Automotive foams are generally polymer foams and are made up of gas and solid phase mixed together to form a foam which is achieved by combining the two phases too briskly for the system to respond in a smooth fashion. The resulting foam is incorporated with either air bubbles or air tunnels also known as either closed cell structure or open cell structure. Open cell foams are usually flexible, while closed cell foams are generally rigid. The gas involved in the manufacturing of automotive foam can either be chemical or physical and is termed as a blowing agent. Physical blowing agents are those gases which are not involved in direct chemical reaction in the foaming process and thus are inert in nature whereas chemical blowing agents are those gases that take part in the chemical reaction and thus decompose to release chemicals in the foaming process. Polymer foams can be produced through various methods including extrusion, slab-stock by pouring and different types of molding. There are various types of polymer foams including polyurethane, biodegradable foams, starch foams among others. Polymer foams find their applications in various sectors including automotive, packaging, building & construction, furniture & bedding among others. Major methods of manufacturing automotive foams are molding and slabstock.
Global Automotive Foams Market: Segmentation
The global automotive foams market can be segmented on the basis of types, application and end-use industry. On the basis of type, the global automotive foams market can be segmented into polyurethane, starch foams, biodegradable foams and others. On the basis of application, the global automotive foams market can be segmented on the basis of instrument panels, seating, door panels, headliners, water shields, gaskets, seals, Noise-Vibration and Harshness (NVH) solutions and others. On the basis of end-use industry, the global automotive foams market can be segmented into passenger cars, light commercial vehicles (LCV), and heavy commercial vehicles (HCV).
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Global Automotive Foams Market: Dynamics
Various properties of automotive/ polymer foams including low density, weight reduction characteristics and cost effectiveness are some of the main reasons driving the global automotive foams market. Moreover, automotive foams are optimal insulators with low heat transfer properties, which is a key factor fuelling the demand for automotive foams over other alternatives thus in turn driving the overall global automotive foams market. Flexibility and softness of automotive foams also provide extra comfort to the passengers which is a major factor pumping the growth of the global automotive foams market. Furthermore, growing consumer preference for polymer foams in vehicles and increasing manufacturer’s inclination towards automotive foam products in commercial vehicle applications is a major factor driving the demand for automotive foams thus fuelling the overall global automotive foams market.
The major challenges involved in the global automotive foams market include waste disposal, flammability, recyclability and others. Moreover, adverse effects of blowing agents on the environment is another major challenge hampering the growth of the global automotive foams market. Stringent government regulations on the adverse effects of chloro-fluoro-carbons (CFCs) involved in the manufacture of polymer foams is another key factor restraining the growth of the global automotive foams market.
Global Automotive Foams Market: Region-wise Outlook
Considering regions, North America in the global automotive foams market is anticipated to dominate the other regions throughout the forecast period followed by Western Europe. Moreover, APAC is expected to witness the highest growth during the forecast period. The global automotive foams market is divided into seven key regions including North America, Latin America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Asia-Pacific excluding Japan, Middle East & Africa and Japan.
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Global Automotive Foams Market: Key Players
The key players involved in the manufacture of automotive foams include Woodbridge Foam Corporation, Bridgestone Corporation, Johnson Controls, The Dow Chemical Company, BASF Chemical Company, Lear Corporation, Vitafoams, Saint-Gobain, Armacell, Recticel among others.