Structural foams are defined as thermoplastic products, which have a foamed cellular core with a solid skin surrounding the core. It is generally developed through a form of injection molding, by using molten plastic/polymer mixed with a chemical blowing agent or inert gas. Other processes such as reaction injection molding (RIM), high pressure expansion, and co-injection are also used for manufacturing structural foam. Structural foam is used for various applications, as it possesses characteristics such as high mechanical strength, chemical resistance, thermal insulating property, and high strength-to-weight ratio. Moreover, structural foam molding has the advantage of low-cost tooling and also allows for molding of larger parts, which are not feasible in conventional injection molding.
North America is the global leader in the consumption of structural foam and its dominance is expected to continue till 2020. The U.S. is the key market in this region, and it has consumed more than half of the demand for structural foam, followed by Canada and Mexico, where consumption is growing steadily. Increase in the consumption of structural foam has been observed in the Asia-Pacific region, due to rapid industrialization and subsequent growth of the building and construction sector.
Polyethylene is the major thermoplastic material used for the production of structural foam. Polyethylene structural foam is the most preferred structural foam, due to its affordable price and other unique properties such as good chemical resistance, impact resistance, lightweight, easy to mold, and easy recyclability. It is also used in automotive industries, where high degree of rigidity and light weight is required. Another major application of structural foam using polyethylene resin is manufacturing of containers and pallets, used in material handling and internal panels in automobiles.
This study estimates the market value for structural foam and projects the same by 2020. As a part of quantitative analysis, the study segments the market by material, application, and geography, with the current market estimation and forecast till 2020. The segmentation by material includes polyethylene, polystyrene, polypropylene, and polyurethane among others. In terms of application, the structural foam market is segmented into building & construction, material handling, automotive, and electrical and electronics among others. Geographically, the report segments the market into North America, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and rest of the world (RoW). Further as a part of qualitative analysis, the research provides a comprehensive review of major market drivers, restraints, opportunities, burning issues, challenges, and key issues in the market. It also includes company profiling and competitive strategies adopted by different market players, including One Plastic Group (U.K.), Season Group (Hong Kong), SABIC (Saudi Arabia), Bayer Material Science (Germany), Armacell (Luxembourg), BASF SE (Germany), Changzhou Tiansheng New Materials Co., Ltd. (China), Evonik Industries (Germany), and GI Plastek (U.S.).