Plastic Films

Flexible films are defined as being planar forms of plastics, which may be thick enough to be self-supporting but thin enough to be flexed, folded and/or creased without cracking. Films comprise around 25% of all plastics used worldwide, around 40 million tons, and are thus a massive market sector. Commodity plastics dominate, with polyethylene and polypropylene together accounting for around 34 million tons. This is an expanding area with increased demand each year particularly in the developing regions of the world and with a move from rigid to flexible packaging. There are many material types used in films from single layer polymers to multilayer structures with tie layers and copolymers. Multilayers permit custom adaptation of material properties from barrier to strength. Technology, such as the orientation of polypropylene, has produced better properties and more valuable materials. High performance plastics are also being used in applications such as telectronics. The different materials in use in films are reviewed in this market report. There are details of the main suppliers including mergers and capacity. There are details of the main suppliers including mergers and capacity. Films can be made via a number of converting processes: extrusion, coextrusion, casting, extrusion coating, extrusion laminating and metallising. Blown extrusion was the first process used to make films of polyethylene. These processes have advantages and disadvantages depending on the material type in use, the width and thickness of film required. Films are mainly used in packaging for foodstuffs, but there are also substantial market segments for medical, electronic, automotive and construction applications. Specific applications include decorative wrap, form-fill-seal, blood bags, flexible printed circuits, bed sheeting, diapers, and in-mould decorating of car parts (to replace painting and provide a more durable surface coating). Carrier bags and garbage bags are big markets, with imports to Europe; there are environmental concerns about the use of plastic bags and these are discussed in the report. In construction films are used in glazing, damp proofing, tarpaulins, geomembranes and similar applications. PE and PP are the main materials used in packaging films. PET is primarily used in magnetics, optics and telectronics. PVC is found in consumer goods and medical applications, while PVB is mainly used in automotive and construction applications as glazing protection. Multimaterial films account for around 7 million tons of the films produced, with around 95% of this going into packaging applications. These are just some of the examples listed in this market report. Europe and North America each account for about 30% of the total world consumption of plastic films. The plastic films supply structure and individual company information are summarised in the second half of this market report on Plastic Films in Europe and the Rest of the World. Key features