Engineering Plastics: Characteristics, Types, and
Engineering plastics are a group of plastic materials that
possess superior mechanical, thermal, and chemical properties compared to
standard commodity plastics. These materials are used in various industries,
including automotive, aerospace, medical, electrical, and electronic, due to
their excellent performance and durability. In this essay, we will discuss the
characteristics, types, and applications of engineering plastics.
Engineering plastics possess several characteristics that
make them suitable for a wide range of industrial applications. Some of these
- High Strength and Stiffness: Engineering plastics have high
strength and stiffness, making them ideal for applications that require high
load-bearing capacity and structural integrity.
- Heat Resistance: These materials have high heat resistance,
allowing them to maintain their mechanical properties at elevated temperatures.
They can also withstand exposure to chemicals and other harsh environments.
- Lightweight: Compared to metals, engineering plastics are
lightweight, making them suitable for weight-sensitive applications, such as
aerospace and automotive industries.
- Electrical and Thermal Insulation: Engineering plastics have
excellent electrical and thermal insulation properties, making them ideal for
electrical and electronic applications.
Types of Engineering
There are several types of engineering plastics, each with
unique properties and characteristics. Some of the most commonly used
engineering plastics are:
- Acetal: Acetal is a high-strength, stiff, and low-friction
engineering plastic. It is commonly used in applications that require
dimensional stability, such as gears, bearings, and pump components.
- Nylon: Nylon is a high-strength, flexible, and
abrasion-resistant plastic. It is commonly used in applications that require
durability and toughness, such as automotive parts, electrical connectors, and
- Polycarbonate: Polycarbonate is a transparent, high-impact,
and heat-resistant plastic. It is commonly used in applications that require
high transparency and impact resistance, such as safety glasses, lenses, and
- Polyurethane: Polyurethane is a flexible,
abrasion-resistant, and impact-resistant plastic. It is commonly used in
applications that require cushioning, such as automotive suspension systems,
footwear, and medical equipment.
Applications of Engineering Plastics:
Engineering plastics are used in a wide range of industrial
applications. Some of the most common applications of engineering plastics are:
- Automotive Industry: Engineering plastics are used in
automotive applications, such as engine components, interior and exterior
parts, and electrical connectors, due to their high strength, durability, and
- Aerospace Industry: Engineering plastics are used in
aerospace applications, such as structural components, interiors, and
electrical connectors, due to their lightweight and high strength-to-weight
- Electrical and Electronic Industry: Engineering plastics are
used in electrical and electronic applications, such as switches, connectors,
and circuit boards, due to their excellent electrical and thermal insulation
- Medical Industry: Engineering plastics are used in medical
applications, such as implants, surgical instruments, and diagnostic equipment,
due to their biocompatibility, durability, and flexibility.
Engineering plastics Market Dynamics
Engineering Plastics Market
The market dynamics of engineering plastics are
characterized by both drivers and restraints. One of the major drivers for the
growth of this market is the increasing demand from end-use industries such as
automotive & transportation and electrical & electronics. These
industries heavily rely on engineering plastics, and are expected to continue
driving the market in the coming years.
In the electrical & electronics industry, the demand for
engineering plastics is particularly high due to the surge in sales of consumer
appliances like televisions, refrigerators, and iron boxes. These plastics play
a crucial role in the manufacturing of such appliances.
Engineering Plastics Market
However, the market for engineering plastics is not without
its restraints. One of the key restraints is the growing competition from other
polymers, especially in the lower-end engineering resins segment. For instance,
commodity polymers like polypropylene are increasingly posing a challenge to
ABS, which is an engineering plastic. Polypropylene offers superior performance
when copolymerized with ethylene and is more cost-competitive in markets such
as consumer products and appliances. This competition from other polymers is
expected to intensify in the future.
Engineering Plastics Market
The market for engineering plastics is financially
attractive due to the growing demand for these materials and their emerging
applications. Many players are active in this market, including both global and
local companies, leading to increased competition and market fragmentation. The
automotive industry generates the highest revenue in this market, followed by
electrical & electronics and consumer products. The segment is expected to
grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.7%, with packaging projected
to grow at the highest CAGR of 7.9%. Engineering plastics are becoming more
popular in the automotive industry due to their lightweight properties, which
improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.
Engineering Plastics Market
However, the use of plastics is also a significant challenge
due to its environmental impact. Many environmental NGOs criticize the use of
plastics for their harmful effects on the environment, particularly in the
automotive and packaging industries, where they contribute to solid waste
disposal problems and economic recycling issues. Therefore, these industries
are taking a cautious approach to further integration of engineering plastics
in their products.
The Engineering Plastics Market Ecosystem
During the forecast period, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene
(ABS) accounted for the largest share of the engineering plastics market. ABS
is a major type of engineering plastics due to increasing demand from the
automotive and transportation industries. The other types of engineering
plastics include polyamide, polycarbonate, thermoplastic polyesters (PET &
PBT), polyacetal, and fluoropolymer.
Engineering plastics are used extensively in various end-use
industries, such as automotive and transportation, electrical and electronics,
industrial and machinery, packaging, consumer appliances, and others.
Industrial and machinery is the fastest-growing segment due to the superior
properties of engineering plastics.
Asia-Pacific accounted for the largest share of the
engineering plastics market due to the increased consumption of engineering
plastics in various industries, including automotive, packaging, building, and
construction, in rapidly growing countries such as China, India, and Japan.
China is the largest producer and consumer of engineering plastics in the
region. The aerospace industry in China is projected to return to profitability
in 2022, and the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has estimated
the aviation sector to recover domestic traffic to around 85% of pre-pandemic
levels. According to the Boeing Commercial Outlook 2021-2040, China is expected
to make around 9,000 new deliveries by 2040, with a market service value of USD
In South Korea, the electric vehicle industry is expected to
grow rapidly, with nearly 71,000 units of electric vehicles sold in 2021. South
Korean sales of electric vehicles surged by 96% to 71,006 units in the first
nine months of 2021, according to data collected by the Korea Automotive
Technology Institute (KAII). The sales figure is expected to increase with
growing demand from importing economies in Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the
Engineering plastics have a wide range of applications in
the automotive industry, including interior and exterior furnishings, power
trains, chassis, electrical components, and under-the-hood parts. These
plastics are used to make dashboard, bumpers, seats, body panels, fuel systems,
interior trim, under-bonnet components, lighting, exterior trim, liquid
reservoirs, and upholstery.
In recent years, automobile manufacturers have been
incorporating more advanced plastic materials in their designs to reduce weight
and increase fuel efficiency. Studies have shown that every 10% reduction in
vehicle weight can reduce fuel usage by 7%. As a result, the growth in
automobile production has a direct impact on the growth of the engineering
According to the OCIA, the global production capacity of Light
Commercial Vehicles is expected to increase from 12 million units in 2022 to 14
million units in 2023. The production of Light Commercial Vehicles is expected
to increase by 14% during the forecast period, which is likely to further
increase the market for engineering plastics.
China is the largest manufacturer of automobiles in the
world, and the country's automobile industry is experiencing a shift towards
battery-operated vehicles due to consumer preference. Additionally, the Chinese
government estimates a 22% penetration rate of electric vehicle production.
This trend is likely to further drive the demand for engineering plastics in
the automotive industry.
In the past, the automotive industry generated the most
revenue in the engineering plastics market, followed by electrical &
electronics and consumer products. This segment is expected to continue growing
at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9%. However, packaging is
anticipated to have the highest CAGR of 10.5%. The use of engineered polymer composites
and plastics in a wide range of applications has led to the automotive
industry's maximum revenue generation. Engineering plastics are the second most
commonly used class of materials in the automotive industry after ferrous
metals and alloys. Due to the increased focus on decreasing the weight of
vehicles, improving fuel efficiency, and reducing emissions, engineering
plastics are replacing several other materials in the industry.
In recent years, the engineering plastics market has seen
several notable developments. One such development is the increasing demand for
sustainable and eco-friendly engineering plastics. With the growing concern for
the environment, manufacturers are shifting towards bio-based plastics and
recycled plastics to reduce their carbon footprint. This trend is expected to
continue in the future.
Another significant development in the engineering plastics
market is the growing popularity of 3D printing technology. The use of 3D
printing technology in the manufacturing of engineering plastics has opened up
new possibilities for customization, design, and prototyping. The development
of new 3D printing technologies and materials is likely to further enhance the
growth of the engineering plastics market.
Moreover, the demand for high-performance engineering
plastics has also increased in recent years. These plastics offer superior
mechanical, thermal, and electrical properties and are used in demanding
applications such as aerospace, medical devices, and electronics. The demand for
high-performance engineering plastics is likely to continue to grow due to
their increasing adoption in various end-use industries.
Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly
impacted the engineering plastics market. The pandemic has disrupted supply
chains, leading to supply shortages and price volatility. However, the market
has shown resilience and has adapted to the changing circumstances. The
pandemic has also led to a growing focus on the production of essential medical
equipment and devices, which has increased the demand for engineering plastics
in the healthcare sector.
Dominating Companies in Engineering Plastics Market
- 3M COMPANY
- ADVANSIX, INC.
- ARKEMA SA
- ASAHI KASEI CORPORATION
- ASHLAND GLOBAL HOLDINGS, INC.
- BASF SE
- CELANESE CORPORATION
- CHEVRON PHILLIPS CHEMICAL COMPANY, LLC
- CHI MEI CORPORATION
- COVESTRO AG
- DAICEL CORPORATION
- DSM ENGINEERING MATERIALS INC.
- EASTMAN CHEMICAL COMPANY
- EVONIK INDUSTRIES AG
- GRAND PACIFIC PETROCHEMICAL CORPORATION
- LANXESS AG
- LG CHEM LTD.
- MITSUBISHI CHEMICAL HOLDINGS CORPORATION
- NOVA CHEMICALS CORPORATION
- POLYPLASTICS CO., LTD
- RÖCHLING SE & CO. KG
- SOLVAY S.A.
- THE DOW CHEMICAL COMPANY
- TRINSEO PLC
Recent Developments in Engineering Plastics Market
In 2021, Celanese Corporation, a global chemical and
specialty materials company, announced the acquisition of a 45% stake in
Chinese engineering plastics company, Nouryon. This acquisition was aimed at
expanding Celanese's footprint in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific market for
Also in 2021, Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation and PMMA
manufacturer, Lucite International, announced a merger to form a new company,
MC Polymeric Resources Ltd. The merger aimed to combine the strengths of both
companies in the field of engineering plastics, with Lucite's expertise in PMMA
and Mitsubishi Chemical's knowledge of other engineering plastics.
In 2019, Solvay, a Belgian chemical company, acquired the
engineering plastics business of Cytec Industries, a US-based specialty
chemicals and materials company. This acquisition was aimed at expanding
Solvay's portfolio of high-performance materials and enhancing its capabilities
in the aerospace and automotive industries.
In the same year, Covestro, a German polymer company, formed
a strategic partnership with Chinese company, Tongji University, to develop and
promote sustainable solutions for engineering plastics. The partnership aimed
to leverage Tongji University's research capabilities in sustainable
technologies and Covestro's expertise in developing high-performance materials.
In 2018, Arkema, a French specialty chemicals company,
completed the acquisition of the American company, ArrMaz, a producer of
specialty surfactants and additives for the fertilizer, mining, and asphalt
markets. This acquisition aimed to expand Arkema's position in the specialty
chemicals market, including the production of specialty engineering plastics.
In 2020, global specialty chemicals company, Clariant,
announced that it would sell its Pigments business to US-based company, Huntsman
Corporation, for $1.6 billion. The Pigments business included a range of
products used in the production of engineering plastics.
In 2020, chemical company, LyondellBasell, completed its
acquisition of French plastics and chemicals company, A. Schulman, for $2.25
billion. A. Schulman's portfolio included a range of specialty engineering
plastics, as well as masterbatch and additives products.
In 2019, chemical company, BASF, announced the acquisition
of Solvay's polyamide business, including its engineering plastics portfolio.
The acquisition was aimed at expanding BASF's product range in high-performance
materials and enhancing its position in the automotive and electronics
Also in 2019, US-based company, Celanese, acquired Indian
engineering plastics company, Next Polymers Ltd., for an undisclosed amount.
The acquisition was aimed at expanding Celanese's portfolio of specialty
engineering plastics and strengthening its presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
In 2018, Evonik Industries, a German specialty chemicals
company, completed the acquisition of US-based company, J.M. Huber
Corporation's silica business. The acquisition included Huber's portfolio of
specialty engineering plastics additives, which are used to enhance the
performance of thermoplastic polymers.
In conclusion, engineering plastics are a group of plastic
materials that possess excellent mechanical, thermal, and chemical properties.
They are used in a wide range of industrial applications, including automotive,
aerospace, medical, and electrical and electronic, due to their high
performance and durability. Understanding the characteristics, types, and
applications of engineering plastics is essential for selecting the appropriate
material for a specific application.