Engineering Polymers: Look for These Developments in 2016 December 2015/January 2016
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Look for the following developments in the engineering-polymers industry in 2016:
- Sustainable raw materials. EP manufacturers will most likely begin to invest in research and process development to determine new sources of carbon for the production of EP resins to create a stable market that is not reliant on fluctuating oil prices—including cost-effective methods to derive carbon from carbon dioxide. In addition, demand for biobased EPs, particularly in North America and Europe, is likely to increase at faster pace in 2016, primarily owing to increased government support.
- Tightening supplies in the European market. Supplies of polyolefins (polypropylene and polyethylene) may reach a low in 2016, owing to the increased demand that suppliers faced in 2015 and companies' maintaining their capacity margins.
- Food-contact EPs. Some EP companies will likely expand their production portfolios to develop EPs that comply with EU regulatory guidelines and FDA standards. For example, in November 2015, BASF announced that it is expanding its food-contact EP product portfolio in 2016 to include new Elastollan Food Contact grades.
- Manufacturing processes. Industry 4.0 and supporting technologies—including 3D printing, automation, and the Internet of Things—could begin to influence the way OEMs make their material components.
- Industry growth. Stringent industry standards and increasing demand for high-performance products with improved features will be a primary contributor toward growth of the thermoplastics market in 2016.