The hot-melt adhesives (HMA) market is projected to grow from U.S. $9.1 billion in 2022 to $11.4 billion by 2027 — at a CAGR of 4.8% between 2022 and 2027. This is according to a new report from MarketsandMarkets.
HMA are highly effective when the temperature is close to their flow point, making movement and bonding of the adhesives easy for various applications, such as packaging and non-woven hygiene products. These adhesives are useful in both the creation and finishing of synthetic fabrics and are regularly used in polymer processing and textile converting, such as in vehicles, carpeting, home furnishing, and other textile-based manufacturing applications. They can also be used in electronics.
In terms of packaging solutions, the HMA market is forecast to increase substantially. They’re ideal for food and general consumer packaging, as well as carton sealing, labels, and more.
However, HMAs exhibit limitations at high temperatures due to lesser thermal resistance so, depending on the application, they might be replaced by solvent and waterborne adhesives.
As HMAs can bond to a wide variety of materials and surfaces — such as ceramic, fabric, papers, cardboard, metal, and plastics — they’re often used in do-it-yourself (DIY) applications. Although DIY is popular in developed economies, such as North America and Europe, whereas in emerging markets such as India, UAE, and Turkey it is a relatively new concept.
The DIY applications include woodworking, general goods packaging, crafts and others. The stick form of HMA is widely used in these applications because of its ease of use and the availability of HMA guns.
Hot-melt systems are cost-effective in terms of floor space and labor requirements. This is mostly the result of eliminating the costs of operating large drying and curing ovens and pollution control equipment. Solvent recovery and incineration equipment, which are inevitable for solvent-based systems, are also eliminated from hot-melt systems. This ultimately reduces installation and maintenance costs of these systems, surging their demand in DIY applications.
The parameters, such as price and availability of raw materials, are the key factors that the adhesive manufacturers determine the cost structure of their products. Raw materials used in the adhesive industry include plastic resins, synthetic rubber, inorganic chemicals, and refined petroleum products. Most of these raw materials are petroleum-based derivatives and vulnerable to the fluctuations in commodity prices.
Oil prices have been highly volatile in recent years owing to increasing global demand and unrest in the Middle East.
The polymer resins are also witnessing a fluctuation in prices because of the supply and demand imbalance. Such cases increase the production costs incurred by the manufacturers, compelling them to increase the overall cost of the finished products.
Such volatility in raw material prices poses a threat to an adhesive manufacturer’s performance and reduce their profit margins.
EVA resin accounted for the largest segment of the HMA market between 2022 and 2027.
EVA copolymers are used as a base polymer for HMAs. EVA is a modified PE or a copolymer of ethylene with vinyl acetate that offers greater flexibility or the ability to withstand adverse temperature changes in comparison to PE. It’s manufactured in three grades with varying content of Vinyl Acetate (VA), namely, 7%–15% VA, 15%–20% VA, and 20%–40% VA.
Despite its prominence in the packaging industry, EVA-based hot melts face a few barriers, such as smoke and odor from melt tanks, high cost of maintenance and replacement of nozzles and filters in the production line, low viscosity, and low sustainability at high temperatures.
The exports to South America and Africa from Europe and the U.S. of high-quality polyolefin HMAs is also expected to affect the EVA market negatively.
Metallocene PO (mPO) is the fastest-growing segment of the overall HMA market. Metallocene is a compound that typically consists of two cyclopentadienyl anions. mPO-based HMA is clear, odorless, and has high thermal stability. mPO-based HMA is a fast-setting adhesive and is suitable for colorless applications.
It can be used to manufacture high-quality laminates by direct contact or spray application technique. mPO is used in case and carton sealing, food ad beverage packaging, nonwoven hygiene products, woodworking, film laminating, graphic arts, and bottle labeling. mPO-based HMA have lower production cost in comparison to EVA.
Henkel AG & Co., H.B. Fuller, 3M (US), and Arkema (Bostik) are a few of the key players in the global HMA market.
Arkema (Bostik) is structured into three complementary segments dedicated to specialty materials, advanced materials, and coating solutions. It recorded sales of U.S. $9 billion in 2020 and operates in 55 countries with 20,500 employees. The company has 147 production units worldwide: 64 in Europe, 42 in North America, 27 in Asia, and 14 in rest of the world.
A few other company developments…
In February 2022, Arkema acquired wide range of key technologies and well-known brands of Ashland Performance Adhesives. It’s a major player in pressure-sensitive adhesives, particularly decorative, protection, and signage films for automotive and buildings. It also holds leading positions in structural adhesives and offers an extensive range of hot-melt adhesives for flexible packaging.
In May 2021, Arkema has acquired Edge Adhesives Texas, a developer and manufacturer of innovative adhesive solutions used in residential buildings with annual sales of around US$12 million. This will help Bostik to expand its offerings in high performance adhesives in the United States as a complementary asset in hot-melt adhesives and pressure-sensitive adhesive tapes for residential construction.