A recently completed study on engineering polymers, carried out by DJS Research Ltd., an independent UK-based consultancy specializing in market research, has yielded some interesting findings. Published in August, one of the more notable findings—for suppliers, at least—is perhaps the fact that fully 70% of clients are think that demand for engineering polymers will rise substantially. This was particularly true for plastics processors in the UK and Germany, who reported expecting a notable increase in their requirements for engineering polymers. While lightweighting was cited by many as a significant driver behind this trend, this is just one of several beneficial product characteristics allowing engineering polymers to substitute other materials in a wide variety of applications.
The research showed that engineering polymers are fast becoming the material of choice for components in often hostile environments. David Marchant, Research Manager at DJS Research, noted that companies are increasingly looking to use these plastics for complex applications, which was creating both an opportunity and a challenge.
While the combination of new applications, new clients and indeed the as yet untapped opportunities in regions across the world are all cause for optimism, it brings challenges, too.
A Product Manager at a German molder supplying to the Aerospace industry summarized his take on the positive outlook by saying, “In China and India, customers are only just starting to replace components with substitutes made out of engineering polymers, so we’d expect a consistent increase in our requirements.”
Yet, businesses across the engineering polymer value chain are under increasing pressure as they strive to cater for the needs of new clients and applications. The challenges faced range from product feature requirements such as thermal and chemical stability through to color consistency, but also encompass supply reliability and consistency of product quality. Consequently, converters are looking to their suppliers for higher levels of support, reliability and indeed for closer cooperation and a deepening of the customer supplier relationship. In fact, according to this research, 79% of users have one main supplier of engineering plastics.
The report is the result of more than 300 telephone interviews conducted by DJS Research with senior decision makers and influencers across the entire engineering polymer value chain. Participants included managing directors, purchasing, product and production managers, as well as technical staff at Original Equipment Manufacturers, Tier 1 /2 suppliers and processors. The research was carried out between January and July 2015, and more details about the results will be presented at the Fakuma trade show in October, in Friedrichshafen, Germany.