The polymer bearing market is expected to expand at a decent pace over the forecast period owing to the rise in demand for the product in Asia Pacific and its increasing application in the textile, medical & pharmaceutical, automobile, and food processing sectors. Polymer bearings are widely applied on metal surfaces and preferred over other common bearing materials. They are chemical-resistant and corrosive and therefore progressively favored over other types of bearings. They do not transfer heat to other areas due their ability to auto-lubricate, which eliminates the chances of failure due to low maintenance. Rising demand for the product from the automobile industry is likely to push the expansion of the polymer bearings market over the forecast period. Due to their varied properties including high corrosion, lightweight bodies, lubricant-free nature, and resistance to fatigue, polymer bearings are extensively employed in the automotive industry. However, the rigid government regulations pertaining to their use in the food packaging and processing industries have restricted the polymer bearings market from further expansion.
Furthermore, polymer bearings are economical compared to metal bearings which makes them a favourable alternative. Polymers are resistant to acid, alkali, wax and solvents owing to their non-conductive and anti-corrosion resistant properties. Being 70 to 80 percent lighter compared to other metals they are extensively used in the automotive industry. In the automotive sector it is used in the windshield wipers, shock absorbers, brakes, shafts, hinges, gear boxes, engine compartments, angle transmitters and pedals. The global polymer bearing market is majorly driven by the growth of the automotive industry.
The market is segregated by type of material into the following categories: phenolics, nylon, acetal, Teflon, and UHMWPE. Phenolics accounted for a major market share in 2016 and the segment is anticipated to retain its position over the forecast period, driven by the surge in demand for phenolic bearings from various end-user industries such as textile, food packaging, automobiles, and semiconductors. These bearings exhibit excellent strength and resistance to shock as well as to acid, water, and alkali solutions. They are useful for providing the right amount of cooling and clearance in heavily loaded systems. On the basis of end-user industry, the polymer bearings market is divided into the following segments: automobiles, packaging, medical & pharmaceuticals, and others. The automobile sector expanded rapidly in 2016 and is estimated to continue doing so over the next few years. Polymer bearings are used in this industry to manufacture belt tensioners, center armrests, gear actuators, pedal systems, stub axels, steering systems, and seating systems.
Geographically, the polymer bearings market is distributed over North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, and Latin America. Asia Pacific held the dominant market share in 2016 and is projected to retain its dominance over the forecast period on account of the rising demand for polymer bearings in end-user industries in the region such as textiles, automobiles, packaging, medical & pharmaceuticals, and chemicals. Emerging economies such as China and India are contributing significantly to the growth of the polymer bearings market in this region. China constituted a prominent market share in 2016 and is expected to remain dominant over the forecast period. North America is also predicted to hold a significant market share over the forecast period owing to the well-established industrial and infrastructural scenario in the region. Latin America is an emerging region for polymer bearings and likely to develop at a decent pace over the next few years.
Key players operating in the polymer bearing market include SKF, Boston Gear LLC, IGUS Inc., Saint-Gobain S.A., and BNL Ltd. Other major companies include Oiles Corporation, KMS Bearings, Inc., Dotmar Engineering Plastic Products, and Kilian Manufacturing.