The global polymer foam market size was valued at USD 94.69 billion in 2021, envisioned to reach USD 156.72 billion growing at a CAGR of 6.5% during the forecast period. Polymer foams also called expanded polymer or cellular polymer, are utilized in structural applications due to their lightweight and stiffening properties. There are two forms of polymer foams: open-cell foams and closed-cell foams. The relative density of the polymer foam, as well as its shape and size, are crucial properties of polymer foams. High-density polymer foam uses include a variety of pipe insulations with polymer densities between 60 and 80 kg/m3. Because of their low weight, excellent resistance to impact, high thermal insulation, and excellent damping qualities, polymer foams offer a wide range of potential applications. Polymer foams have been utilized in the automotive, packaging, electronic, aerospace, construction, bedding, and medical industries. In addition, rigid polystyrene foam is used extensively in freezers, microwave components, and laboratory trays.
The expanding use of various polymer foams in automotive applications is anticipated to propel polymer foam market expansion. Flexible polyurethane foams are commonly utilized in multiple car seats and door panels. In addition, changes in customers' lifestyles and shopping habits have led to a rise in demand for fast food, beverages, and numerous electronic gadgets, which has increased the demand for polymer foams used in disposable packaging. However, the non-recyclable nature of polymer foams is a significant problem for industry participants. The government's growing concern over the environmental impact of plastics may hinder global market expansion.
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Increased Usage of Polymer Foam in Building & Construction Activities and Electronics Packaging
The expansion of the polymer foam market share is anticipated to be driven by the predicted significant spike in demand for various polymer foams used in construction and building applications. Joint filler made of polymer foam is widespread in many construction projects. Due to its lightweight, low heat conduction factor, and low water absorption, polyurethane is appropriate for various construction and insulation applications. Additionally, the market demand for polymer foam in electronics packaging is anticipated to be driven by an increase in the application of electronic items like smartphones and LED televisions.
Since these foams can absorb stress and vibration while still permitting cushioning capabilities, they are an excellent choice for the protective packaging of electrical gadgets because of their versatility. \Increasing discretionary income in emerging nations has led to an increase in the market for polymer foam, which is used in various furniture foams and car seats. Because of the cushioning capabilities of polymer foam, such as polyurethane and polyethylene, it is well suited for vehicle upholstery, furniture, and bedding applications. It is anticipated that this increase in demand would serve as a driving force behind expanding the market for such foams.
The Accessibility of Different Eco-Friendly Alternatives
It is projected that the availability of a wide range of environmentally friendly alternatives, as well as the increased awareness of the government over environmental problems caused by plastics, will harm the polymer foam market growth. In packaging, for instance, recycled plastics, bamboo fiber, and biodegradable polymers can serve as suitable substitutes for traditional polystyrene foams. These recent innovations harm the expansion of the market.
The Developments in Additive Manufacturing
Because of developments in additive manufacturing of various polyurethane foams, it is now possible to print products in different customizable sizes and shapes for use in packaging applications. This has subsequently contributed to the expansion of the global market. It is projected that such recent technological advances will produce lucrative chances for the development of the industry of polymer foam.
The global polymer foam market is classified based on type, application, and region.
Based on type, the fragments are Polyurethane Foam, Polyethylene Foam, Polypropylene Foam, Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate, and Others.
The Polyurethane (PU) Foam segment is projected to advance at a CAGR of 5.6% and hole the largest market share. The exothermic reaction between the (hydroxyl) groups of a polyol and the NCO groups of an isocyanate produces polyurethane. These are utilized in various applications, including automobile and furniture industries. The expansion of the polymer foam market is anticipated to be driven by a significant increase in demand for polyurethane foam in building, furniture, and automotive applications. Due to its low density, low heat conduction coefficient, and low water absorption, polyurethane is suitable for furniture foams and automobile seats. Moreover, with the development of additive manufacturing for polyurethane foam, it is now possible to print items in custom sizes and forms for packaging applications, boosting the polymer foam market growth.
The Polyethylene (PE) Foam segment will hold the second-largest share. Polyethylene is a closed-cell polymer foam with exceptional vibration damping and insulating qualities. These are available in various forms, such as sheets, cylinders, and tubes. Significant polymer foam uses include storing, packing, and shipping sensitive electronics. The low weight and excellent load-bearing capacity contribute to cost savings in packaging. Due to their superior load-bearing ability, polyethylene foams are favored over other polyolefin foams. The expansion of demand for polyethylene foams in the automotive, packaging, and electronic appliance industries is anticipated to drive market expansion. In addition, the rise in disposable wealth in developing nations is expected to enhance the market for electronic equipment and packing foams, boosting the demand for PE foam.
The fragments are Furniture & Bedding, Transportation, Packaging, Construction, and others based on application.
The furniture & bedding segment is projected to advance at a CAGR of 6.2% and hold the largest market share. The load-bearing capacity and resilience of polymer foams make them an ideal cushioning material for furniture, beds, and carpets. Low-density polyurethane foam is mainly used for cushioning and has a low density. These are resilient and capable of retaining their form even under heavy loads. Large applications in hospitals, hotels, and commercial residences are driving the demand for polymer foams in the furniture and bedding market. Customers are becoming increasingly interested in spending on luxurious trips due to lifestyle changes and rising disposable money, increasing polymer foam market demand. Polymer foams are safe filling materials for offices, hotels, and other commercial seating cushions and mattresses. In addition, the increase in demand from various super-specialty hospitals for hospital bedding and mattresses is gaining popularity in the polymer foam sector. It will drive market expansion throughout the projection period.
The transportation segment will hold the second-largest share. Numerous producers and makers of flexible foam for automotive seats emphasize its durability and comfort over the long term. In the automotive sector, seating cushions are made from polymer foams. Increased use of polymer foam in automotive components is anticipated to sustain market expansion. Polyurethane foams are frequently used in automobile seats, bumpers, headliner ceiling sections, and door panels. As desired by consumers, decreased weight and increased fuel economy result in increased mileage and speed. Moreover, such polymer foams are easily recyclable and can be constructed into the arm rests, head rests, and a padded instrument panel. Polymer foams with a broad range of applications are anticipated to earn a substantial market share in this segment.
The region-wise segmentation of the global polymer foam market includes North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and LAMEA.
The Asia Pacific and Europe Will Dominate the Regional Market
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The Asia Pacific will command the market with the largest share while growing at a CAGR of 6.7%. China holds the largest share of the global market for polymer foam due to its widespread application in the building and packaging sectors. In addition to this, the majority of the polymer foam market in India is comprised of polyethylene polymers. It is projected that the Asia Pacific would experience robust development because of the influence of productivity increases. The developing economies in the Asia-Pacific area are embracing a diverse range of foreign machinery, which boosts the effectiveness of their output. In addition, industry participants adopted production capacity growth, which increased the overall production capacity of nations such as China, India, and South Korea. For example, in 2019, Dow Inc. announced the launch of a new polyol factory for rigid polyurethane foam in Rayong, Thailand. This plant will produce insulating materials. In the foreseeable future, such innovations will generate attractive opportunities.
Europe will hold a share of USD 48,877 million, growing at a CAGR of 6%. It is projected that increasing polymer foams in the automotive and packaging industries will promote market demand. It is projected that the increased demand for rigid and flexible polyurethane in the building and construction insulation industries, in addition to flexible packaging, will fuel polymer foam market share expansion. Intense research and development activities, as well as the presence of regulatory authorities such as EUROPUR, the European association of manufacturers of flexible polyurethane foam blocks, are further driving new investment chances in the polymer foam industry. In addition, important industry players like BASF SE, Covestro AG, Zotefoams, and DSM offer a vast array of polymer foams that contribute to the market's expansion. In Europe, the demand for polymer foams is primarily influenced by the large number of polymer foam manufacturers supplying rigid and flexible low-density polyurethane.
List of key polymer foam market suppliers profiled