Wood-plastic composites are subsets of natural fiber plastic composites (NFPC). Wood-plastic composites are materials that are manufactured using wood fiber/flour and thermoplastics such as polypropylene, polyethylene and polyvinyl chloride among others. They are generally produced by mixing finely ground wood particles with heated thermoplastic resins. Extrusion is the most common technique used in molding the wood-plastic composite mixture into the desired shape and size. Wood-plastic composites are manufactured by using recycled or virgin wood and thermoplastic resins. They offer excellent resistance to weather, water and heat; hence, there is a higher preference towards wood-plastic composites products. Wood-plastic composites are used in a wide range of applications in various industries such as construction, furniture, automotive and electrical among others.
The global wood-plastic composites market has been expanding significantly due to high demand from the building & construction industry. Wood-plastic composite products are increasingly replacing conventional wood products in the building & construction sector owing to the presence of numerous stringent environmental regulations against deforestation. Furthermore, products such as decking boards which are made of wood-plastic composites offer superior quality as compared to products made purely from wood or plastic. Additionally, the growing demand for wood-plastic composites in automotives owing to their better performance compared to conventional materials such as metals is expected fuel the growth of the market over the next few years.
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Compliance to regulations regarding carbon emission reduction can be achieved by reducing the weight of the vehicle. Wood-plastics are expected to play a vital part in helping manufacturers to comply with these regulations. Wood-plastic composites are increasingly replacing steel and plastics in several interior components of vehicles such as dashboards, internal trim of door panels, seat cushions, backrests and other interior liners. However, the development of other natural fibers such as straw fiber, fruit fiber, leaf fiber and seed fiber is expected to restraint the growth of the market in the near future.
Polyethylene wood-plastic composites dominated the overall market accounting for over 60% of the total volume demand in 2012 and the trend is expected to continue into the forecast period. However, polyvinyl chloride wood-plastic composites are expected to be the fastest growing segment of the market during the forecast period owing to its growing demand for window and decking applications. Polypropylene wood-plastic composites are expected to show above average growth during the forecast period.
Building & construction emerged as the largest application segment in 2012 in terms of volume and revenue. Wood-plastic composites are widely used in residential decking boards, window lineals, rails and balusters, door components, and fencing and sliding products. The automotive industry is anticipated to be the fastest growing application segment of wood-plastic composites and is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 9% between 2013 and 2019 in terms of volume. Increasing consumer preference for bio-based products is likely to boost the overall demand for wood-plastic composites in the automotive industry. Demand for wood-plastic composites is estimated to increase in the electrical industry as they exhibit heat resistant properties. Wood-plastic composites are widely used in the manufacture of several consumer goods products such as walking sticks, trays, musical instruments and shoe soles.
North America was the largest market for wood-plastic composites in 2012 with over 65% share in total volume consumption. Asia Pacific is expected to be the fastest growing market for wood-plastic composites over the next six years. Europe is expected to show moderate growth in its market share by 2019. The Rest of the World (RoW) market is projected to account for a market share of approximately 3.5% by 2019.
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The global wood-plastic composites market is highly fragmented in nature owing to the presence of several manufacturers. Major players in the wood-plastic composites market include Trex Company Inc., Fiberon LLC., CPG International, Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies (AERT) and Fineko among others.