Pardos Marketing : Industrial market research consultancy specializing in plastics and applications
Home Navigation Presentation Navigation Studies Navigation Papers



The Art of Plastics Design
Conference 18th -19th October 2005, Berlin, Germany


Plain plastics versus special effects, beautiful, functional

Actually, when trying to assess the plastics that remain plain, and those that require more or less sophisticated enhancement, the easiest is to estimate the volume of these plastics that are used plain, as such.

From any detailed list of applications, it is possible to evaluate, very roughly, those applications that do not require any finishing and that can be used as such. This analysis is too long for this paper, and everyone can make the estimates that are of more direct interest. Suffice it to say that most of the hidden applications, like foam inside, cushioning, various inside layers and so on, do not require any special effects. The plainest of films, those for standard wrap, for refuse bags, for heavy duty sacks, a majority tonnage of the films, hardly require any finishing. The same can be said about most of the pipes, particularly those that are buried.  This is also the case for most electrical and telecom wire and cable insulation.

All this is not quite true in electrical parts, even hidden. For instance, the electricians, the workers that install the equipment, are quite conscious of the colors, just for look, and insist upon this aspect. Of course, color has always been important technically to distinguish the functions of various parts.

All in all, the total of plain plastics may amount to 30-40 % of the total world plastics tonnage, not more.

Overview of the more elaborate applications

In all major end-uses and applications of all plastics worldwide, in packaging, building, electrical industry, automotive, and all the consumer goods, requirements are to change the appearance of the plastics surface, to enhance the surface effects, the colors, the pearl luster, the touch, the specific required properties, as well as to provide different functional performances.

Among the end-using industries, the active applications, the new and most likely to require special design effects, can be identified, for instance:

In packaging, the fastest growing applications:
  • PET bottles with barriers
  • BOPP films
  • All barriers, with nano composites

Trends in barrier packaging resins include more complex multilayer structures with precisely engineered combinations of strength and gas permeability, as well as selectively permeable structures that allow in some gases but not others. An effort is underway to increase the barrier properties of PET so that it is suitable for long-term storage of beer.

The main trends in packaging are:

  • More plastics packaging, glass, paper, metal, down
  • Shift to flexible packaging, lighter packages
  • Search for single materials
  • More functional packaging, smart labels

Flexible packaging is the huge and fastest growing market, particularly for applications in food, beverage, consumer, healthcare, and industrial products.

Another driver for the packaging demand growth is the increasing use of PET resins instead of PVC and PP because the latter two are more expensive. With PP and PVC prices expected to continue to rise, many more packaging producers could switch to PET resins, not only for bottles but for wide-mouthed PET jars.

In building construction, there are:
  • Huge demand in emerging countries
  • Building and public works multiplied by 5, in China, India, Latin America.
  • 180 000 km of new roads in China to 2020, for instance.

The main trends in building construction are:

  • Polyolefins replacing PVC in pipes
  • Growth of windows, not only PVC
  • Applications for wood and fiber composites
  • Geomembranes and public works
  • Increasing uses for waste of mixed plastics
In the electrical and telectronics industries, E/E

Half the world requires electrical networks   
Demand for household first equipment everywhere
Major developments in telectronics, replacement and new, office, telephones, audio-visual, VDUs
More competition between plastics, PP and engineering plastics win

In automobile and other vehicle industries

The growing car industry, just for private cars, that was 53 millions in 2003 will be 100 millions in 2020, many with new energy.

More vehicles will be produced in the next 20 years than were manufactured in the previous 110-year history of the automotive industry. The past, present and future success of the private car is deeply linked to individualism. The love affair with automobiles is really a love affair with individual mobility. Why deny this deep motivation to emerging countries people, on the false ground that the rich have already polluted the planet?

The use of plastics per car will rise from 100 kg now, to 200 kg + in 2020, and cars will be lighter.

The fastest growing applications in cars are:

  • Complete plastics inroads into gas tanks
  • Complete plastics inroads under the hood
  • Lights and glazing of plastics instead of glass
  • Car bodies of plastics and new designs, still very small, with largest potential

There are many new ways for plastics in cars, like:

  • Self-repairing bumpers
  • New classes of smart plastics
  • Coatings and films
  • Paint-like finishes
In agriculture, there will be:
  • Growth of more sophisticated techniques
  • Fastest developments in films for greenhouses, tunnels, mulching, ensilage
  • Both plain films and very functional films
  • Irrigation and drip irrigation, and ways to make deserts blow
  • The major growth is to be in warmer countries, with at least 10-12 % annual growth


back to the top of the page