Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic slowdown, the plastics industry worldwide is expected to show a 2.2% decrease in 2020. However, the one trillion-dollar industry is expected to rebound and grow quickly in 2021 and beyond. Eight percent growth is expected once the Coronavirus outbreak is contained. And the market is expected to reach more than $1.2 trillion by 2023.

A large part of this expected increase is in medical plastics, which is projected to have a 17.2% increase. In terms of value, the market size will increase from $25.1 billion in 2020 to $29.4 billion by 2021. Before COVID, the projected growth for medical plastics was only 7%. The major drivers for this increased expected growth are medical disposables and equipment manufacturers for critical care systems, such as ventilators, thermal scanners, and respirators.

Medical disposables include single-use products (SUPs) generally used in surgical and procedural applications, such as masks, gloves, gowns, and other PPEs. The demand for these SUPs is increasing for obvious reasons and in part, due to instruction by governmental agencies, such as the FDA and EMA.

In addition to medical disposals, the projected growth is expected to come from the increased use of 3D printing. This technology produces solid objects from 2D designs by layering plastics and other materials to create a shape. The objects produced have excellent properties, such as strength, and a wide range of characteristics, such as various levels of flexibility and transparency. The speed of the process allows for quick development of ideas resulting in new innovations, as well as reduced time-to-market.

With this growth coming, more and more companies will be looking for assistance in the development of new and improved products. The Polymers Center is here to help with any testing, training and engineering needs. Contact us to learn more about our capabilities.