Silicones are irreplaceable in many industrial sectors. Silicone elastomers, oils and resins are the most important product types that are manufactured based on quartz sand. They are used in construction, automotive and the electrical and electronics industries, as well as in medical technology, cosmetics, textiles, and paper or in innumerable common items. Growth of this market is astonishing; according to a recent study from Ceresana, worldwide revenues generated with silicones rose by 6.7% per year since 2005. In 2013, silicones valuing about $15.5 billion were sold. Silicone sales are reportedly expected to increase by another 5% in the next years.
A decisive advantage for manufacturers of silicone is the variety of sales markets for silicone products. Demand is distributed evenly among several large sectors. The most important growth motors are the construction and the electrical and electronics sectors. In the construction industry, silicones are mainly used as sealants and adhesives, and in coatings. The continuous boom of the construction sector in China and the recovery of the U.S. construction sector are likely to result in an increase of global market value in the construction industry by 5.4% per year in the upcoming years. Similarly high growth rates are expected for the electrical and electronics sector—the application reporting the highest revenues. In this segment, silicones are already used in keyboards, computers, telephones and several other products, and application possibilities keep increasing. A new and strong growth market is lenses for LED lights made from silicone rubber.
Asia-Pacific Increasing World Market Share
The Asia-Pacific region accounted for more than half of global silicones production in 2013. China is the largest consumer of silicones worldwide. The gap to the second and third largest sales markets, Western Europe and the U.S., respectively, is likely to widen in the future. However, China is still producing and using a larger amount of rather cheap products than of high-end specialty silicones. Thus, relative revenues (compared to consumption) in industrialized countries are much higher.
Elastomers and Silicone Oils
Especially because of its large electrical and electronics industry, Asia-Pacific consumes a disproportionately large amount of silicone elastomers. Net import in Asian countries will fall in the future, since China in particular massively expanded production capacity in previous years. Market values of elastomers in Western Europe and North America are almost as high as market values of silicone oils. Thus far, the market for silicone resins has been accounting for a much smaller market share in all regions, but is likely to develop at sound growth rates.
For more information, visit www.ceresana.com/en.