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Rigid Transparent Plastics

  • May 2017
  • 175 pages
  • BCC Research
Report ID: 2720124


Table of Contents

• The North American transparent plastics market should reach 5.6 billion pounds by 2022 from 4.5 billion pounds in 2017 increasing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.6%, from 2017 to 2022.
• The polycarbonates segment of the North American transparent plastics market is the largest market. The market is expected to grow from 1.3 billion pounds in 2017 to 1.7 billion pounds in 2022 at a CAGR of 5.6% for the period 2017-2022.
• The polystyrenes segment of the North American transparent plastics market is expected to grow from 1.1 billion pounds in 2017 to 1.4 billion pounds in 2022 at a CAGR of 5.0% for the period 2017-2022.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Study Goals and Objectives
This report is an update of an earlier BCC Research report published in 2015. The objective of this study is to provide an analysis of rigid transparent plastics in terms of current and forecast usage, with an emphasis on deferments since 2015. New developments in rigid clear plastics that have resulted in expanded usage in existing and new applications as well as competition between polymers exhibiting optical clarity are discussed. The competitive scenario between glass and clear plastics is described, and a detailed discussion of the competition among individual rigid transparent plastics is provided. Additionally, important suppliers of clear plastics, their product lines and other important factors that have an impact on the market are discussed.

Reasons for Doing This Study
Most plastics suppliers are in continual search for special markets, often irrespective of potential volume. Selection criteria are focused on growing specialty markets with opportunities for respectable profits although sales volumes may not be large by commodity resin standards. Rigid transparent plastics have become a significant market and include many types of polymers. In addition to acrylics and polycarbonates, many styrene-based materials and commodity and specialty polymers are available in clear grades. Opportunities in several application areas need to be reappraised in regard to the use of transparent or clear plastics, especially in the electronics, medical and automotive sectors. Of special interest within the electronics sector is the apparent decrease of transparent plastics as substrates for CDs, DVDs and more recent variants, especially those with polycarbonate. For example, online downloads and other technologies have slowed demand for polycarbonate-based CDs and DVDs.

Scope of Report
Use of the terms transparent and clear is subjective. Most definitions of the terms express the clarity of plastics by the percentage of light transmission as defined by American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Test D-1003. Light transmission percentages above 85 are generally accepted as transparent
although many suppliers claim clear grades with percentages of 80 or lower, making the distinction between transparent and translucent unclear. When referring to plastics and resins, the terms transparent and clear are used synonymously in this report.

Clear rigid plastics are commercially available in many forms, including injection-molded, extruded, blow-molded and thermoformed. Many clear extruded products are converted to clear films. The uses for these films are varied and include commodity, specialty, coextruded, food and medical packaging.
Packaging markets such as healthcare and food are not addressed in this report. Blow-molded clear plastics are hollow, and most are converted to bottles or containers. Thermoformed plastics are similar to injection-molded plastics but are generally thinner and require less equipment and capital outlay.

This report covers rigid, clear, non-packaging plastic products, which include injection-molded, non-film extrusion and some thermoformed (including cast sheet) plastics. Flexible and hollow thin plastics, including films, are not covered in this report. The clear resins covered in this report are: acrylics,
polycarbonates, polystyrenes, styrene block copolymers (SBCs), styrene acrylonitrile (SAN), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polysulfones, thermoplastic polyesters (almost exclusively polyethylene terephthalate (PET)), polypropylene, acrylic-styrene copolymers (SMMAs), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), nylon, cellulosic resins, cyclic olefin copolymers (COCs), and allyl diglycol carbonate (ADC) (for optical applications).

Major applications of these rigid transparent plastics include: medical, electronic, automotive, building and construction (glazing, lighting lenses, signs, and displays), housewares, appliances, toys, optical lenses, and aircraft transparencies.

Information Sources
Both primary and secondary research methodologies were used in preparing this study. A comprehensive review of the literature related to the applications and technology of rigid clear polymers and significant new developments was undertaken. Supplier and trade literature, texts and monographs were included in the review.

Following the collection and analysis of information from the literature review, unresolved issues were determined using other sources, with input from producers, suppliers and fabricators of rigid transparent plastics. The terms transparent and clear are used interchangeably throughout the report. The acronyms PS, PP and PC are often used to denote polystyrene, polypropylene and polycarbonate, respectively. Methylmethacrylate and MMA are used interchangeably, as well as polymethylmethacrylate, MMA and methylmethacrylate polymers.

Geographic Breakdown
The geographic scope of this report is the North American market, with a primary focus on the United States.

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