Growth rates for silicones in the U.S. medical industry have bounced around in the last 15 years, but Furst said demand remained strong throughout. Contrary to every other major market, silicones serving the medical industry scarcely were affected by the recession because medical product shipments remained consistent throughout the downturn. Re-approval of silicone breast implants in 2005 also helped boost demand.
He said growth is projected to outpace medical products overall and continue to take share from rubber and plastic materials. These factors should lead to medical being the fastest growing silicone market in the next five years.
“Silicones have numerous benefits in medical applications, including biocompatibility, optical clarity, soft touch, moldability and ease of sterilization,” he said.
Construction also will be one of the fastest growing industries because of the rebound from the great recession. Furst said the industry nosedived in two phases during the recession—the first in the residential sector after the housing bubble collapsed, beginning in 2005. New residential building didn't recover until 2012. The second phase, non-residential building, didn't begin to delince until after the recession hit in 2008 and continued through 2013.
For silicones, Furst said demand is split relatively evenly between new construction and improvement/repair as well as residential vs. non-residential in terms of intensity of use.
“Since the construction industry has just started to recover, growth will be strong through 2020 with the fastest gains in the new housing segment, which is still at very low levels,” Furst said. “However, even by 2025 most segments of the construction industry will remain below their peak 2005 levels.”
He said the personal care industry saw steady growth over the last 15 years, aside from a slight decline in 2009. Furst said the market benefited from a move toward higher value silicones as a replacement for D4 and D5 in personal care products as well as trends toward multi-functional ingredients.
However, he said going forward silicones in personal care products will rise at a below average pace compared to silicones overall mostly because of slow growth in U.S. toiletry and cosmetic shipments, expected to rise only about 1 percent per year.