Low profile additives are thermoplastic/elastomeric polymers that are added to polyester or glass composites during formulation to improve surface finish and avoid shrinkage. Composites undergo high volumetric shrinkage during polymerization of unsaturated polyester resin resulting in poor surface appearance, fiber prominence, warpage of molded parts and internal cracks and voids. Low profile additives are mixed with unsaturated polyester resins to prevent shrinkage during polymerization (7% to 10% by volume) to conserve its dimensional stability. During polymerization, low profile additives, and unsaturated polyester resins are in homogeneous liquid phase and with the rise in temperature unsaturated polyester resins polymerize causing expansion of low profile additives.
The expansion capability of low profile additives results in the final product being less susceptible to shrinkage. Key low profile additives used include polyvinyl acetate (PVAc), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polystyrene (PS) and polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). Major application segments of low profile additives include sheet molding and bulk molding compounds, pultrusion and resin transfer molding. Increasing application scope owing to maintenance free, light weight and other such properties of SMC/BMC, pultruded plastics and RTM products will augment growth over the forecast period. Automobile manufacturers are focusing on reducing CO2 emissions and fuel efficiency in vehicles by reducing weight. SMC/ BMC and pultruded plastics help in reducing the weight of the vehicle resulting in confinement to emission standards. Increasing demand for SMC/BMC pultruded plastics and RTM products in automobiles, construction and infrastructural activities will increase demand for low profile additives in the next six years. Increasing construction activities as a result of infrastructure development and industrialization worldwide is expected to boost demand for the low profile additive market. Growing automobile industry in Asia Pacific is expected to boost further market demand.
Products such as polyvinyl acetate (PVAc), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), polystyrene (PS) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) are primarily used as low profile additives. Polyvinyl acetate (PVAc) was the widest used low profile additive accounting for more than 40 % of the total market share in 2013. Polyvinyl acetate (PVAc) is used for resin thickening in sheet molding compounds owing to polar characteristics. Additionally, PVAc is highly compatible with unsaturated polyester resins as compared to other low profile additives. Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) also exhibits similar properties as PVAc resulting in its use in automotive and construction industry to a large extent.
North America demand for low profile additives, by product, 2013 - 2020 (Kilo Tons)
Key applications of low profile additives include sheet and bulk molding compounds, pultrusion, and resin transfer molding. Sheet/ bulk molding compounds emerged as the leading application segment and accounted for 62% of total market volume in 2013. Low profile additives are used in sheet and bulk molding compound, which is a compression molded mix of polyester and vinyl ester resins, fiberglass and mineral filler. Pultrusion and RTM applications of low profile additives find end use in the construction industry which is expected to boost market demand.
Asia Pacific was the leading consumer of low profile additives due to high consumption of sheet and bulk molding compounds. Sheet and bulk molding compounds are mostly used in automobiles where light weight moldable thermoplastics are required. China is the largest producer of automobiles owing to advanced technology and low labor cost resulting in high demand for low profile additives in Asia Pacific. Ongoing and planned future infrastructure and construction projects in Brazil, Africa, and the Middle East are expected to account for the growth of low profile additives in RoW.
Companies in the market include Ashland Composite Polymers, CCP Composites, Reichhold Chemicals Inc, Arkema, Wacker Chemie, Cray Valley, Momentive Specialty Chemicals Inc, PolyOne Corporation, Lucite International, FRP Services & Company. The market has a higher degree of consolidation owing to a limited number of manufacturers.
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