The global thermoformed plastics market size was estimated at USD 12.3 billion in 2019 and is expected to register a CAGR of 4.9% from 2020 to 2027. The increasing demand for thermoformed plastics from the healthcare and pharmaceutical packaging sectors is projected to be a key factor driving the market growth over the forecast period.
The thermoforming process involves fabrication of plastic sheets, after which they are heated so as to convert them into a flexible form which can be molded into the desired shape which varies based on the end-use application. Thermoformed plastics are increasingly used as a metal replacement using the heavy gauge process, making them suitable for applications such as transportation, industrial equipment, aerospace, kiosks, and medical devices.
In the medical industry, thermoformed plastics are used in the manufacturing of diagnostic systems, accessories, and medical plants. Thermoforming includes a manufacturing process of converting a two-dimensional thermo polymer into a three dimensional shape. In the pharmaceutical industry, thermoformed plastics are used for products such as prefilled syringes, pharmaceutical bottles, and medicine electronics as well as for capsules and tablets packing such as blister packaging.
The food industry is a major application segment for thermoformed plastics, which is expected to positively impact the global thermoformed plastic market over the forecast period. Thermoformed plastics are preferred over wood or glass for food packaging as these plastics are lightweight, flexible, bacteria-resistant, and odor-free and displays high moisture barrier.
Polypropylene emerged as the leading product segment in 2019 with a share of over 23.0% in terms of volume. This trend is expected to continue through the forecast period. Commonly used resins in thermoformed plastic production include polyethylene (PE), polystyrene (PS), and polypropylene (PP).
PP is a thermoplastic polymer and is widely used to produce food packaging products such as cups, trays, margarine tubs, sandwich packs, disposable products, beverage glasses, and microwaveable containers. A growing number of manufacturers using polypropylene for packaging products would subsequently drive the overall demand for thermoformed plastics.
Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) is expected to register the highest CAGR over the forecast period. This is attributed to the advantages it offers, such as light transmission, high surface hardness, and extended service life, along with certain properties such as high resistance to weathering and UV light. It is also completely recyclable and is hence environment-friendly, further driving the segment growth.
Increasing innovations, product developments, and investments on PMMA have been observed, particularly in the Middle Eastern region. For instance, Mitsubishi Rayon and SABIC announced a new joint venture for building a PMMA plant in Saudi Arabia. Key industry players which account for a major share of the overall manufacturing of PMMA include Mitsubishi Rayon Co. Ltd, Evonik Industries AG, and Altuglas International.
Thin gauge thermoformed plastic dominated the market in 2019 and is expected to remain the largest process segment through the forecast period. Thermoformed plastics are manufactured through contact, radiant, and hot air heating techniques. Increasing demand for thin gauge thermoformed plastics for products such as medical device packaging trays in the healthcare sector is anticipated to drive the segment growth over the forecast period.
Thick gauge thermoforms are sturdy and rigid enclosures which are used to pack electronic equipment. Thick gauge thermoformed plastics are used in a wide range of applications including front and rear bumpers and interior trim components in heavy trucks industry. They are also used in enclosures for treadmills and weights in fitness equipment; large decorative signs in signage; cowlings, dash components, and fenders in the agricultural sector; and cab interiors and engine covers in the construction equipment industry.
Plug assist forming is projected to be the fastest-growing process segment over the forecast period. Rising use of plug assist forming products in food packaging is projected to boost the market growth. Packaging materials formed using this method has a uniform wall thickness with reduced starting gauge, and hence helps protect the product within the packaging.
AMUT Group manufactured a thermoforming machine whose properties include servo driven plug assist on lower and upper mold platens, good mold clamping and cutting force performance, and various heat oven configurations. This machine is designed to handle materials such as PVC, PLA, PP, EPS, PS, HIPS, OPS, CPET, RPET, APET, and PET.
Food packaging emerged as the leading application segment in 2019. Thermoformed plastics are widely used in the food industry for the packaging of fruits; vegetables; confectionery products; meat, poultry, and fish; and prepared meals. Thermoformed packaging is also suitable for use in the medical and healthcare sector as it comprises a range of materials that help enhance the appearance of the final product. Packaging products used in the healthcare and medical sector include medical devices, medical trays, procedure trays, pharmaceutical packaging, and protective packaging.
Automotive is projected to be the fastest-growing application segment over the forecast period. Thermoformed plastics are preferred for electric vehicles as they are durable and lightweight. Increasing demand for automotive panels, liners, and vehicle parts is further expected to drive the segment growth over the forecast period. The University of Delaware Center for Composite Materials (UD-CCM), in partnership with National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS), effectively designed a product to meet structural and crash safety requirements using thermoplastic composites.
North America dominated the global market with a share of around 54.0% in terms of revenue in 2019. Rapid industrialization and advancements in the packaging industry are projected to drive the thermoformed plastics market in the region over the forecast period. Growing number of manufacturers and suppliers of thermoformed plastic products in this region is further expected to drive the regional market. U.S. is a significant market for thermoformed plastics, followed by Canada.
Asia Pacific is expected to be the fastest-growing regional market over the forecast period. Emerging economies in the region such as India and China have been experiencing strong economic growth. China is the largest producer and supplier of thermoformed plastics equipment using various types of technologies in this region. Rapid urbanization and increasing per capita disposable income in the region is projected to drive the regional market over the forecast period. In addition, the growth of the automotive market and the subsequent demand for lightweight components to improve the efficiency of the vehicle is anticipated to drive the regional demand for thermoformed plastics.
The global market is highly competitive and fairly concentrated, with four major companies-Pactiv LLC, D&W Fine Pack LLC, Genpak LLC, and Sonoco Plastics-accounting for a maximum share in the market. Other major industry participants include Placon Corporation, Anchor Packaging, Spencer Industries, Brentwood Industries, Greiner Packaging, and Silgan Plastics.
Extensive product offerings for end-use industries such as medical, food packaging, electrical and electronics, consumer and commercial sector, automotive, construction, and pharmaceuticals has a significant impact on increasing competitiveness in this market. Companies adopt strategies such as mergers and acquisitions in an attempt to expand their presence and increase their market share.
Base year for estimation
Actual estimates/Historical data
2016 - 2018
2020 - 2027
Revenue in USD Million, volume in kilotons, and CAGR from 2020 to 2027
North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Central & South America, Middle East & Africa
Revenue forecast, volume forecast, competitive landscape, growth factors and trends
U.S., Canada, Mexico, U.K., Germany, France, Italy, China, India, Japan
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This report forecasts revenue and volume growth at global, regional, and country levels and provides an analysis of latest industry trends in each of the sub-segments from 2016 to 2027. For the purpose of this study, Grand View Research has segmented the global thermoformed plastics market report on the basis of product, process, application, and region:
Product Outlook (Volume, Kilotons; Revenue, USD Million, 2016 - 2027)
Polymethyl Methacrylate (PMMA)
Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)
Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC)
High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS)
Process Outlook (Volume, Kilotons; Revenue, USD Million, 2016 - 2027)
Plug Assist Forming
Thick Gauge thermoforming
Thin Gauge Thermoforming
Application Outlook (Volume, Kilotons; Revenue, USD Million, 2016 - 2027)
Healthcare & Medical
Electrical & Electronics
Consumer Goods & Appliances
Regional Outlook (Volume, Kilotons; Revenue, USD Million, 2016 - 2027)
Central & South America
Middle East & Africa
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Pathology laboratories are witnessing unusually high volumes, specifically due to the rise in the number of tests being performed for Covid-19 screening & diagnosis. In major areas, where the outbreak is rampant, the impact is much greater in terms of revenue generation and the demand-supply gap. These effects will be a part of the updated market analysis.