Microcrystalline wax is a type of wax which is produced during the refining of petroleum. It comprises of properties such as higher molecular weight, high melting point, high viscosity, high density and more elastic than paraffin wax. It contains napthenic and isoparaffinic hydrocarbons. These properties have resulted in the rising demand of microcrystalline wax from various industries including cosmetics, adhesives, rubber and tire and castings. It consists of very fine crystals and they are less distinct than paraffin wax. This allows it to be used in various applications such as linings and coatings, laminated paper products, different types of polishes and in sealing compositions. This has propelled the overall demand of microcrystalline wax and is expected to grow in the next seven years. The economic recovery in the last few years has helped in fuelling demand. Many refineries combine paraffin and microcrystalline wax in the manufacturing of rubber and tire. It is also a key component in the manufacturing of petrolatum which is utilized in various industries including candle, cosmetics and personal care. Although there has been a rise in prices on account of reduction in production capacities of some manufacturers but this has not affected the overall demand of the product.
The character of microcrystalline wax hugely depends on some key factors which include crude oil source, method used for refining and degree of refining. This helps in defining the properties and types of applications. Its crystalline structure allows it to be more flexible, increases its toughness, and has enabled it to bind with other solvents which help in preventing sweating-out of any composition. The binding property of this type of wax is commonly utilized in metal casting process which is responsible for providing dimensional stability to the metal and has augmented its demand from various automobile and heavy machinery manufacturers. These characteristics are contributing to the rise in demand from the industrial paints and coatings sector and the adhesives sector which has fueled growth. There are mainly three grades of microcrystalline wax and they are laminating, coating and hardening. Its coating grade is mostly used in manufacturing of inks, chewing gum bases and plastic rubber. This has resulted in a rise in its demand in the past few years. Rising demand for cars on account of growing population and constantly improved standard of living especially in the emerging markets like India, China and Brazil has augmented its demand and this trend is expected to continue over the forecast period.
Furthermore, it is a key component for the personal care and pharmaceutical industries. In cosmetics it is used various products including cold creams, lipsticks and different types of ointments. It acts as a natural base for these products on account of its ability to lubricate, carry medication and pigments and provide protection against moisture. This makes it an essential raw material. Rising awareness of different types of beauty products has led to an increase in their consumption which has contributed to the growth of microcrystalline wax. The cosmetics industry has seen a tremendous growth in the last few years owing to the fact that people are getting more conscious about their appearance. This has led to the rise in consumption of anti-agent creams and cold creams which in turn has contributed to the growing demand for the product. This type of wax is very popular in countries where winter sports such as snowboarding and ice hockey owing to its adhesive ability which helps in preventing the degradation of tape on the ice hockey stick and in the snowboard it is applied to reduce friction which enhances the gliding capability. This helps the rider to have better control and balance.
Some of the major manufacturers are IGI wax which also manufactures bio-degradable microcrystalline waxes which are inhibiting grease and moisture resistant properties. Sonneborn, LLC which is not only a manufacturer but also a major supplier caters mostly to packaging industries where it is used in the laminated product applications. Other companies include Shell Group, Sasolwax, Indian Oil Corporation limited, KahlWax, Nippon Seiro, British Wax and DONGNAM PETROCHEMICALS. Sasolwax recently announced that it was expanding production capacity in South Africa.
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