The polyurethane market will be the fastest growing segment of the plastic materials and resins market to 2022, growing at an annual rate of 4.9%. Adoption of polyurethane in home furnishings is driving the polyurethane market. Furniture manufacturing companies are enhancing comfort, durability, health and safety by using flexible polyurethane foam (FPF) as a cushioning material for upholstered furniture, bedding and carpet underlay. Furthermore, with the introduction of advanced manufacturing process, polyurethane form provides more uniform, and predictable and durable end products. For instance, according to the American Chemistry Council, it is proven that FPF when compressed by 90% for 22 hours, could recover more than 90% of its original height, which is highly durable than any other form furniture material. Moreover, completely cured polyurethane products are considered to be inert and safe and was concurred by the U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). The durability, comfort and safety provided by polyurethane continue to be the major reasons for its use in the furniture industry, thereby driving the demand for polyurethane going forward.
Polyurethane is formed by reacting a polyol (an alcohol with more than two reactive hydroxyl groups per molecule) with a diisocyanate or a polymeric isocyanate in the presence of suitable catalysts and additives. Polyurethanes are used in foam seating, foam insulation panels and foam seals and gaskets. Polyurethanes are also widely used in medical devices such as pacemakers, artificial hearts, and other blood contacting applications.
The global plastic materials and resins market, of which the polyurethane market is a segment, is segmented into polypropylene (PP), high-density polyethylene (PE-HD), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyurethane (PUR), polystyrene, and others. The second fastest growing segment of the plastic material and resins market will be the polypropylene market, growing at an annual rate of 4.7% to 2022.
The fastest growth of the polyurethane market in the forecast period can also be attributed to green innovations in the polyurethane industry and fast growth of its end-use industries, such as medical devices manufacturing. Demand for sustainable products from the construction, automotive and footwear industry is leading to increasing demand for the manufacturing of bio-based polyurethane (PU), as awareness in environmental concerns grows worldwide. Bio-based polyurethane (PU) are derived from biodegradable materials constituting a rich source of precursors for the synthesis of polyols and isocynates. These chemicals are readily available at a lower cost with less environmental impacts, and are highly biodegradable. In addition, with increasing commercialization and growing demand for flexible foam for car seats and headrests from major automotive OEMs, polyurethane manufacturers have shifted focus towards developing sustainable and environment friendly products from renewable materials, which will drive the use of bio-based polyurethane products in various industries including construction, automotive, coating and footwear. In 2018, the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) invested in a project, PULaCell, which focused on stronger construction of timber and other solid wood construction materials, with bio-based polyurethane.