Photopolymer Resin Market is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 18.5% during 2021-2026. A photopolymer or light-activated resin is a polymer that changes its properties when exposed to light, often in the ultraviolet or visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum. There is an increasing demand for photopolymer resins from the printing industry as printing technologies such as offset, flexography, gravure, and more extensively uses photopolymers in their printing plates. The rapid growth of 3D printing technology and 3D-imaging has increased the demand for photopolymer resin; thereby, fueling the market growth. Furthermore, the flourishing healthcare industry, where 3D printing technology and 3D-imaging are largely employed, is also expected to act as a significant driver for the photopolymer resin industry during the forecast period.
The global instability created by the pandemic of COVID-19 has thrown the world into a crisis that continues to unfold. Supply chains have been constrained by logistical problems due to disturbances in development and distribution, along with pushback toward globalization and free trade, resulting in critical shortages of basic goods. To maximize their capacity for beds, equipment, and skilled personnel, healthcare facilities are on a war footing. Factories need to produce, on-demand, materials, and devices for a range of critical services, particularly for healthcare. In this context, there is great potential for a resilient advanced manufacturing network allowed by the distribution of 3D printing factories. Indeed, in hospitals and transport hubs, these ‘art-to-part’ factories can be co-located to rapidly serve the medical profession’s needs. 3D printing has redeployed its capabilities in the COVID-19 response crucible, demonstrating its strategic edge in this emergency, as the demand for photopolymer resins during the pandemic is not affected to a large degree.
Photopolymer Resin Market Segment Analysis – By Form
The liquid segment held a significant share in the photopolymer resin market in 2020 up to 58%. Liquid photopolymer resins are formulated to meet the stringent demands of flexographic printing and to deliver optimum elasticity, resilience, hardness, and ink transfer. It is also known that liquid photopolymers generate capped printing plates that significantly enhance print quality and efficiency. Also, it provides users with excellent results where hardness and a clear definition of character are required. Furthermore, the liquid photopolymer is specifically designed for molding applications, since it is a highly resistant, robust photopolymer resin that offers outstanding imaging features. All these extensive characteristics of liquid photopolymer resins coupled with their wide application are the key factor anticipated to drive the liquid photopolymer resin segment growth during the forecast period.
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Photopolymer Resin Market Segment Analysis – By Composition
The oligomers segment held a significant share in the photopolymer resin market in 2020. In general, many components, including binders, photoinitiators, additives, chemical agents, plasticizers, and dyes, may be present in photopolymers. Reactive intermediate molecular weight binders are molecules consisting of a few monomer units, usually dimers (two units), trimers (three units), and tetramers (four units). They are typically liquid at room temperature and are used for ink, adhesives, and coating. Oligomers provide many potential advantages over their counterparts, such as the presence of multiple repeating sites and the high affinity of clay surfaces, allowing oligomers to compete better with water gels used for hydraulic fracturing and gravel packing. Furthermore, the treatment-imposed permeability damage is greatly decreased due to their smaller size relative to the pore size. Because of all these variables, photopolymer resins are expected to be the largest in composition.
Photopolymer Resin Market Segment Analysis – By Application
The 3D-imaging segment held the largest share in the photopolymer resin market in 2020 and is growing at a CAGR of 20%. Liquid photopolymers are widely used in the 3D-imaging. In printing methods, such as 3D jet printing, these polymers are used. Photopolymers are also used when printing newspapers and boxes. Due to their higher power, higher temperature tolerance, lower moisture absorption, and lower shrinkage, epoxy-based systems and hybrids are now preferred to older acrylates in 3D-imaging. At present, 98 percent of the world’s hearing aids are manufactured using 3D-imaging. With the growing use of 3D imaging across various applications, the market for photopolymers is likely to grow during the forecast period.
Photopolymer Resin Market Segment Analysis – By Geography
Asia-Pacific region held the largest share in the photopolymer resin market in 2020 up to 36% and is growing at a CAGR of 21.3%, owing to the increasing government initiatives in the region, which is bolstering the growth of 3D printing technology. Korea’s private and public sectors agreed in 2017 to increase the number of domestic smart factories, promising to have more than 30,000 such factories operating with the new digital and analytical technologies by 2025. In 2020, $414.4 million was pumped into R&D ventures by the Korean government to enable SME companies to advance and update automated technologies. The Government of India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information (MeitY) announced in December 2020 that it is formulating India’s 3D printing policy to encourage industrial-scale 3D printing and to help domestic companies resolve technological and economic barriers. Such government initiatives are set to accelerate the growth of 3D imaging technology in the region. Thus, with the 3D imaging technology up-gradation, there will be an upsurge in the demand for photopolymer resins, which is anticipated to drive the market in the Asia Pacific region.
Photopolymer Resin Market Drivers
Increasing Demand for Printing Inks
Photopolymers deliver some of the outstanding printing advantages, such as fine image production, high longevity, and better transfer of ink. All pre-packed commodities require a food label that displays certain mandatory information. And the increasing demand for proper labeling in packages is increasing the demand for printing inks. For instance, the Indian government introduced, Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, in 2011, the products should be digitally labeled with information such as best before, date of manufacture, date of packaging, use-by date, and more. New legislation that will affect CE labeling for medical devices is currently being finalized by the EU. With new measures coming into effect in May 2021 for medical devices and 2022 for in-vitro medical devices, the new rules have a transition period. With the increasing labeling market, the demand for printing inks will also increase, which will then drive market growth.
Increasing Demand for 3D Printing From the Healthcare Industry
In the medical and healthcare sectors, 3D printing technology has recently gained traction. This technology is used in various medical industry applications, such as the manufacture of tissues and organs, personalized medications, and medical equipment and instruments. Thermoplastics powered by their attractive properties, such as improved thermal resistance, improved elasticity, and greater impact power, are attracted to photopolymers. And the growing investment in healthcare services is strengthening the healthcare industry. For instance, in 2018, the Australian Government announced to drive a new era of better health care in Australia it will invest $1.3 billion in the Health and Medical Industry Growth Plan. According to the European Commission, public expenditure on healthcare and long-term care is expected to increase by one-third by 2060 in Europe. Thus, the photopolymer resin market growth will be spurred by the rapid expansion of the healthcare industry across the regions.
Photopolymer Resin Market Challenges
Drawbacks Associated with Photopolymer Resins
In a broad range of fields, photopolymer resins have applications, but these applications are usually highly specialized. Compared to similar high-strength injection molding materials, photopolymer resins are not especially solid or robust and are prone to slippage after bearing heavy loads for a long period of time. Furthermore, photopolymer resins such as liquid photopolymer resin can be quite expensive, depending on where it is supplied from. Resin can cost upwards of USD 200 per liter for high-end commercial machines, compared to USD 30 for a kilo of ABS plastic filament. All these drawbacks associated with photopolymer resins are likely to hinder the photopolymer resins market growth during the forecast period.
Photopolymer Resin Market Landscape
Technology launches, acquisitions, and R&D activities are key strategies adopted by players in the photopolymer resin market. Major players in the photopolymer resin market are Anderson and Vreeland, Chemence, Dsm, Flint Group, Formlabs, Kivi Marking, Macdermid Inc., Nexa3D, Nitto Denko, Photocentric, Liqcreate, and Polydiam Industry.
In November 2020, together with the chemical company Henkel, 3D printer manufacturer Nexa3D launched its latest general purpose xPRO410 photopolymer resin. The rigid material is based on the polymer Loctite PRO410 from Henkel and is designed for printing on the NXE400 SLA 3D printer from Nexa3D.
In May 2020, the Netherlands-based manufacturer of 3D printing products, Liqcreate, unveiled its new Tough-X photopolymer resin. The new material from Liqcreate offers high durability, which is ideal for producing spare parts and consumer products such as insoles.
Asia-Pacific Asia-Pacific dominates the photopolymer resin market, owing to the increasing demand for printing inks from the packaging industry in the region for labeling and invoice of products.
Photo-initiators such as benzophenone, diaryliodonium salts, Pyridinium salts, and more are important additives for initiating the photopolymerization reactions.
Manufacturers of smartphones also use 3D printing technology for the production of smartphone parts. The demand for photopolymers is expected to expand during the forecast period, with the increasing use of 3D printing technology across different applications.
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