markets for HPTPs are electrical/electronics, automotive, aircraft/aerospace, industrial, and medical.
Most major HPTP players are large multinational companies having extensive experience in polymer manufacturing and processing. However, smaller companies with relatively narrow product portfolios can also play a significant role in the industry. For example, Victrex plc, the leading producer of PEEK™, is a small, highly focused organization, which was spun off from ICI. In Japan, the roster of HPTP producers includes both small, domestically focused producers and large corporations with substantial international interests. China is becoming more of a factor in some HPTP markets, as it recently overtook Japan's third-place ranking among the largest HPTP consuming regions in the world. China relies heavily on imported material, and its capacity base for HPTPs is low with an even lower utilization rate.
The industry emphasis is shifting toward the modification of existing polymer types by compounding, blending, or alloying to improve processing characteristics and/or to achieve more favorable price/performance characteristics. In addition to improving physical properties, compounding provides a low-cost way to widen the price/performance characteristics of an HPTP resin, and enables suppliers to satisfy a wider array of customer needs.
Strong HPTP growth in the Asia Pacific region will continue because of the high concentration of electronic manufacturers in the region. Asian automotive manufacturers are starting to use more plastic in their construction materials to lower vehicle weights and systems costs.
World consumption of HPTPs is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 5.5–6.0% from 2015 through 2020.