Polyethylene napthalate also abbreviated as PEN is a type of polyester exhibiting excellent barrier properties. Polyethylene napthalate is chemically similar to polyethylene terepthalate (PET), however it’s more temperature resistant and acts as a better barrier compared to PET.
Polyethylene napthalate films exhibit several desirable characteristics such as excellent dielectric strength, superior hydrolysis resistance, excellent dimensional stability, good thermal conductivity, high mechanical strength and low thermal shrinkage. Commercial market for polyethylene napthalate is still in a nascent stage and the full potential of the product is yet to be realized.
However polyethylene napthalate has found acceptance in several applications such as textiles, industrial fibers, foamed articles, containers for beverages, films and other thermoformed applications. Polyethylene napthalate is generally available in the market in the form of laminates, granules, rods and films.
The primary driver for the polyethylene napthalate market is its application in electrical and electronic equipments. Owing to the high temperature resistance and good dielectric constant PEN provides excellent volumetric efficiency for metalized construction which is required in capacitors. Polyethylene napthalate films exhibits characteristics for signal coupling, filtering and bypassing applications.
Polyethylene terepthalate is also used for the same applications in the electrical and electronics market, however the acceptance of polyethylene napthalate has been on the rise owing to superior physical and chemical characteristics. Another major application of polyethylene napthalate is in the bottle manufacturing industry. PEN had been approved by the FDA to be used as containers for carbonated beverage, water, personal care products and house hold chemicals among others. Perishable food and beverage items which are required to be protected from sunlight and oxygen such as fruit juices and beer provide a considerable market to polyethylene napthale.
Polyethylene napthalate is also lighter in weight compared to polyethylene terpthalate and more and more manufacturers are turning to it in order to reduce shipping cost through reduction in shipping weight. More recently polyethylene napthalte has found application in automotive tire cord manufacturing due to its excellent dimensional stability and temperature resistance. Polyethylene terepthalate filaments are also used in the textile industry to produce low tex textile products.
In spite of the enormous potential market for polyethylene napthalate, there exist certain restraining factors to the market’s growth. Polyethylene napthalate is more expensive compared to PET and display a shorter flex life. The higher cost acts as a deterrent to the market but with growing production capacities the cost is expected to subside in the future.
Tremendous opportunity rests with polyethylene napthalate products as it has potential to be a substitute to the polyethylene terepthalate products. The market for PEN is still small compared to its predecessor, but the market dynamics are expected to change gradually in favor of polyethylene napthalate products with the reduction in its price.
North America accounts for the highest demand for polyethylene napthalate market followed by Europe. Electronics and food and beverage applications are the main market drivers for the market in these regions. Asia Pacific market is slower that North America and Europe, but the market presents enormous opportunity in the future. China and Japan are the main producing countries in Asia Pacific region.
Some of the companies operating in the polyethylene napthalate market are DuPont, Teijin Ltd., and Advansa Sasa Polyester San A.S. among many others.