Polyurethane is a kind of emerging organic polymer material, known as the "fifth largest plastic", which is widely used in many fields of national economy because of its excellent performance. At present, China is the world's largest producer of polyurethane, accounting for about 45% of the world's polyurethane production. Polyurethane elastomer is one of the many kinds of polyurethane products. Polyurethane elastomer is a series of elastomer materials containing more carbamate groups on the main chain of polymerization. It is a kind of polymer material that can be recovered well after the external force is removed.
According to different processes, polyurethane elastomers can be divided into thermoplastic polyurethane elastomers (TPU), pouring polyurethane elastomers (CPU) and mixed polyurethane elastomers (MPU), among which TPU is the largest. TPU industry is a branch of polyurethane industry, located in the downstream of the whole chemical industry chain and closer to the end consumer market.
Classification of polyurethane elastomers
TPU is a kind of polyurethane elastomer product. The raw materials needed for its production, such as polyols, MDI, BDO, adipic acid and glycol, are all petroleum derivatives or by-products, which are downstream products of petrochemical industry. TPU, a branch of thermoplastic elastomer material, is a polymer material made from diisocyanate, macromolecular polyols and chain extender (low molecular diols).
Compared with general plastic and rubber materials, TPU has the advantages of wide hardness range, outstanding mechanical properties, excellent high/low temperature resistance, good processing performance, excellent environmental protection performance, strong plasticity, strong designability, excellent transparent performance, etc. It has both the high elasticity of rubber materials and the high strength of engineering plastics.
TPU was first developed by Bayer in Germany in 1958. Major chemical enterprises in Europe and the United States successively developed and put into operation. In the 1970s, Japan introduced German TPU production equipment and introduced TPU production technology to Taiwan. Mainland China has been exposed to TPU production technology since the 1980s, but has not achieved breakthroughs in research and development and technology. After the 1990s, with the growth of market demand for TPU materials, some mainland enterprises began to produce and sell TPU after European, American and Taiwan-funded enterprises entered the mainland.
Global and China TPU industry development process
Thanks to its excellent product performance, TPU has seen a significant increase in market demand in consumer goods, industrial production, medical and health care, national defense and military and other fields of the national economy. In recent years, new TPU production capacity has been released in China. TPU operation rate has been steadily improved in 2018 and 2019. The annual compound growth rate of domestic TPU output from 2014 to 2019 is as high as 15.46%. In 2019, China's TPU industry continued to expand, with output of about 512,900 tons. China has gradually surpassed Europe and The United States to become the world's largest TPU production and consumer, and the average annual consumption has maintained a high growth rate of about 10%.
Chart of TPU output in China from 2014 to 2019
Under the influence of the Xiangshui incident in 2019, the government accelerated the renovation of the chemical industry park. Meanwhile, the price fluctuation of raw material isocyanate promoted the production cost of some small factories, and the comprehensive influence prompted some small factories to shut down their production capacity and made room for the domestic TPU supply pattern. Meanwhile, established manufacturers such as Huafeng, BASF and Meirui have been continuously expanding their production lines, accelerating their efforts to seize the market and increasing the industry concentration. Among domestic TPU suppliers, Huafeng Group and Yantai Wanhua production capacity occupy the top position.
Distribution of TPU production pattern in China in 2019
Although China's domestic TPU production scale is high, but in the field of segmentation is lack of advantages. Especially in the middle and high-end market, BASF, Huntsman and other multinational companies have outstanding technical advantages. Through efficient management mode, they can not only improve product performance and quality, but also reduce the production cost of products, occupying the main share of the middle and high-end market in China. At present, most TPU production enterprises in China lack of core technology advantages, single product structure and slow progress of new products, leading to weak overall market competitiveness and difficult to effectively improve industry profits.
The technical development direction, scale, competitive pattern, growth rate and profit level of TPU industry are directly dependent on the market demand of downstream industry.
Data shows: With the traditional rubber and plastic materials gradually replaced by environmental protection materials, TPU consumption will continue to grow, widely used in many fields of the national economy. TPU is mainly used in the fields of pipes, films, electronics and electrical appliances, shoes, auto parts, modified adhesives, industrial transmission, adhesives, wires and cables, etc. Footwear material is the main consumption market of TPU, accounting for 40% of the consumption of TPU.
Downstream application pattern of TPU in China.
China is the world's largest footwear producer and exporter, accounting for more than 50% of the global total. And the technical innovation of sole material is the important innovation point of shoe industry. Compared with traditional sole materials, TPU has obvious performance advantages and increasing dosage. Among them, ETPU has outstanding advantages of resilience and shock absorption. The sole made can effectively absorb the impact of the foot, providing excellent shock relief effect.
On the whole, TPU industry is characterized by high cost of raw materials, rapid product update, multiple specifications and models, and obvious differentiation of customer demands. Therefore, the profit level of the industry is affected by the fluctuation of raw material price, new product development ability, customer service level and other factors. As domestic residents for movement only the health policies and measures, and consumer ability of the sports goods consumption expenditure, high-tech sneakers consumer demand growth is conducive to improving the application of TPU space, on the other hand, in the high-end market, such as rolling grade TPU, medical TPU, high temperature resistant variety such as TPU, domestic is still mainly rely on imports, as domestic TPU enterprise long-term technical accumulation and r&d investment, is expected to break the foreign monopoly enterprises, expand domestic alternative space.