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Photo by Les Produits Plastitel Thermoformed "pods" used in Stryker Corp.'s Isolibrium patient bed won the Grand Prize at the Plastics for Life competition.
The use of thermoformed plastic products is set to rise markedly due to improved technologies, according to a US-based research firm.
BCC Research’s new report 'Thermoformed Plastics: Global Markets' revealed that in several key applications, thermoformed plastics are competing favourably with injection moulding and other plastic processes.
Thermoformed plastics are involved in several important applications such as rigid food and healthcare packaging, automotive, building products, appliances, and a wide array of consumer and industrial/commercial products. These plastics compete with injection-moulded and blow-moulded plastics along with non-plastic materials such as glass, paper and metals.
The global plastic thermoformed plastic market is expected to increase from 8.3 billion pounds in 2016 to 10.2 billion pounds by 2021, which corresponds with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.3%.
Advances will be driven by above-average growth in tubs, cups, bowls and lids used in foodservice applications and the packaging of foods such as baked goods, frozen products, fresh produce, meat and dairy products. Opportunities in pharmaceutical blister packaging will also add to the market. Other end uses include cosmetics, toiletries, hardware, sporting goods, electronic products and consumer goods. The latter category includes appliances, lawn/garden equipment along with recreational and sports products.
Growth in appliance applications will be increased by the benefits of plastic sheet, which offers lower weight, moisture and corrosion resistance and excellent design flexibility. Yet, these applications will expand somewhat slowly due to increased appliance longevity.
Sheet demand in the auto sector will also increase, said the report, due to the need for lighter weight and fuel-efficient vehicles with instrument panels leading the way in auto interiors along with the potential of plastic windshields and windows. There has also been increased usage in several exterior auto parts as well.
The increasing use of thermoformed plastics, especially in the rigid packaging market led by the food industry, is a key market driver. These plastics also have significantly impacted several key markets as a means of replacing glass, metal and paper packaging in addition to blow-moulded and injection moulded plastics.
"In sectors such as food, medical and other packaging, moisture control is often critical and thermoformed products have been used with barrier films to provide excellent packaging materials," said BCC Research analyst Mel Schlechter.
"The concept of 'thinwalling' in many packaging applications has been another major driver for thermoformed packaging."