LONDON—The world produced 704,000 metric tons of thermoplastic polyurethane in 2020, down about 6 percent because of the coronavirus, according to a new report from IAL Consultants.
The Asia Pacific region accounts for 69 percent of consumption, the report said.
The materials have been enjoying one of the fastest growth rates among polyurethane materials, and the impact of the coronavirus on this sector was less severe than in others. IAL estimates that in 2020 PU production fell by 10.9 percent, because of the coronavirus and high raw material prices.
TPU has grown because it is increasingly substituting for other polymers such as PVC, and its sustainability credentials are helping in a world that increasingly appreciates polymers that can be easily recycled.
Footwear and textiles are mainly focused on Asia where it is used in high quality products for both local consumption and for exports. The demand for TPU is driven by population growth in the region, as well as greater disposable income.
Another market for TPU that is set to grow is 3D printing, as it could allow smaller companies to make parts that are expensive to make conventionally. This information comes from IAL's Global Overview of the Thermoplastic Polyurethanes Market, published in January 2021.