The global liquid crystal polymer (LCP) films & laminates market size exceeded USD 100 million in 2015. The industry is characterized by growing preference for lightweight, sustainable materials in major end-use industries such as automotive, packaging & electronics.
Technological innovations have laid the foundation for high performance, durable films & laminates with environment-friendly properties, low maintenance costs and enhanced performance characteristics such as low coefficient of thermal expansion, high modulus strength, minimal moisture absorption, high abrasion resistance and excellent flexibility.
U.S. liquid crystal polymer (LCP) films & laminates market revenue by product, 2014 - 2024 (USD Million)
Also, the advent of these polymers into the construction & building sector has fostered the development of electrically controlled ‘smart windows’, specifically conforming to the ongoing ‘green building’ trend. These windows can transition from opaque to transparent, at the touch of a button, allowing natural light, privacy, visibility and energy savings as per customer requirements.
These films & laminates are also widely used in flexible circuit boards, 3D printable electronics and tight packaging applications owing to advantageous polymer properties which include elevated chemical, moisture & scratch resistance, elasticity and high dielectric strength.
LCP films & laminates are produced from basic raw materials such as thermoplastic LCP resins in the form of pellets or granules. Benzoic acid and p-Hydroxy naphthoic acid are other key raw materials used in the synthesis process. The supply of these materials is constrained in the global market, owing to a limited number of biphenol manufacturers, which is likely to generate higher raw material costs over the forecast period.
Laminates require adhesion to a metal foil substrate which is a copper sheet. Thus, copper & metal prices also influence the trends of the industry. Most films are processed via roll calendering or extrusion which helps to manufacture products with optimum thickness and gauge.
LCP films are increasingly being utilized to substitute polyimide films in packaging applications, owing to the former’s exceptional mechanical & chemical properties. These films are also being favored over other materials such as EVOH films, on account of their lower viscosity, production times and low maintenance costs over the long run, which in turn leads to greater cost savings.
Emerging markets in Asia Pacific and Central & South America are key consumers, owing to high consumer disposable incomes, expanding end-use industries and rising consumer awareness regarding sustainable materials. A high number of suppliers and manufacturers are also shifting their production facilities from developed countries to China & India, to take advantage of low-cost labor, ample resources, lower production costs and vast untapped markets.
On the basis of product, the global industry has been categorized into films and laminates. Films dominated the global market, accounting for over one-third of the market volume in 2015.
Inherent properties such as low coefficient of thermal expansion, reduced moisture absorption, high tensile strength as well as abrasion resistance are likely to foster films demand in several end-use industries. Heat and corrosion resistance properties are other key attributes driving these films’ demand in the automotive sector.
Laminates are also utilized in similar end-use industries. They offer a convenient form factor allowing sturdy planar construction. They also display excellent moisture absorption and mitigated leak rates which contribute sustainably towards the environment.
Films have been further categorized on the basis of their application into electrical & electronics, packaging, automotive, medical devices and other applications that include high temperature machinery components & equipment, footwear, and even nonwoven textiles for protective layering.
Electrical & electronics is likely to remain the dominant application for LCP films, occupying over 64% of the films market volume in 2015. These films are ideally suited to this application on account of the polymer’s ion-free polycondensation production process.
In addition to the above applications, LCP laminates are also utilized in consumer goods and other applications that include protective clothing, plastic disposables, and industrial waste bags. Thinner laminates are likely to witness high demand in flexible electronics, specifically for high-frequency applications above 30 GHz since they prevent unwanted disruptions caused by wave propagations.
However, the automotive & transportation segment is anticipated to emerge as the fastest growing application for laminates on account of high demand for materials with high out-gassing rates.
Regional markets analyzed in the report include North America, Europe, Asia Pacific (APAC), and Central & South America (CSA) and the Middle East & Africa (MEA). Globally, APAC was the largest market with over 48% of overall demand in 2015.
Rising consumer disposable income, transitioning lifestyles and evolving consumer preferences, specifically with the advent of advanced telecommunication technologies, IT infrastructure and small & medium enterprises (SME) are major factors driving product demand in the region.
Growing health concerns and prevalence of chronic and lifestyle-related diseases have also fostered an increment in the number of healthcare facilities across developed countries such as the U.S. and Canada, which in turn is likely to foster LCP films demand in medical devices. Overall market volume in North America is anticipated to grow at 5.0% CAGR from 2016 to 2024.
The global industry is characterized by strategic alliances among multinational players, increasing product and technological innovations, coupled with a shift in manufacturing to emerging economies such as Vietnam, Thailand, and Brazil.
The global market has numerous multinational players such as Solvay Inc., Kuraray, PolyOne Corporation, Celanese Corporation, Sumitomo Chemicals, Toray International, Rogers Corporation and other independent regional players such as RTP Company, Shanghai PRET Composites, Samsung Fine Chemicals and PolyPlastics Co. Ltd.
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