Insulation materials are non-conducting materials which are used to isolate something from its surrounding atmosphere and sustain its normal state of being. Insulation can be of several types, viz. electric insulation, acoustic insulation and thermal insulation. Good insulators have atoms packed in such a way that they cannot vibrate to the extent required to successfully transfer the amount of heat, electrical or sound energy applied to it. Insulating materials can be broadly classified into mineral fibers and plastic foams. The quality of the insulator is determined by the R-value it provides. R-value is the degree of thermal resistance of the material; a higher R-value signifies a better insulator. Insulating materials made from fiberglass, mineral wool and plastic foam are used in building and construction industry, heating, ventilation and air conditioning applications.
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Insulation materials, which do not allow heat, sound, water, or electricity to pass through them, can help maintain a hospitable environment inside any building. Insulators are predominately used for thermal insulation in building construction. However, these are also used in automotive and electronic insulations. Insulation materials are classified into fiberglass, mineral wool, plastic foam, and others such as cotton wool and cellulose insulation. Fiberglass dominated the insulation market in the past few years. Plastic foam accounted for the second-largest market share. Insulating materials are used to insulate ceilings, walls, floors, and other parts of buildings. Insulation materials are also used to provide thermal and sound insulation to automobiles such as trains, buses, aircraft, ships, and cars.
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Demand for insulation products was the largest from fiberglass, accounting for over 42% of overall insulation market in 2013. Since the introduction of fiberglass in the middle of the 20th century, it has remained the most popular insulation material. These materials are widely used in both commercial and residential construction. In addition to increasing the energy efficiency of buildings, fiberglass is also one of the most preferred types of insulation for soundproofing buildings.
The residential application segment accounted for around 48% of the global demand for insulation materials in 2013. The application was the largest segment in the insulation market owing to increasing construction activities in emerging economies, and reconstruction and repairing in mature economies. Rising level of urbanization has increased the construction of residential buildings. Moreover, in order to comply with the 2012 IECC, builders are installing more insulation products per structure. This is fuelling the demand for insulation.
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Demand for insulation was the highest in the Asia Pacific region, accounting for over 41% of insulation market in 2013. Rising infrastructure in commercial and nonresidential sectors is boosting the demand for insulation in the developing economies of Asia Pacific such as China, Japan, South Korea, and India. Regulatory organizations in the U.S. and European Union have adopted legislations to encourage energy-efficient buildings. These regulations are driving the insulation materials market in North America and Europe.
Some of the key players in the insulation market are Owens Corning, Johns Manville, CertainTeed Corporation, Huntsman Corporation, and Knauf Gips KG.
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