Polyurethane foam is a diverse and large segment of global polyurethane market. Polyurethanes are said to be a part of our day to day life. Foams play a significant role in commercial and industrial sector ranging from automotive to refrigeration. Based on the variants foams available in the market and increasing area of applications for flexible colored PU foams, the market is expected to experience growth in the near future. Foams are differentiated as flexible and rigid foams. The properties that rigid foam posses are hardness, resilience, compression properties, abrasion resistance, whereas flexible polyurethane foam posses properties such as dry heat resistant, water resistant, oxygen, ozone resistant and remain flexible at low temperature. Few critical characteristics for the use of polyurethane foam in the industrial sector are chemical resistant, oil and grease resistant, flame resistant, noise reduction and fungus, mildew, mould resistant.
The rigid polyurethane foams have outstanding thermal insulation properties, which makes its use as an insulator in commercial and domestic appliances such as hot water systems and refrigerators. The flexible polyurethane foam is extremely comfortable and finds wide range of applications in the furniture seating and automotive industry.
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The factors that drive the flexible colored PU foams market include the growing demand from the automobile and construction industry coupled with the rising demand from the interior and furniture sector. The demand for colored PU foams in the packaging sectors is expected to rise in the near future. Furniture and interiors are expected to be the largest consumers of flexible colored PU foams as it is used in luxury couches, chairs mattresses and carpets on a large scale. However, the volatile raw material prices are expected to pose a challenge to the growing flexible colored PU foams market. In addition, environmental regulations are expected to hinder the market growth owing to issues related to use of diisocynate in the production process.
Liquid resin blends and isocyanates are expected to contain hazardous components that may lead to health hazards. Isocyanates are said to be skin and respiratory sensitizers. In addition, amines, glycols and phosphate that exist in the spray polyurethane foam also may hamper the health of humans to some extent. Certain regulatory and health safety information is made available in the U.S. through organization such as Polyurethane Manufacturers Association (PMA) and Centre for the Polyurethane Industry (CPI). Others information sources are the raw material manufacturers and polyurethanes systems.
The key segments included in the flexible colored PU foam industry include North America, Asia Pacific, Europe and Rest of the World (RoW). Due to high growth in the interior and furniture market, North America is expected to dominate the flexible colored PU foam market followed by Europe. Owing to the developments in the construction industry, Asia Pacific is expected to be the fastest growing market for flexible colored PU foam market. Owing to the benefits such as CFC free, HCFC free and non-Ozone Depleting Potential foams (non-ODP), a rising demand for bio based PU foams from North Africa and the Middle East is expected to open more opportunities for the flexible PU foams market.
The key market players in the flexible colored PU foam market include: BASF SE, Carpenter Company, Bayer Material Science AG, Huntsman Corporation, Recticel SA, INOAC Corporation, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, The Dow Chemical Company, Rogers Corporation Stepan Company and Era Polymers Pty Ltd among others. Era Polymers Pty Ltd is an Australian distributor which offers a full range of ozone friendly foams that are CFC and HCFC free.
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