A sealant is a viscous material which penetrates by capillary action into a substrate where it is applied and provides a barrier to air, dust, liquids and others, from passing from one substrate to another. Sealants are corrosion resistant, insoluble in most media and have adhesion. The adhesion of sealants is slightly lower compared to adhesives. Sealants lie between high strength adhesives and low strength caulks and putties. However, they have higher elongation compared to adhesives. There are numerous types of sealants which are used across various industries such as building & construction, automobiles, rubber industry and marine applications among others.
A sealant fills gaps and voids, forms a physical barrier through adhesion and maintains sealing properties between two substrates. The growing automotive market is a key driver for the growth of sealants market. Sealants find numerous uses inside an automobile- they are used to fix the acoustic insulation parts in car doors, insulation matting, cladding of door panels, fixing the car upholstery and have several other uses in automobiles. They are used in places requiring moderate adhesion but high elongation. Sealants are formulated with elastomers which give them the required flexibility; they are also used to enhance the dielectric strength. However release of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and hazardous air pollutant emissions from automotive assembly is a major environmental concern surrounding sealants. The usage of water based sealants is expected to open new areas of opportunity for the market of automotive sealants in the coming years.
The market of sealants in the U.S and U.K is growing at a slow pace owing to the economic downturn and slow recovery from it. The market of sealants is growing exponentially in China and the Indian subcontinent due to the growing automobile manufacturing market in these countries.
Brazil is expected to be the new and upcoming automobile manufacturing hub. There is tremendous growth potential of sealants in Brazil in the coming years. The growth of the market is also attributable to technological advances such as additives which add special properties to sealants.
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Polyurethane, butyl sealants and silicones are the common types of sealants used in automobile industry. Polyurethane sealants provide strong bonding and excellent stress recovery to retain shape after being pulled or bent. They offer fast curing rates and adherence to non primed surfaces. They aid in maintaining the aesthetics of the automobile by allowing the application of paints and coatings. The polyurethane sealants protect the surfaces against impacts, shocks, abrasion and aging. Many additives are combined with sealants to add special properties such as flame retardant and insulation properties, for instance, Henkel produces sealants with special properties for different uses. Its Loctite brand provides high performance protection to chassis, automotive powertrain, interior and exteriors. Its Teroson brand includes PVC and non – PVC plastisols which are corrosion resistant and protect against element intrusion. Its other brands can be used on pre – painted or oily metal surfaces.