Polyurethane (PU) is manufactured by reacting di-isocynate with a polyol in the presence of a catalyst and additives. Various blowing agents are used in the process of polyurethane manufacturing to open up cells resulting in production of lightweight polyurethane foams. To stabilize the process surfactants are used to retain the shape of the polyurethane foam. Polyurethane foams are treated with colour paste, pigments and dispersions to make colored polyurethane (PU) foams. Such polyurethane foams are resilient, comfortable, flexible, lightweight, fatigue resistance, durability, offer design freedom and aesthetics. All variants of polyurethane foams are chemically stable, versatile, offer more thermal resistance in insulations, better moisture resistance, long life, accurate, high-performance insulation, and making it the most suitable in the refrigeration segment.
The colored polyurethane foams are classified into flexible and rigid; based on based on cell structure. Almost all flexible coloured polyurethane foams have open cell structures and are used as polyurethane foams. Coloured polyurethane foams account for a larger share in the European market because they offer support, comfort, resilience and aesthetics. These are used in upholstery furniture, bedding, packaging and automotive accessories. Rigid coloured polyurethane foams are closed cells polyurethane foams which offer energy efficiency, high performance, versatility and thermal resistance properties. Rigid coloured PU foams are used in construction, electronics appliances, as insulating material in wall insulation, floor insulation, refrigerators and chillers. Flexible polyurethane foams are used in providing thermal insulation, easy carpet maintenance, and are recyclable. It was observed that there is an increasing demand for luxury furniture, bedding, and pillow top mattresses which will drive the market for flexible coloured polyurethane foams market in Europe.
According to the study “Europe Colored Polyurethane (PU) Foams Industry Situation and Prospects Research Report”, various coloured polyurethane foams are used in numerous industries such as furniture, interiors, construction, electronic appliances, automotive, footwear, packaging, sports and leisure apparel among others. Furniture and interiors account for a largest market share followed by construction industry in Europe’s coloured polyurethane foams market. There is an increasing demand for coloured polyurethane foams in electronics appliances and automobile market which is expected to continue increasing over the next few years. European automobile industry uses coloured polyurethane foams for cushion seats, head rests and cushioned panels.
The leading players in coloured polyurethane foams market in Europe are Rogers Corporation, Recticel S.A., Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corporation, Huntsman Corporation, The Dow Chemical Company, BASF SE, Stepan Company, Bayer Material Science AG, Carpenter Company and INOAC Corporation. It was observed that there are numerous large and small vendors in Europe’s polyurethane coloured foams market which makes it extremely competitive. Vendors in the coloured polyurethane foams market are investing massively in R&D to promote bio-based polyurethane foams. Geographically, the coloured polyurethane foams market in Europe is spread across Germany, Russia, UK, France, Italy and other regions.
With the introduction of bio-based coloured polyurethane foams, it is expected to open opportunities for a steady growth. Bio-based polyurethane coloured foams are gaining popularity in Europe and are preferred over fiberglass and stone wool for insulation purposes. The increasing consumption of bio-based polyurethane coloured foams is due to urbanization coupled with industrialization and the requirement for energy-efficient buildings or green buildings will drive the market for coloured bio-based PU foams in Europe over the next few years. However, stringent environmental regulations and volatility in the raw material prices are likely to hinder growth in coloured polyurethane foams market in Europe.
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Ankur Gupta, Head Marketing & Communications