The global aramid paper market is expected to grow at a fast pace over the next eight years. Aromatic polyamide or popularly known as aramid fibers possesses distinguishing properties such as high strength, abrasion resistant, solvent resistant, non-conductivity, low inflammability. This is due to the arrangement of molecules along the axis of the fiber. The reaction of the amine group and carboxylic acid halide group produces aramid. Commercial aramid papers include Newstar, Kevlar, Twaron, Nomex.
Aramid papers have applications in a broad spectrum of industries which include electrical engineering, defense, aerospace, specialty papers, and elastomers. The applications in electrical engineering include armature slot insulation, wire wrap phase insulator, wedges, lead insulators, end laminates, bushings, and coil wrappers. Growing electrical and electronic industry across the globe is expected to have a positive impact on the overall aramid papers market.
The aramid papers are resistant to acids, alkalis, fluorocarbon refrigerants, transformer oils, and silicones. Alcohols, toluene, ketones, xylene, acetone slightly cause swelling effect on aramid paper, but these can be avoided by removing the solvents. Aramid paper impregnated with mineral oil performs better than kraft paper. These properties have prompted an increase in demand of aramid paper in the electronics industry.
Aramid paper applications in defense include ballistic protection, bulletproof vests, helmets vehicles, and protective clothing. Government regulations supporting the usage of the safety of defense personnel are expected to benefit the consumption of aramid paper in the industry.
Elastomer industry applications include tires, power transmission belts, conveyor belts, etc. Crash protection structure, high-pressure structures made of aramid papers are used in aerospace industry. A wide range of end-use applications is further expected to fuel the demand for aramid papers.
Aramid fibers are primarily classified into two types, meta-aramid, and para-aramid fibers. There are very few aramid fibers in production currently. Meta-aramid producers include Nomex of DuPont, TeijinConex of Taijin and those of para-aramid include Kevlar of Dupont and Twaron of AkzoNobel. Additionally, aramid made from different derivatives include Kermel of Rhone-Poulenc, Technora of Teijin, SVM of USSR. The countries which are developing their composition of aramid fibers include Hoechst of Germany and Kolon of South Korea.
As of October 2015, the overall aramid fiber capacity has approached 130-kilo tons with most of the distribution across Asia Pacific, Europe, and North America. Over the past few years, para-aramid fiber accounted for the significant share of the total worldwide production.
The commercial aramid paper is available in a variety of thicknesses and densities. This enables it to be customized according to the application, resulting in an increased demand among consumers. Unlike metals, aramid papers provide corrosion resistance. Thus, they have started replacing metals in a variety of applications like the reinforcement of columns in constructions.
The aramid fiber market was dominated by Europe regarding demand, with Germany, UK, and France being the major markets. The presence of economic alternatives such as carbon may have an adverse impact on the consumption of aramid papers. Aramid papers have certain inherent disadvantages like problems in processing.
Furthermore, there are many entry barriers to the aramid paper market, and the industry can be termed as oligopolistic. The two major aramid fiber producers around the globe include American DuPont and Japanese Teijin. The two combinedly held over 77% of para-aramid capacity and that for meta-aramid fibers it was around 63%, worldwide.
The conglomerate E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, or commonly known as DuPont was founded in July 1802. In 2014, Dupont was the 4th largest company according to market capitalization and ranked 8th based on revenue. DuPont announced a merger with Dow Chemical Company on Dec 11, 2015.
The Nomex aramid paper was developed and commercialized by DuPont in 1961. The company acquired the trade name Nomex Aramid in 1972. Nomex is used in firefighting equipment, electrical insulations, military and defense applications worldwide. The advanced fibers and composite business segment handle the aramid paper business of the company.
The Japanese Teijin company is another important player in the aramid paper industry. The Teijin Aramid, based in Netherlands, is mostly known for the production of Twaron, which is similar to Kevlar. The high strength fiber finds applications in various industries like aerospace, civil engineering, construction, leisure activities, optical fiber cables, friction and sealing materials. The company also produces Technora, Sulfron, and TeijinConex.
Research Support Specialist, USA