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10-04-2016

Inherently Conductive Polymers Growing Fast

The global electroactive polymer market is growing rapidly, led by the fast-moving inherently conductive polymers (ICPs) segment. BCC Research reveals in its new report that this emerging market has great commercial potential, with a double-digit growth rate expected in the near term.

Electroactive polymers mainly comprise ICPs, inherently dissipative polymers (IDPs) and conductive plastics. Inherently conductive polymers are polymers with conjugated electron backbones that display unusual electronic properties such as low energy optical transitions, low ionization potentials and high electron affinities.

The global market for electroactive polymers is projected to reach 725.8 million pounds by 2021, up from 484.9 million pounds in 2016, reflecting a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.4%. Conductive plastics, which currently dominate the market, should grow from 474.2 million pounds in 2016 to 700.4 million pounds by 2021 on a five-year CAGR of 8.1%. Inherently conductive polymers, the fastest growing market segment with a projected five-year CAGR of 18.9%, should reach 10.7 million pounds and 25.4 million pounds in 2016 and 2021, respectively.

Inherently conductive polymers possess a wide variety of potential applications that include electrostatic dissipation (ESD) control, light emitting displays, capacitors, electrostatic paintable plastics, antistatic packaging, and corrosion-resistant paints/coatings. Although considered an emerging market, ICPs have begun to penetrate the traditional conductive plastics market in electrostatic coatings, mostly as electrostatic packaging (also the major outlet for conductive plastics). The more esoteric markets of ICPs include rechargeable batteries, smart windows, and electronic membranes. Capacitors are currently the largest ICP application, followed by ESD, solar cells, sensors, OLEDs, textiles, corrosion protection, organic transistors and batteries. In addition to various technological issues, the high prices of ICPs have been a major deterrent to their more extensive commercial development. Nevertheless, the market continues to grow and evolve, which bodes for an impressive CAGR in the short term.

The continuing proliferation of sensitive electronic devices and the growing need to protect them, along with new technologies, have generated a great deal of research and development activity around ICPs. Concomitant funding and a significant number of technical and corporate alliances are bolstering R&D, as well.

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