The global sulfone polymers market features a markedly high level of consolidation, with the top two vendors, namely Solvay S.A. and BASF SE, accounted for nearly 80% of the overall market in 2015, observes a recent report by Transparency Market Research. It has also been observed that the demand for sulfone polymers is largely surpassing the supply on a global level. Thus, developing a strong supply chain and expansion of production units could be an excellent strategy for companies wishing to make a mark in this bullish marketplace.
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Leading vendors are actively looking for enhancing their distribution channels through agreements with established distributors. The distribution agreement signed by Solvay Specialty Polymers with Biesterfeld Plastic GmbH in 2015 for the distribution of Solvay’s sulfone polymer grades in Scandanavia and Finland is a fine account of Solvay’s attempt to exploit this opportunity.
Transparency Market Research estimates that the global sulfone polymer market was valued at US$805.4 mn in 2015 and is projected to reach US$1,394.7 mn by 2024, expanding at a CAGR of 6.4% from 2016 to 2024. In terms of product types/grades of sulfone polymers, the PSU segment generated US$331.0 mn of sales, accounting for 41.1% of the market in 2015. The segment’s share is expected to decrease by 0.4% share by 2024. Geographically, the market in North America leads, accounting for a share of more than 39% in the overall market in 2015.
Demand across Medical Industry Continues to be Key Driving Force
The global market for sulfone polymers gains a significant share in its overall revenue from business across the medical industry. Being more wear- and corrosion-resistant as compared to their metal counterparts, a variety of biocompatible grades of sulfone polymers have started replacing metals in the manufacture of medical devices and implants. Thanks to the rapidly expanding base of geriatric population across a number of countries, the global demand for medical implants has significantly increased in the past few years. Over the forecast period, the vast rise in demand for sulfone polymers from the medical field is expected to be one of the most prominent drivers of the global sulfone polymers market.
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Regulatory and Cost Constraints Could Impede Growth
The use of sulfone polymers across a number of applications requires the fulfilling of a large number of regulatory terms. This is especially a huge concern when the use of sulfone polymers in the fields of medical implants, medical devices, and aircrafts is considered. The delay in obtaining the required approvals could lead to delay in introducing new products in these industries.
The usage of sulfone polymers could also be limited by health regulatory bodies in food contact applications such as baby bottles, owing to the concerns regarding the leakage of bisphenol monomers into food products. Research studies have shown that these bisphenols can have endocrine system disrupting properties. As a result, the use of sulfone polymers in the food industry could witness a decline over the forecast period, hindering the overall growth prospects of the global market.
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Moreover, the market’s growth is also constrained to a certain extent owing to the high costs involved in setting up new production facilities of sulfone polymers. This aspect has deterred many polymer companies from foraying into the market, resulting in a consolidated marketplace. The high cost of end products is compelling end-use industries to explore less expensive alternatives such as reinforced polypropylene, limiting the demand for sulfone polymers in the global market.