The global polymer bearing market is projected to register a CAGR of over 4.78% to reach around USD 14.10 billion by the end of 2030
Polymer bearings are often used in applications where metal bearings are prone to friction or wear and applications that may be exposed to water or chemicals. Polymer bearings can be manufactured from polymers such as nylon, polyester, or polycarbonate.
Polymeric materials are 80% lighter than steel. As a result, the bearings developed from polymers require less energy to move and are less likely to lose energy because of friction. Polymers such as PEEK and Polyimide can bear enormous loads and remain functional in temperatures of 300°C+. The increasing use of polymer bearings in end-use industries such as textile, packaging, food, and packaging boosts the growth of polymer bearing.
The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM International) is a governing body that establishes quality standards in plastics. ASTM International's standards assist manufacturers and consumers in determining the quality of plastics and their derivatives for safe utilization. The standards are widely accepted throughout the plastic supply chain. ASTM standards create an equal playing field for bearing selection by setting material guidelines. For instance, ASTM standards offer assurance to both auto manufacturers and consumers in the automotive industry. Moreover, BS 4480-2 represents Dimensions and tolerances for plastic bearings, inside diameter range 3 mm to 60 mm. Plain bearings made of FDA/EU-approved materials must meet Sanitary Standards to ensure product quality and protect consumers' health.
Impact of Coronavirus Outbreak
After hitting the lowest by the outbreak of COVID-19, the global economy is set to expand 5.6% in 2021. In many emerging markets and developing economies, obstacles to vaccination also result in delayed normalcy. The recovery is envisioned to continue into 2022, with global growth moderating to 4.3%. However, yet the global GDP is expected to remain 1.8% below pre-pandemic projections.
Travel restrictions have caused a downturn in many markets, and growth has slowed as a result. The lockdowns have forced production facilities to remain closed, negatively impacting the polymer bearing market due to revenue loss from lower adoption of the polymer bearing solutions across industries. All major industries are facing disruptions, such as supply chain failures, slow technological adoptions, and office closures. Since lifting travel restrictions, growth across application markets has gained significant traction.
The disruption of supply chain activities has also slowed down manufacturing, delaying the production of motor vehicles and thus hampering the growth of the global polymer bearing market. In addition, the decreased demand in the automotive industry was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is affecting the growth of the global polymer bearing market.
By End Use
- On the basis of Product, the global polymer bearing market has been segmented into. Nylon, Teflon, Acetal and UHMWPE (Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene).
- Phenolics: Phenolic composites consist of cotton fabric or other fillers bonded with phenolic resin. These composite materials are easily lubricated by various fluids, making them ideal for automotive applications. Due to their high strength and low weight, phenolics bearings have become popular for replacing metal bearings in propeller and rubber-shaft bearings in ships and electrical switch-gear, rolling-mill, and water-turbine bearings. Phenolic laminates act as structural members and bearing material in small instruments and clock motors. Phenolic bearings are strong, resistant to shock and water, acid, and alkali solutions, and work well in heavily loaded systems providing sufficient clearance and cooling.
- Nylon: Although phenolics are used in heavy-duty applications, they are frequently replaced by nylon, which finds its widest use in bearings. Nylon bushings require no lubrication and have low friction. Nylon is a strong, quiet material that resists abrasion in use and wears slowly. It is easily molded, cast, or machined to very close tolerances. Using a thin liner of material in a well-supported metal sleeve can minimize cold-flow problems at high loads.
- Teflon: Teflon is a great material for bearings because of it’s properties such as low friction, self-lubricating, immunity to chemical attack, and with stand to wide temperature range. Teflon bearings load capacity depends on how it is constructed and reinforced. Teflon bearings are great for exposure to weather, chemicals, and vapors applications. Teflon bearings are suitable for applications like sluice gates that require operating smoothly, reliably, and without sticking after a long period of inactivity. Applications that involve low rpm, oscillatory, or intermittent service, and reliable service without lubrication is vital, can benefit from Teflon bearings. The major drawback of using Teflon bearings is its high cost relative to other bearings.
- Acetal: Acetal is a popular bearing material in many automotive, appliance, and industrial applications. It is beneficial when working in wet environments because of its stability and resistance to wet abrasion.
- UHMWPE (Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene): UHMWPE bearings are often an ideal replacement for acetal, nylon, and Teflon bearings that resist abrasion and have a smooth, low-friction surface.
- North America: The North American market for polymer bearing is driven by the expanding industrial sector in the region. The market in North America is primarily driven by the growing demand for polymer bearings in the healthcare and manufacturing sectors. Advancements in polymers in bearing applications drive the demand for polymer bearings in this region.
- Europe: The market in Europe is projected to witness high demand for polymer bearings due to the growth of the automotive, textile, and cosmetics industries in the region. Major contributors to the market growth include Germany, the UK, France, and Russia.
- Asia-Pacific: Asia-Pacific dominates the global polymer bearing market on account of the rapid industrialization in the region. The growth potential is in emerging economies such as India, South Korea. Asia-Pacific polymer bearings market has been witnessing consistent growth due to the increasing demand for polymer bearings in the food and beverage, delivery logistics industries.
Some of the key players operating in the global polymer bearing market include SKF (Sweden), Igus (Germany), Synnovia (UK), Altra Industrial Motion Corp (US), Dotmar Engineering Plastics (Australia), Saint-Gobain (France), OILES CORPORATION (Japan), Kashima Bearings, Inc. (Japan), KMS Bearings, Inc. (US), TOK, inc. (Japan), Xinzhou Bearing Industrial Inc. (China), Waukesha Bearings (US), and ISB Industries (Italy).
The key players are engaged in strategic initiatives such as product launches, mergers, and acquisitions. For instance, in August 2021, SKF signed an agreement with Stadler Rail to offer rolling stock for the Berlin underground (U-Bahn) in Germany.
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