London - A report by IAL Consultants notes that thermoplastic polyurethanes account for less than 5% of the total global production of polyurethane products, but over the past few years they have experienced one of the fastest growth rates in the industry due to their high versatility.
The report, entitled 'A Global Overview of the Thermoplastic Polyurethane Market', looks at global TPU production and consumption by region, as well as consumption by end-use.
In 2012, footwear was the largest end-use segment for TPU, some 38% of the market at 133 015 tonnes, followed by engineering products (28%), some 111 730 tonnes. Trailing behind was automotive, which comprises 11% of the total market.
IAL noted that although the market was hit by the economic crisis in 2008/2009, 2012 was a year of stabilisation, with the overall demand being driven by the partial recovery of industries like the automotive sector.
The reports adds that although the TPU market is relatively mature in the Western hemisphere, strong growth prospects still remain in the East, where the Asian region leads world TPU production with 249 250 tonnes produced in 2012. This accounts for 58% of world production of 428 360 tonnes.
IAL said that China is the world's leading producer and consumer of the TPU. The report notes that TPU producers are emerging in Turkey for the first time, though demand for TPU remains limited in the Middle East and Africa.