Automotive foams are polymer foams manufactured by combining two phases, gas phase and solid phase to develop foams. This process results in development of foam incorporated with either air bubbles or air tunnels which are either closed cell structure or open cell structure. Foams with open cells are flexible while foams with closed cells are rigid. Chemical or physical gas is used as a blowing agent in the manufacturing of automotive foams. All the polymer foams are produced using various methods such as extrusion, slab-stock and moulding. Polymer foams are used in automotive industry, packaging industry, construction, furniture and other industries. The major factors driving the automotive foams market in North America are low density foam products, light weight and cost effectiveness. Automotive foams are used as optimal insulators with low heat transfer properties, flexibility and softness in automotive foams provide extra comfort to the passengers, growing consumer preference for polymer foams in vehicles and manufacturer’s approval towards automotive foam products in commercial vehicle are the other factors driving the demand for automotive foams.
According to the study “North America Automotive Foam Industry Situation and Prospects Research Report”, North America is the leading consumer of automotive foams across the world due to the rapid growth in the manufacture of heavy commercial vehicle and passenger cars within the automotive industry. An automobile per household has become a necessity and status symbol in the society due to modernization which is driving the automobile market coupled with automotive foam market. Majority of the polyurethane foams are used for seats in the automobiles due to their excellent features such as ease of installation, minimal weight, fire resistance, thermal resistance, and low cost.
North America automotive foams market is segmented based on types such as polyurethane, polyolefin, styrenic, polyvinyl chloride, phenolic, melamine, starch foams, biodegradable foams and others. Automotive foams are utilized in manufacturing industries such as instrument panels, seating, door panels, headliners, water shields, gaskets, seals, Noise-Vibration and Harshness (NVH) solutions and others. The leading players in North America automotive foams are Armacell, BASF SE, Johnson Controls, Woodbridge Foam Corporation, The DOW Chemical Company, Lear Corporation, Bridgestone Corporation, Recticel, Vitafoam, Saint-Gobain and Rogers Corporation.
Polyurethane foam materials provide insulating and adhesive characteristics along with solvent, temperature, and water resistance, resulting in increasing demand by the electronics industry. Major end-use industries in North America polyurethane foam market are automotive and construction sectors. Polyurethane foam materials are used by the U.S. Army to insulate their tents and wide array of consumer products are manufactured to provide durability, comfort, light weight at less cost. The aforementioned property in the polyurethane foam material is a preferred option for many industries including automobile industry. Demand for light-weight automobiles with fuel efficiency has led to more utilization of polyurethane foam materials. The technological advancements evolving in electronics and appliances industry has led to utilization of polyurethane foam materials for encapsulate, seal, insulating the fragile parts, pressure sensitive parts, small electronic components as well as underwater cables.
Automotive foams market faces few major market challenges such as waste disposal, flammability, recyclability and adverse effects of blowing agents on the environment which are directly hampering the growth of the market. Rapid industrialization, economic progress, and increasing disposable income have fostered the development of automotives, consumer goods, and electronics sectors that demand for automotive foams in North America. There is a huge demand for polyurethane foam compared to the other variants of foams and is expected to remain on the top over the next few years.
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Ankur Gupta, Head Marketing & Communications