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VAE, Acrylics to Pace North American Synthetic Latex Polymer Growth

Published on 2004-11-03. Author : SpecialChem

LITTLE FALLS, NJ -- Spurred by rising demand for three emerging polymer types, North American consumption of synthetic latex polymers will top the seven-billion-pound level in five years, according to a market study soon to be published by Kline & Company. SYNTHETIC LATEX POLYMERS MARKET ANALYSIS, Volume III: North America 2004 predicts that the market for SLPs will increase by more than 3% annually, reaching a value of almost $6 billion by 2008.

The fastest-growing SLP type identified in Kline's study is vinyl acetate-ethylene copolymers. VAE use in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico is projected to increase at an average annual rate of nearly 4% between 2003 and 2008 in terms of volume.

The primary market for VAE latexes is adhesives, where they exhibit a wide range of formulating latitude and provide excellent flexibility and adhesion to a variety of substrates at low temperatures. Other applications include nonwovens, caulks and sealants, cement additives, and carpet. Paints and coatings currently represent a relatively small application area, but VAE latexes are beginning to make inroads there as well.

Because producing VAE polymers requires elevated pressures of 1,000 to 2,000 psi, however, the number of North American producers is limited. They are only offered in significant commercial volumes in North America by Air Products, which pioneered their use, and by National Starch. Smaller quantities are produced by Forbo Adhesives, which acquired Reichhold's manufacturing site in 2003.

"It's somewhat of an anomaly that the two largest North American latex polymer producers-Rohm and Haas and Dow-don't have the capability to produce the fastest-growing latex polymer type in North America," says Gillian Morris, industry manager for Kline's Chemicals and Materials Practice. "There's considerable speculation in the industry about what the future may bring."

Rohm and Haas holds the top position in two other emerging SLP types--styrene-acrylics and all-acrylics--and Dow is also a key player in these materials.

Styrene-acrylic polymer use is projected by Kline to expand at an average annual rate of 3.8% from 2003 and 2008. More than two-thirds of styrene-acrylic latex consumption goes toward three applications--polishes and waxes, graphic arts, and paints and coatings.

All-acrylics are the second-largest latex produced in North America in terms of volume and the leader in terms of dollar value. Kline forecasts all-acrylics use to increase by 3.2% per year. This makes them the third-fastest-growing latex covered in the study.

More than 45% of North American all-acrylic latex consumption goes into paints and coatings, with another 22% consumed in adhesives, mostly of the pressure-sensitive type.

"In paints and coatings, the term 'acrylic' has come to mean ‘'quality' in the public mind, and all-acrylic latexes are not only solidly entrenched, they're expected to grow faster than the paint and coatings industry itself," says Morris.

SYNTHETIC LATEX POLYMERS MARKET ANALYSIS, Volume III: North America 2004 is part of Kline's comprehensive series of market analyses on the leading markets for latexes and emulsions. Each regional market volume examines current and forecast demand by major product and end-use industry, including information on grades, prices, applications, captive production/consumption, major customers, distribution channels, supplier sales, and technical and market trends.

A companion series of regional manufacturing cost analyses provides detailed technology and production cost structure assessments for four major latex polymer categories.

Established in 1959, Kline & Company, Inc. is an international business consulting and market research firm that offers a broad range of services to the chemicals and polymers, petroleum and energy, and consumer products industries.

Source: Kline & Company, Inc.

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