Adhesives and sealants are substances that are applied to bond two surfaces. Adhesives can be defined as non-metallic binders that act through adhesion and cohesion. Adhesive bonding includes glues, epoxies and other plastic agents that bond via a solvent’s evaporation or curing of a bonding agent with heat, pressure, or time. Sealants differ from adhesives in that they generally have lower strength and higher elongation. Sealants usually have a paste consistency that allows filling of gaps between substrates. They fall in between higher-strength adhesives and lower-strength putties and caulks.
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Adhesives and sealants are increasingly being preferred over the traditional thermal (e.g. welding) and mechanical (e.g. riveting) joining techniques owing to benefits like better product durability and reliability, increased quality and performance, design flexibility, better aesthetics, higher process productivity and lesser manufacturing costs. Their main applications include panel lamenting, facades, insulation, flooring, coating, lamination, etc.
Growing demand for end-use industries like construction, automotive, etc. in developing markets of China, India and Brazil is expected to fuel growth of adhesives and sealants market in the coming years. Developing technology and widespread applications are also proving to be favorable factors.
Volatility in raw material pricing and supply directly impacts the market for adhesives and sealants. Price increases in petrochemical and energy sectors results in higher production costs, consequently reducing profit margins of adhesive formulators. Imposition of environmental regulations is another growth inhibitor. In response, industry participants are venturing into development of bio-based products like soybean derived polyols and vegetable oil based polyamides, epoxies and polyisoprenes. These are not only environmentally sustainable but also cost-effective. Players like Du Pont, Cargill, BASF, Croda, Evonik Industries and ADCO are actively involved in developing and manufacturing bio-based adhesives and sealants.
Based on technology the total global adhesives and sealants market is divided into water-based, solvent-based, hot melt, reactive, and others. The biggest advantage of water-based adhesives is lack of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emissions, making them environment-friendly. They are therefore preferred under the newer stricter environmental directives. In fact, they may totally replace solvent-based adhesives and become the fastest growing technology segment in future. Reactive adhesives find great use in electronic applications owing to factors like enduring bonding strength and high temperature resistance. Holt melt adhesives are used in packaging, labeling, book binding, textiles, etc. This segment is increasingly attracting demand from both, developing and developed regions.
Key adhesive product segments are acrylic, polyvinyl acetate (PVA), polyurethane, styrenic block, epoxy and ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), etc. Main sealant product segments are silicones, polyurethane, acrylic, PVA, among others. Acrylic emerged as the segment leader in adhesives in 2012. It is also likely to account for fastest growth in future. Polyurethane is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 6% from 2014 to 2020. In sealants, silicones with more than 30% of total volumes, was the leading segment in 2012. This segment will also grow the fastest in future.
Key application areas of adhesives include furniture, footwear, construction, automotive, packaging and pressure sensitive applications, while those of sealants are automotive, construction, assembly, packaging, pressure sensitive tapes, etc. In case of adhesives, pressure sensitive segment, with more than 28% of total volumes, was the largest application area in 2012 and furniture is forecasted to grow the fastest in future. For sealants, construction accounted for the largest market share i.e. more than 27% in 2012, with the automotive segment expected to witness the fastest growth by 2020.
Asia Pacific was the key regional market for adhesives and sealants in 2012. It is also expected to be the largest and the fastest growing market in future due to escalating growth in automotive, construction and packaging industries in China and India. On the other hand, the mature European and North American markets will witness listless growth.
Innovation, forward integration and product differentiation are some of the competitive strategies employed by players in the global adhesives and sealants market. The market is concentrated, with a few leading operators accounting for considerable share. Top manufacturers include Henkel AG, 3M Company, Dow Chemical Company and HB Fuller.
Information Source: Grand View Research