Bearings are machine elements that reduce friction between moving parts and the wear and tear of the machine. For example, bearings are used in skyscrapers to support during earthquakes by offering them some movement. There are two types of bearings—contact type bearings and non-contact type bearings. The plastic bearings come under the contact type bearings, also known as self-lubricated bearings.
The plastic bearings are either made of plastic polymer or have a polymer liner, a new technology, that has advantages over steel or ceramic ball bearings and thus, used as an alternative for the metal bearings. Plastic bearings provide benefits, such as lightweight models, corrosion-resistant, wear-resistant, along with resistance to acid, alkali, grease, wax and solvents, non-conductive nature, and self-lubrication. They have lower inertia and run much quieter than their metal counterparts, making them suitable for many markets.
Plastic bearings are ideal for applications with normal to high speeds, heavy loads, and can withstand extreme temperatures. They are broadly used in conveyor systems, pool cleaners, medical applications (in the MRI system as they have anti-magnetic properties), and semiconductor manufacturing industries. Owing to these properties and cost-effectiveness, the global plastic bearings market is expected to significantly during the forecast period. However, the increasing raw material prices can hamper the plastic bearings market growth.
The growing demand for bearings in automobiles is expected to boost the plastic bearings demand during the forecast period. The rising emphasis on weight reduction and the need to minimize the carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide emissions by fuel combustion (petrol and diesel) increases the demand for electric and hybrid vehicles, which is expected to propel the market growth.
The favorable government initiatives and support to increase the usage of electric vehicles also augment the plastic bearings market growth. According to the data shared by the International Energy Agency, the government incentives for electric vehicle purchases rose by 72% in 2018. Due to the rise in government support, worldwide spending on electric vehicle (EV) purchases grew more than 70% in 2018 to 82 USD billion, increasing the demand for plastic bearings. The increasing production and export of automobiles in various countries are also projected to create a surge in plastic bearings demand.
Several industrial manufacturers have started opting for plastic bearings owing to their cleanliness, cost-effectiveness, and versatility. The plastic bearings comprise alloy, solid lubricants, and a fiber matrix, provide a low friction coefficient and high strength. These advantages lead to increased adoption of plastic bearings, driving the plastic bearings market growth across the globe. Plastic bearings are self-lubricating and have corrosion-resistant and thus, can be used in hostile environments. They are lightweight, offer design flexibility, and are fuel-efficient as less energy is required for mobility allowing manufacturers to design bearings without any pattern constraints.
Plastic bearings can be used on pulleys and plastic wheels to enable product integration, reducing the assembly time and increasing cost-effectiveness. Plastic bearings are efficient and require low maintenance costs, which bolster their in various end-use industries boosting the market growth.
The Asia-Pacific market is projected to observe the fastest market growth during the forecast period. The growth can be attributed to the growing population, urbanization, and industrialization which has led to an increase in demand for plastic bearings from various end-use industries such as automobile, textile, food processing, medical and pharmaceutical, packaging, and chemical in the region. Manufacturers focusing on this region due to the low manufacturing costs and cheap labor availability also contribute to the regional market growth.
China and India are considered home to the world’s largest machinery and motor vehicle industries, which further supports a substantial amount of plastic bearing demand. The significant factor contributing to regional market growth is the presence of leading automobile manufacturers leading to high production, sales, and export of automobiles boosting the demand for plastic bearings.
The Indian domestic automobile production increased at a 2.36% CAGR between 2016 and 2020, with 26.36 million vehicles being manufactured in the country in 2020, according to the data shared by the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF). The automobile export reached 4.77 million vehicles in 2020, growing at a CAGR of 6.94% from 2016 to 2020, and is projected to grow further during the forecast period owing properties such as lightweight, low maintenance, lubrication-free, corrosion and chemical-resistant, and high wear and fatigue resistant.
Europe is expected to be the second-largest region for the global plastic bearings market during the forecast period owing to the sustainable economic growth and rising investments in various end-use industries such as automobiles, textiles, and aerospace. The demand for plastic bearings in the region is driven by the presence of large automobile production facilities and significant demand for high-performance machines from the construction, power, and aviation sectors. The growth of the automotive industry which extensively uses bearings due to its lightweight is also expected to exhibit considerable market growth. The region is home to various top automotive brands and is one of the world's biggest automotive producers.
The implementation of favorable the European Union commission policies for regional automotive sector such as the “GEAR 2030”, or “European Battery Alliance“ that aims at an internal market, environmental protection and safety, stable level playing field, and strengthening competition, is further projected to propel the regional automotive industry’s growth. According to the report shared by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, the commercial vehicle registrations across the European Union recorded an increase of 5.7% in December 2019.
The increasing demand for electric and hybrid vehicles is also positively impacting the regional plastic bearings market growth. According to the International Council on Clean Transportation, hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) in the EU was 3% of all new car sales in 2018 which is projected to grow further during the forecast period. The region is home to several industrialized countries such as Germany, France, and the U.K, where there is a strong demand for bearings from various major end-use industries, such as construction, packaging, and others due to an increase in the consumer disposable income, flourishing e-commerce, along with increasing machine usage which is expected to contributing to the regional plastic bearings market growth during the forecast period.
The global plastic bearing market comprises both small and big players. The big players of the market have been adopting strategies, such as agreements, expansions, acquisitions, joint ventures, investments, and research and development to retain their position and increase their market share.