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Technical Foam Market

Technical Foam Market: Information by Product Foam (Flexible, Rigid, Sprays), Material (Elastomeric, Polyurethane), End-User Industry (Medical, Packaging), and Region-Forecast Till 2030

Published At : 01 Sep, 2022
Updated At : 02 Sep, 2022
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Market Snapshot
Base Year:
2021
Study Period:
2020-2030
CAGR:
6.5 %
Fastest Growing Market:
Europe
Largest Market:
Asia Pacific

The global technical foam market size was valued at USD 35.45 billion in 2021, envisioned to advance at a CAGR of 6.5% and reach USD 58.67 billion during the forecast period. Technical foam includes all foam solutions created for commercial and industrial applications. Foams developed specifically for industrial applications, such as insulating against heat and noise, laminating, packaging, or sealing, fall under "technical foams." It primarily comprises polyurethane, polyethylene, polystyrene, expanded foam, and various polymers and elastomeric blends. To form a variety of three-dimensional forms, the foam can be molded into blocks, cut from sheets, or sliced into sheets. It is available in many colors as both open- and closed-cell foams. Technical foams have numerous parameters, including density, cell count, and hardness. Additionally, the foam can be infused with antistatic, conductive, or antimicrobial properties. Recyclable packaging implants made from polyurethane and polyethylene foams are one of the most prevalent application areas of technical foams in people's daily lives.

The global market for technical foam is driven by several factors, including an increase in demand for technical foam from the automotive and transportation sector, an increase in demand for acoustic solutions to combat noise pollution, and an increase in demand for energy-efficient buildings. Foam seats and door panels are suitable for cushioning applications due to their low density, low heat conduction coefficient, and low water absorption. In addition, technical foams enable automotive engineers to design lighter components to improve fuel economy. Technical foam solutions provide superior energy absorption and acoustic insulation to increase passenger comfort. However, fluctuations in the availability and cost of raw materials and the health risks associated with spray foam use restrain the technical foam market growth.

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Market Dynamics

Market Drivers

The Increasing Demand from Electronics, Automotive, and Healthcare Industries

Since technical foams can cushion while also absorbing shock and vibration, they are an excellent option for the protective packaging of electronic appliances. The market for electronics worldwide is anticipated to expand speedily during the forecast period. In addition, the growth of the middle class increases demand for consumer devices and electronics. The rapid expansion of internet services across various developed and developing economies worldwide creates strong growth prospects for the consumer electronics market. Consequently, it is expected to boost the demand for foam-based electronic packaging solutions like clamshells and cases. Due to the growth of e-commerce logistics, a surge in demand for electronic packaging is anticipated.

Additionally, the automotive industry was one of the primary drivers of the demand for technical foams in 2019. It is assumed that this industry will continue to be one of the significant contributors throughout the forecast period. The automotive sector primarily employs foams to improve fuel efficiency, comfort, noise reduction, and device protection. Automotive foam products have significant expansion potential, such as in heavy and light commercial vehicles. The inherent lightness of polymeric foams enables the automotive industry to design cars with low emissions and improved fuel economy. Thus, as the automotive market expands, the demand for technical foams will progressively increase.

The global expenditure on healthcare is anticipated to increase during the forecast period. Thus, the demand for medical-grade cushioning and packaging is expected to increase due to population growth and rising healthcare expenditures. In manufacturing orthopedic implant packaging, foam materials such as XLPE and PU are utilized. In the packaging of medical devices and for custom thermoforming into trays or clamshells, rigid polyester and polypropylene foams are used. Conforming to stringent quality control standards, foam-based medical packaging aids in preserving the integrity of the packed product. Therefore, such variables are expected to boost the market for technical foam throughout the forecast period.

Market Restraints

Foam Materials Related Environmental Concerns

The growth of the technical foam market is anticipated to be hindered by the availability of a vast array of eco-friendly alternatives and the government's growing concern over environmental issues posed by plastics. Spray polyurethane foam is frequently used in buildings for insulation. This material contains many harmful chemicals to humans and other organisms. For example, recycled plastics, bamboo fiber, and biodegradable plastics can be substituted for conventional polystyrene foams in packaging applications. These new developments have a negative influence on the technical foam market growth.

Key Market Opportunities

A Shift towards Bio-Based Technical Foam

Bio-based foams are not new, but the trend is still effective and supported by new product innovations. The TR-EECell foam product line received the highest DIN CERTCO bio-based certification in 2019. The product is almost entirely composed of biomass-derived raw materials (sugar cane). The ethanol required for the foam is derived from fermented sugar cane juices extracted during the final three steps of the extraction process and is therefore unfit for human consumption. Bio-Foam is highly environmentally friendly because it is made from renewable resources. Bio-Foam can be reformed into a new foam product or recycled into solid PLA after use. This results in creating better prospects for the technical foam market demand.

Segmental Analysis

The global technical foam market is classified based on product foam, material, end-user industry, and region.

By Product Foam Analysis

Segmentation based on product foam includes flexible, rigid, and spray.

The flexible foam segment is estimated to have the most significant market proportion during the forecast period and grow at a CAGR of 5.71%. Flexible foams are used in home and office furniture, mattresses, and automotive fabrics as cushioning materials. It is composed of cushioning foams of various types. They are utilized to attain noise & thermal, moisture, chemical, and flame protection. Flexible foams are used by the two largest end-users of technical foams, which are the automotive and construction industries. In addition, the key players in the market for technical foams offer flexible and innovative foam products. Their selection of goods varies in terms of density, thickness, and suppleness. It is anticipated that the differentiation of flexible foam products will increase their market acceptance, thereby increasing their demand.

The rigid foam segment will hold the second-largest share. Compared to flexible foams, rigid foams are dense and resilient. It is available in sheets, blocks, and molded shapes. They can be generated from various metallic and non-metallic sources, but polymer-based rigid foams are less energy-intensive and easier to formulate. The principal rigid foam end-user industries are building & construction, packaging, and automotive. Rigid foams offer resilience, energy savings, and moisture control, which are crucial for the construction and automotive industries. An increasing emphasis has been placed on energy conservation to prevent global warming. Rigid foam building insulation materials can increase a home's energy efficiency by up to 70%, saving up to 40 BTUs of energy for every BTU of energy used to produce the material.

By Material Analysis

Segmentation based on material includes elastomeric, polyurethane, polyethylene, and others.

The polyurethane material segment is estimated to hold the most significant market proportion during the forecast period and grow at a CAGR of 6.51%. The production of polyurethane involves an exothermic reaction between the groups of a polyol and the NCO groups of an isocyanate. These are utilized in various applications, including automotive and furniture industries. Changing the functionality of the polyol and the type of isocyanate used in the foam can alter its properties. The growth of the technical foam market share is anticipated to be driven by a significant increase in demand for polyurethane foam in construction, furniture, and automotive applications. Polyurethane's low density, low heat conduction coefficient, and low water absorption make it suitable for various furniture foams and car seats. The thickness of polyurethane foams used in cushion materials and sofa sets is approximately four times lower than that of conventional rubber.

The polyethylene segment will hold the second-largest share. Polyethylene foam is a closed-cell polymer foam with exceptional vibration damping and insulating properties. These are available in various forms, such as sheets, cylinders, and tubes. Due to their superior load-bearing ability, polyethylene foams are favored over other polyolefin foams. Critical polymer foam applications include sensitive electronics storage, packaging, and transportation. The low weight and high load-bearing capacity contribute to cost savings in packaging. In addition, the rise in disposable income in developing nations is anticipated to increase the demand for electronic gadgets and packaging foams.

By End-User Industry Analysis

Segmentation based on end-user industry includes automotive & transportation, electrical & electronics, building & construction, medical, sporting equipment, packaging, and others.

The automotive & transportation industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.45% and hold the largest share during the forecast period. The automotive and transportation industry primarily employs rigid and flexible foams for safety and shock absorption around in-vehicle devices. Mainly, PU foams are utilized as seat cushions, armrests, and headrests. In addition, these are used for sound insulation and vibration damping in automobiles. The low weight of polymer foams helps reduce the overall vehicle weight. To improve fuel efficiency, the automotive industry prioritizes the reduction of vehicle mass. Enhancing fuel economy while adhering to environmental regulations is anticipated to foster the growth of this market segment over the forecast period.

The medical sector is expected to hold the second-largest share. Hip, knee, and spine implants can be packaged with foam materials like polyurethane. It protects orthopedic implants from abrasion and puncture until they are surgically implanted into a patient. During the forecast period, the medical segment of the technical foam market is primarily driven by the development of the global healthcare sector. The demand for medical-grade cushioning and packaging is anticipated to increase due to the rising population and healthcare expenditures. The need for foams will increase exponentially as medical institutions expand their market presence.

Regional Analysis

The region-wise segmentation of the global technical foam market includes North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and LAMEA.

The Asia Pacific and Europe Will Dominate the Regional Market

Technical Foam Market Regional Analysis

Regional Growth Insights Request Sample Pages

Asia Pacific will command the market with the largest share during the forecast period and grow at a CAGR of 6.85%. China was the most significant contributor to revenue in 2019 and is anticipated to continue to be a substantial contributor throughout the forecast period. This can be attributed to the country's thriving construction, electronics, and healthcare industries. In the construction and packaging industries, technical foams are also utilized. India is, like China, a crucial region for expanding the technical foam market share over the forecast period. China and India both have a growing population and a rising standard of living. Thus, the demand for building insulation solutions increases.

Europe will hold a revenue share of USD 18,691 million and grow at a CAGR of 6.25%. The European market for technical foam is primarily driven by the automobiles & transportation industry and the medical sector. Increased use of polymer foams in the automotive and packaging industries is anticipated to boost market demand. It is expected that the government's role in vehicle emission management will play a significant role in the future increase in demand for foam solutions. In addition, the need for rigid and flexible polyurethane in applications such as construction, building insulation, and flexible packaging is anticipated to accelerate Europe's technical foam market growth. In addition, the inclusion of governing bodies like EUROPUR, the European association of manufacturers of flexible polyurethane foam blocks, encourages the development of new investment opportunities in the technical foam market.

Industry Players of the Market

List of key technical foam market suppliers profiled

  • Armacell
  • BASF SE
  • Covestro AG
  • Dow Inc.
  • Furukawa Electric Co. Ltd.
  • Huntsman Corporation
  • Kaneka Corporation
  • Recticel, Rogers Corporation
  • SABIC, Sealed Air Corporation
  • Sekisui Chemical Co. Ltd.
  • Woodbridge Group
  • Zotefoams Plc.

Recent Developments

  • In 2022, Armacell acquired AD IZOLIR, a significant manufacturer of pre-insulated pipes, focusing on diversifying Armacell's product portfolio.
  • In 2022, BASF SE and Confoil collaborated to develop DualPakECOâ, a certified compostable and dual ovenable food tray based on paper.

Global Technical Foam Market: Segmentation

By Product Foam

  • Flexible
  • Rigid
  • Spray

By Material

  • Elastomeric
  • Polyurethane
  • Polyethylene
  • Others 

By End-User Industry

  • Automotive & Transportation
  • Electrical & Electronics
  • Building & Construction
  • Medical
  • Sporting Equipment
  • Packaging
  • Others

By Region

  • North America 
  • Europe
  • Asia Pacific
  • LAMEA
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