The worldwide methyl methacrylate (MMA) market is forecast to reach 3.2 million metric tons by 2017, according to new research.
A colourless liquid compound, methyl methacrylate is typically used in the manufacture of resins and plastics which go into making a range of products, including acrylic display cases, prosthetics, cast sheet, building panels and outdoor signage.
A comprehensive study by Global Industry Analysts, a research firm based in San Jose, California, suggests consumption of methacrylate will increase significantly in the next few years, driven by demand in Eastern Europe, Asia, other developing Far East markets, and Latin America.
A leading market is acrylic plastics and resins, where the polymer is used to produce sheet, moulding or extrusion compounds.
However, while automotive and construction and remodelling applications make up more than 80 per cent of methyl methacrylate consumption globally, an emerging growth market has been the electronics sector, where demand is increasing, particularly in Asia Pacific.
Manufacturers in China, Singapore and Korea are ramping up their production of plasma display panels, boosting production capacities to meet growing demand.
The Global Industry Analysts research suggests that going forward, the robust capacity expansion and growth across many Asia Pacific regions, together with demand for surface coating in the Middle East, Africa and Eastern and Central Europe, should act as a 'buffer' against the stagnant growth of methyl methacrylate in the US and Western Europe.
"Relocation of the production base represents one of the major trends in the MMA market," the research states.
"Manufacturers are increasingly shifting MMA production to lower cost regions such as Asia and Eastern Europe to tap the demand in these regions. Several producers announced capacity expansions or new plants in view of the supply shortage worldwide. China, Thailand, Singapore and the Czech Republic are emerging as preferred production sites for major companies."
Some of the major consumers of MMA include Asahi Kasei Chemicals, BASF SE, Evonik Degussa GmbH, Evonik Cyro, Formosa Plastics and Mitsubishi Gas Chemical.