Connecting Old and New: Ceresana Examines the European Market for Adhesives
Future mobility will depend on innovative joining technology: a new car contains around 18 kg of adhesives.
Combining Established and Innovative Materials
This latest study by Ceresana not only examines the growing use of adhesives in the automotive industry, where aluminum and fiber-reinforced plastics have to be joined with steel in a strain-free manner. An astonishing amount of paper is still needed in spite of digitalization and an increasing number of plastics: The most significant sales market for adhesives in 2019 was the segment paper and packaging with around 29% of total European usage. The construction industry came in second by a slight margin. Other major application areas for adhesives are wood processing, shoes and leather, as well as other consumer goods.
Plastics with Special Properties
Vinyl adhesives, which offer a particularly broad range of applications, constituted the most important product type in 2019. Adhesives based on polyvinyl acetate (PVAC) are also among the most important grades. Polyvinyl acetate is additionally used to produce polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), which is likewise used as an adhesive, e.g. for porous materials such as paper, cardboard, wood, cork, or leather. The primary consumers of vinyl adhesives are the paper, packaging, wood products, and construction industries, which use mainly water-based products and hotmelt adhesives.
Looking for Alternatives to Solvents
Physically setting adhesives in particular contain between 30 and 60 percent (by weight) of organic solvents, which evaporate from glued surfaces and from open tubes or bottles. Aromatic hydrocarbons are considered to be not only a fire hazard but also a health risk: Their vapors, such as those of xylene or toluene, can be addictive and are suspected of being carcinogenic and mutagenic. Alternatives that are less harmful to health and the environment are therefore increasingly sought after. In Europe, water-based adhesives already accounted for over 50% of total consumption in 2019. However, if an adhesive contains only water as a solvent, then preservatives must be added to it, which can in turn be problematic for people suffering from allergies. This study by Ceresana provides a breakdown of the adhesives market by technologies: