The unexpected shifts in the global markets because of the sudden outbreak of the COVID-19 virus have brought many major and minor tremors to industries of all sizes including the Glass Microspheres Market.
It was estimated prior to this unanticipated outbreak that the Glass Microspheres Market would be able to cross US$ 3.8 billion by 2025. However, the gradual slowing down of industries will undoubtedly impose limits on the previously estimated growth rate.
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Glass microspheres are advanced, low-density fillers used in a variety of applications. They are available in a wide range of densities and crush strengths, capable of surviving most compounding and molding processes. These microscopic spheres are water-insoluble, chemically stable, and offer a high strength-to-weight ratio. Significantly lower impact of glass microspheres on rheology than mineral fillers make them easier to form highly filled parts with more complex geometries. They minimize molding temperature and injection pressure compared to mineral fillers. Also, the spherical shape (aspect ratio of 1.0) often improves the dimensional stability of polymer composites, resulting in less shrinkage and warpage. Glass microspheres with a specific density of less than 0.6 g/cm3 help in reducing 10%-30% weight of the plastic parts compared to the traditional fillers (talc, calcium carbonate, and clay with specific density in the range of 2.5 to 2.8 g/cm3).
The demand for glass microspheres is highly subjected to the growth of the end-use industries where these microspheres are used. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the business world on an unprecedented scale. It has caused the closures of business operations, the stoppage of factory outputs, and the disruption to global manufacturing industries and their supply chain. Major end-use industries, such as automotive, building & construction, and consumer goods, have significantly been affected.
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Stratview has firstly segmented the glass microspheres market based on the material type as hollow glass microsphere, foam glass granulates, perlite microsphere, and solid glass beads. Hollow glass microsphere is likely to remain the most preferred microsphere type in the market in the coming years. Hollow glass microspheres are increasingly finding usage in plastic & rubber applications, such as SMCs, injection-molded parts, packaging films, and wood composites; as well as in construction materials, such as caulks, adhesives & sealants, cultured marbles, putties, and potting compounds; and paints & coatings; and other applications such as lightweight cement slurries, syntactic foam, and buoyancy modules & risers.
Solid glass beads are currently holding the second-largest share in the market. Solid glass beads have higher densities (borosilicate glass spheres: 2.2 g/cm3, soda-lime glass spheres: 2.5 g/cm3, and barium titanate glass spheres: 4.49 g/cm3) and offer excellent retroreflection property, and are preferred in road marking application in order to lower the risk of accidents.
Based on the application type, the market is classified as plastics & rubber, paints & coatings, construction materials, agriculture materials, life sciences & pharmaceutical, and others. Paints & coatings are likely to remain the most dominant application, in terms of value, in the glass microspheres market during the forecast period. Glass microspheres reduce resin demand due to their lowest surface area; reduce volatile organic compound, shrinkage, and drying time by increasing solid content; provide good filling on uneven substrates; and provide lower viscosity compared to conventional fillers. In contrast to white inorganic pigments, such as TiO2, the glass microspheres efficiently reflect UV, Vis, and NIR radiations.
Plastics & rubber accounted for the second-largest share after paints & coatings. Microspheres are replacing traditional fillers, such as talc, calcium carbonate, and clay, in the transportation sector with the increasing effort towards the use of lightweight materials to improve fuel efficiency.
In terms of regions, all regions are expected to mark a huge decline in 2020 in the wake of the rapid spread of the pandemic. Europe, which is currently holding the leading position, will manage its lead in the global market by 2025. Germany is the growth engine of the European glass microspheres market. Increased demand for glass microspheres in fuel-efficient vehicles and energy-efficient homes in the region is behind the dominance of Europe in the world. The short-term market demand is challenging in the European region with Italy, Russia, the UK, and Spain being severely impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
Asia-Pacific, from 2021 onwards, is estimated to heal up with the fastest pace. China, India, and Japan are estimated to remain the major markets for glass microspheres in the region. There has been a growing presence of regional companies in the market.
The supply chain of this market comprises raw material suppliers, glass microsphere manufacturers, paint/coating manufacturers, compounders, tier players, and end users. The key players in the market are the following.