Market research projections in 2014 were positive about the prospects for the global adhesives and sealants market, predicting a steady average growth rate of around 4.4 per cent. The latest figures indicate that this was actually an underestimate, with the predicted average growth rate now upgraded to 5.11 per cent until 2021.
The report from MarketsandMarkets explains that this growth is riding mainly on continuing expansion in the paper and packaging industry and in building and construction, especially in India, China and Japan. A growth in packaging is in turn based on continuing demand for consumer goods, with the building boom underwritten by expanding populations in most parts of the world.
Although the Asia Pacific region continues to grow fastest, the European market is the second largest and there is a strong focus on developing new, better and more environmentally-friendly chemicals.
Manufacturers have particularly been seeking new and higher-performance solutions to bond dissimilar or particularly problematic materials, such as metal bonding adhesive, and to reduce their dependence on volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
One such product is CT1, available from sites such as http://www.ct1ltd.com/. This is an environmentally-compliant, odourless adhesive and sealant that is free of solvents and isocyanates. It conforms to ISEGA standards as food safe, is resistant to chemical attacks, and prevents fungal growth.
This is an example of a new generation of universal adhesive solutions that will bond many different substrates, including different metals (even lead), metal to silicates, glass, wood, polystyrene, carbon fibre materials, and fiberglass. Modern adhesives of this type are flexible, withstand vibration and exposure to UV light or sea water, and most can be overpainted.
A warning in the report was that stringent European regulations insisting on eco-friendly products could dampen market growth if research is not sufficiently successful in reducing VOCs and other potential hazards; however, success in developing low-cost adhesives based on different, faster, cleaner chemistry, such as the CT1 example, can be expected to fuel additional growth.
Asia Pacific countries such as China and India have poor controls for their consumption of high VOC adhesives and sealants and have experienced little incentive to develop better ones; however, once these are available as a result of western research, huge export opportunities are likely to follow as Asia strives to clean up its act.