The post-2010 period was witness to a new dawn of renewed confidence among all industry participants after the major economies worldwide exhibited signs of revival, albeit on a controlled basis. This further had a much needed positive impact on the market for industrial adhesives, with a slew of novel applications, such as in the automotive and aerospace sectors, coming to the rescue. Coupled with the fact that booming Asian economies, such as China and India, showed renewed signs of development in the construction sector, demand for industrial adhesives took off at the start of the decade. While it is anticipated that global demand for industrial adhesives is likely to register a growth of over 4% in terms of volume in 2013 over 2012, the same is expected to be in excess of 5% in terms of value between these years.
Transportation Surges Ahead, Other Sectors Not Too Far Behind
A rapidly recovering automotive sector, in combination with the trend of producing lightweight vehicles for cutting down fuel consumption, have set the demand for industrial adhesives on a fast moving growth track. All long-term indications point towards the sustainability of this growing demand, as lightweight materials, such as engineered plastics, ceramics and composites take the place of traditionally used metals, such as steel and metal fasteners, which, in turn, require specialty adhesives for appropriate bonding.
Other than the automotive, aerospace and transportation sectors, other areas in which lightweight materials have witnessed growing demand include electronics and medical devices. With computers and mobile phones getting smaller and thinner, lightweight engineered plastics are being increasingly used in designing devices, and these materials are joined together using specialty adhesives. Medical devices, too, have been witnessing a trend towards lightweighting, necessitating the use of specialty adhesives.
Nonwovens Sector Increases Adhesive Adoption
Baby diapers and feminine hygiene products constitute the other major end markets for adhesives, and economic growth in emerging markets has further spurred consumer demand for these products. Utilization of adhesives by the nonwovens industry is set to double over the next half-a-decade, with consumers not only purchasing products, such as baby diapers and feminine napkins, but also coming in for frequent repeat purchases. For instance, market penetration rates for baby diapers in the United States stand at about 98%, while the same for China is about 20% and for India in single digits. Demand for hygiene products in such potential markets is bound to intensify, given that the lower middle income bracket consumers in these regions make a shift towards the upper middle income bracket. Producers of hygiene products are also pressurizing adhesive manufacturers for offering new capabilities, such as more stretchable baby diapers for improving comfort and fit, as well as increasing thinness of the diapers’ centers. These trends, in turn, add to demand for specialty adhesives that are required for holding the material together that includes the diaper’s superabsorbent polymer core. Adhesive producers can take this as an opportunity, since achieving the requirements of diaper producers can be complex if the material is bond stretched in place of using adhesives.
Established markets have been witnessing the influence of demographics in propelling growth for specific hygiene adhesive applications. Aging populations directly translate into enhanced demand for adult incontinence products, which more often than not necessitate complex and advanced materials, in addition to innovative adhesive formulations. With the growing acceptance of adult hygiene products and aging populations, demand for specialty adhesives is also likely to rise.
The Rebound of the Construction Sector
Adhesive manufacturers have been buoyed by resurgence in the housing and construction markets, specifically in the United States. Infrastructure spending has also come as a godsend for the adhesives industry, with governments looking to refurbish existing structures instead of replacing them because of financial limitations. This move aimed at extending the lives of existing structures would have a direct bearing on the adhesives sector, since a vast range of applications necessitate the application of specialty adhesive formulations.
Residential construction permits in the United States have been witnessing steady increases, totaling 946,000 between February 2012 and February 2013. This has further led to similar bolstering effects in other hitherto stagnant economies, such as Japan, where large construction projects that were under wraps for some time have been recommenced. Adhesive makers have also been engaged in extensive R&D activity for designing solutions with a focus on addressing the varied needs of the construction industry, such as in the area of superior performing grouts capable of dealing with multiple materials without staining.