Published December 2015
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 2015, the United States was the dominant producing country, with 57% of the world capacity, followed by Europe at 23%, South Korea at 11%, and Japan at 6%.
World consumption follows a slightly different pattern, with the United States, Europe, China, and Japan accounting for 40%, 27%, 14%, and 9%, respectively. The United States and South Korea were the net exporting nations, while all other regions were primarily net importers.
Forces that will continue to drive sulfone polymer consumption include, but are not limited to:
- A continued increase in global automotive and commercial aircraft production
- Continued fuel efficiency and CO2 emission standards in Europe, as well as increasingly stringent CAFE standards in the United States, and other regulations in other countries
- More food and consumer items that require higher temperature limits
- Water treatment technology advances throughout the world
- The continued miniaturization in electronics, which calls for higher temperature requirements
- Aging human population, especially in developed countries, where the healthcare sector will increase at above-average growth rates
World consumption of sulfone polymers is forecast to increase at an average annual rate of 5% during 2015–20.