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Plastics in Electronics Components: Technologies and Global Markets

  • September 2017
  • 177 pages
  • ID: 801567


Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction
Study Goals and Objectives
This study focuses on the use of plastics in electronics components. It considers the wide range of thermoplastics and thermosetting polymers (including polyurethanes) that are being used in electronics components found in industrial, automotive and consumer electronics. It reviews the most recent developments in these materials that respond to the changing needs of the markets, and it analyzes the current and likely future sizes of these markets, broken down by component and by polymer type.

Reasons for Doing This Study
Plastics consumption in electronics components has been growing at rates well above the growth in gross domestic product for many years. Electronics products have invaded virtually all areas of our personal and business lives, and their levels of sophistication continue to increase. The amount of electronics in automobile control, driver assist and infotainment systems is rising rapidly.

Cloud computing is carried out on a massive scale, and now the Internet of Everything is connecting devices as well as people.
At the same time, the tendency of many personal electronics to become fashion items has reduced product life cycles, with each new product generation putting new demands, in performance and especially cost, on the materials that go into them.

In addition, the increasing visibility of electronics devices, most notably in mobile devices (smartphones and tablets), has been a key driver in pushing electronics companies to use more “environment-friendly” technologies and materials in their products. As a result, the market is in a state of permanent flux, and regular reappraisals are called for. This report is a fully revised update of an earlier version prepared in 2015.

Scope of Report
This study covers all electronics components where plastics are used to a significant extent. It concentrates on components produced by injection molding, compression molding and encapsulation. It does not cover wire and cable, films used in capacitors or recording media, or enclosures.

The study also identifies major material suppliers and key processors. It reviews important new technologies, as well as changes in legislation and industry standards and norms that may have significant effects on markets for electronics components, and it looks at interpolymer competition.

Information Sources
Both primary and secondary information sources were used in preparing this report. A comprehensive review was undertaken of literature relating to polymers used to produce electronics components, their applications, and technologies used to produce the components, markets and producers along the supply chain around the world. Included in the review was literature from manufacturers, associations and independent observers. Interviews were also carried out with various experts in the field.

Following collection and analysis of information from the literature review, unresolved issues were resolved from other sources, with input from producers, suppliers and fabricators of rigid transparent plastics. Additional details are provided in Chapter 4, Market Breakdown by Technology Type.

Geographic Breakdown
The market projections in this report are for the global market in its entirety.

Plastics Used in Electronics Components, by Type
Standard Nylons

Epoxy Resins

Plastics Used in Electronics Products, by Application
Coil Formers

Chapter 2: Summary and Highlights
The electronics industry is a major user of high performance thermoplastic and thermosetting polymers.
Almost every type of engineering thermoplastic (ETP) is used in one type of electronics component or another, although standard nylons (polyamides) and thermoplastic polyesters (generally polybutylene terephthalate) are by far the two dominant polymer families – especially among connectors, which account for the lion’s share of total business in electronics components.

As the use of electronics devices extends into more aspects of our working lives and leisure activities, so the consumption of engineering thermoplastics in this sector continues to grow, even as the average size of each individual component used continues to decrease, and improvements in polymer processability and end-use performance allow wall thicknesses to be reduced.

In many cases, and especially in certain types of connector, ETPs are treated by specifiers as commodities, and the choice of material is governed probably just as much by price as it is by performance. In higher-performance applications, this is much less so the case, although even here suppliers of high-temperature nylons (a group that includes polyphthalamides, nylons 46, 4T and others) are battling it out with suppliers of liquid crystal polymers (LCPs, which are particular forms of thermoplastic polyesters), polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) and other polymer types. Still further up the performance ladder are various types of polyaryletherketone, the most common of which is polyetheretherketone.

Polyimides have something of a niche in the electronics components market. Available in thermoset and thermoplastic form, they are used mostly in film form for flexible electronics. Here, they face some competition from films in different types of polyester (polyethylene terephthalate and, to a lesser extent, polyethylene naphthalate) when thermal stability is not an issue. This is a submarket that is currently in a rapid state of development.

Within the family of thermosetting resins, it is epoxy resins that dominate, because of their exclusive use in rigid printed circuit boards (PCBs) and also in encapsulation. All other major thermosets: polyurethanes, phenolics, unsaturated polyesters, diallyl phthalates are used to a much lesser degree, virtually exclusively for encapsulation of sensitive electronics. Trends in their consumption are either in line with gross domestic product (GDP) or below it, as their place is taken by ETPs.

Combined global thermoplastic and thermoset volume was nearly 3.9 billion pounds in 2016 and should reach almost 6.1 billion pounds by 2022, corresponding to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.7% from 2017 to 2022.

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