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Outlook 2023: Rubber industry to recover as demand accelerates

Source:International Plastics News for Asia     Date:2022-12-25
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The recovery of the global rubber industry is anticipated after posting decline in 2020 due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Based on the “World Rubber Industry Outlook (WRIO)” report released by the International Rubber Study Group (IRSG) that provides comprehensive data on production, usage, trade and prices of both natural rubber (NR) and synthetic rubber (SR), from the decline in 2020, the strong recovery in advanced economies and emerging markets such as China and India, pushed demand for rubber worldwide by 11% to 29.88 million tonnes in 2021, and this figure exceed the pre-pandemic level. The rebound was attributed to the pent-up demand from both tyre and non-tyre sectors.  The report further states that the slowdown in global economic performance in 2022 due to several factors has adversely affected world rubber consumption. However, despite market challenges total rubber demand is forecast to accelerate to 2.8% in 2023 and expected to grow on an average by 2.4% during 2023-2031 period. But several challenges remain, among them, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, high inflation affecting countries around the world, and tightening of global financial conditions. 

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 Momentive Performance Materials introduced its newly developed 

NEVSil LSR and HCR silicone rubbers.

The automotive industry remains the leading consumer of rubber globally and this is expected to persist in the next few years. With the anticipated increase in the production of electric vehicles, along with the surge in building & construction industry demanding construction materials, the rubber market will remain robust.   The Asia Pacific region has dominated both production and consumption of rubber. China remains a major importer of natural rubber due to the demands in its automotive and construction industries. Other rubber-producing countries in the region such as Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, etc. are benefiting from the rapid urbanisation and increased personal consumption.   


Trends point towards resource-efficient production

Silicone rubber grades are among the innovations at K 2022 and these clearly indicate the trends for high performance materials produced through resource-efficient process. WACKER introduced its ELASTOSIL® eco silicone rubber grades at the exhibition. These grades are manufactured in a resource-efficient, certified process with the aid of methanol derived from plants rather than from fossil materials. Since plant-based methanol and its fossil counterpart are chemically inter-changeable, ELASTOSIL® and ELASTOSIL® eco products possess the same end properties, and the processing techniques involved are also identical.


In the future, WACKER will be offering its customers “eco” versions of eight of its silicone rubber grades – six hardness values of the non-postcure and tear-resistant liquid silicone rubber ELASTOSIL® LR 5040 (ELASTOSIL® eco LR 5040) and one hardness grade each of the peroxide-curing solid silicone rubber ELASTOSIL® R 401 (ELASTOSIL® eco R 401/40) and the addition-curing solid silicone ELASTOSIL® R plus 4020 (ELASTOSIL® eco R plus 4020/40). What is more, SILMIX® ready-to-use rubber blends will also be available on the basis of biomethanol upon request. 

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WACKER offers its “eco” versions of silicone rubber grades


Another company, Momentive Performance Materials introduced its newly developed product family of NEVSil LSR and HCR silicone rubbers, which is geared towards the requirements of modern mobility concepts, i. e. new energy vehicles. The new generation of LTC-LSRs from Momentive, which cure at particularly low temperatures, is especially suitable for thick-walled parts and combinations with temperature-sensitive materials. These new materials are suitable for a wide range of sealing applications in vehicles powered by alternative energies, including e-mobility, hybrid concepts and fuel cell technology. In addition to a generally low compression set, their wide range of grades includes high temperature resistance as well as flame retardancy, self-lubricating, low viscosity, low stiffness, fast curing, increased crack and ageing resistance, good colourability, and thermal conductivity.


The flame retardant NEVSil FR LSR and HCR grades with Shore A hardnesses ranging from 35 to 70 meet the requirements according to UL94 V-0 for 1mm thickness with balanced mechanical properties and very good heat resistance. Typical applications include connectors and heat ageing resistant moulded components such as gaskets, O-rings, etc. Included in the NEVSIL FR portfolio are two NEVSIL SLFR grades, offering both UL94 V-0 flame retardant properties (1mm) coupled with self-lubricating functionality. Both grades are peroxide cured HCR grades offering balanced physical properties in addition to high heat and temperature resistant characteristics.  

- This article also appears in the International Plastics News for Asia - December issue. To read the e-zine, click here.


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