Published May 2013
Polyvinyl butyral (PVB) is a specialty resin used primarily as a raw material for laminated safety glass sheet. It is produced by a few companies that also usually produce PVB film and sheet. There is little available statistical information so most data are estimates made through industry contacts. In addition to the major use as a precursor for the production of PVB-based film and sheets, PVB resins are consumed in wood coatings, wash primers, structural adhesives, inks/dry toners and as a binder for ceramics and composite fibers. However, this report focuses on PVB resins used to produce PVB film and sheet.
PVB sheet has a number of properties, such as high tensile strength, impact resistance, transparency and elasticity, that make it particularly useful in the production of safety glass. Through its alcohol, ester and acetal linkages, PVB interlayers adhere tightly to glass so that even if the glass is broken, the glass adheres to the interlayer, preventing shattering.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of PVB:
Sales in the primary end markets for polyvinyl butyral depend on the performance of the general economy, especially for safety glass in the automotive and architectural markets. The polyvinyl butyral resin market is very concentrated and dominated by four companies—Eastman, Sekisui, DuPont and Kuraray. The polyvinyl butyral film and sheet industry will expand into countries with expanding automotive production. In the most developed countries like the United States, Western Europe and Japan, but also in the Middle East, growth in demand for PVB film has been driven primarily by architectural laminated safety glass; the automotive glass market is mature in these countries.
A developing market with huge potential is PVB film consumption as an encapsulant for photovoltaic solar cells. All four major film and sheet producers have developed film products for this application.