DuPont, Plastics News Survey Finds What Keeps the Plastics Industry up at Night
Results Shared at NPE2015: The International Plastics Showcase Opens to 60,000 Registrants
WILMINGTON, Del., March 23, 2015 – As the tri-annual NPE opens today in Orlando, Fla, many of the 60,000 who registered are dealing with issues like the environment and sustainability, global competition and unstable oil prices, according to a survey of nearly 800 plastics industry professionals.
The Plastics Industry Trends survey, created and deployed by Plastics News, DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers (P&IP) and DuPont Performance Polymers (DPP), was designed to uncover top industry issues, identify material and technology needs and understand how the role of materials’ suppliers is evolving.
“When you consider the fact that plastics touches every market, every region of the world, it’s probably not a surprise that some of the same things that keep our world leaders awake at night – like the environment and oil prices - also keep our industry awake at night,” said HH Wong, director, DPP Americas. “The impact of these issues may be felt more sharply in some regions and markets than in others, but on the whole we clearly reflect the world in which we live.”
Materials Suppliers are More Valuable
Nearly 40 percent of the survey respondents said the role of materials supplier is gaining in importance and Wong sees that as a natural evolution of the growing collaborative environment throughout the value chain.
“Success feeds on itself,” said Wong. “We’ve all tasted the success that comes from collaborative efforts and that success has elevated everyone’s role in the value chain.”
Many of the survey comments reflect a growing need for materials suppliers to provide technical support for material selection and product development. “The industries we support are moving more quickly, product development cycles are shortening and the growing collaborative model is inviting us to better streamline development efforts and eliminate duplication” said Wong. “We play to our strengths and one of our strengths has always been in application development.”
Materials and Technology: Finding the Thread
While 34 percent of the plastics community is fully satisfied with the current portfolio of resins and polymers, more than half say they have unmet needs, according to the survey.
Respondents further identified the performance attributes they rely on today and those they want to see enhanced.
“Turns out that for the most part the very attributes that people value today are the ones they would like to see enhanced,” said David Dean, Ph.D., research and development director, P&IP, referring to the fact that structural capabilities, durability and thermal resistance are the top three responses to both questions (click to download additional chart).
“The drivers for more robust materials vary from industry to industry. More robust materials are used in packaging, for example, to better protect food, which helps reduce food loss and waste. In the automotive industry, they are used to develop lightweight components, which improves fuel economy. But at the end of the day, we see a common thread in the need for more robust materials and that helps guide our materials science.”
Enhancing material capabilities also rises to the top of the list of technologies the industry says it wants to address, according to the survey results (click to download additional chart).
“Our industry today is doing things that 20 years ago no one would have thought possible, and we know we need to work together to identify the materials-science needs that can continue the momentum,” Dean said.
NPE runs from March 23 – 27 in Orlando, Fla. P&IP and DPP will be hosting presentations and panel sessions open to the public in room W207A to address some of these challenges, including automotive lightweighting, tougher multilayer packaging structures, material selection strategies and the role of collaboration in innovation. A schedule is available at npe.dupont.com.
The DuPont, Plastics News ‘Plastics Industry Trends’ survey was conducted by email in February 2015 and an executive report is available by clicking this link. More than 800 industry professionals qualified themselves as being involved in the selection, use or purchase of resins, polymers or elastomers. Most respondents use engineering polymers, general polymers and elastomers. Their job functions are primarily research and development, management and the design community. The markets primarily served are automotive, industrial and electrical/electronic. Nearly half of respondents are based in the United States; one fourth in Europe and the rest are from regions around the world.