Curing agents (hardeners) are a kind of chemical additives added to resins to harden or toughen them. Epoxy curing agents contain epoxide functional group. The choice of epoxy curing agents depends on the base resin as well as the required degree of toughness. Each epoxy curing agent has its own set of characteristics that defines the degree of curing and time. Epoxy curing agents are commonly utilized in metal coatings, adhesives, composite, and concrete coatings, applications. These agents are mainly employed as primers for protective coatings. Epoxy resins have an inbuilt bonding capacity. They offer properties such as mechanical strength, electrical insulation, and chemical strength. Epoxy resins work more effectively when combined with curing agents. Hence, proper selection of curing agents is as important as selection of epoxy resins. The global epoxy curing agents market is expected to expand at a significant rate driven by increase in demand from the paints & coating industry. The epoxy curing agents market was valued at about US$ 3,600 Mn in 2017 and is projected to expand at a CAGR of 6.5% during the forecast period.
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Evolving trends have a direct impact on the dynamics of the epoxy curing agents industry. These trends include replacement of dicyandiamide curing agents with phenol and development of curing agents with low volatile organic compounds. Furthermore, factors such as rise in demand from the paints and coating industry and increasing demand for epoxy resin-based composites in the aerospace and wind energy industries are expected to fuel the global epoxy curing agents market. However, increasing raw material prices have increased the overall product costs, which is hampering the market.
Major players in the epoxy curing agents market have adopted expansions and joint ventures as key strategies to expand their network and share their investments. For instance, in July 2017, Huntsman International LLC. Completed the expansion of its world-scale amines production facility in Jurong Island in Singapore. The company had a production capacity of 25,000 tons per year before the expansion. Currently, its production capacity is 50,000 tons per year. The expansion fits perfectly with Huntsman International’s investment and leadership and has helped expand its product portfolio. Launching new products and facilities is likely to be the long term strategy of epoxy curing agent manufacturers. For example, in January 2016, Huntsman launched two new waterborne epoxy curing agents namely EFFAMINE M1000 polyetheramine and JEFFAMINE M2070 polyetheramine. JEFFAMINE M series polyetheramine products are monoamines based on polypropylene glycol (PPG) or polyethylene glycol (PEG) backbones. Primary applications of these products are formulating emulsifiers, pressure sensitive adhesives, and corrosion inhibitors. Additionally, these products provide benefits such as surfactant properties to modify a variety of resin types and are water soluble. Furthermore, in April 2018, Hexion launched a new hybrid epoxy/polysiloxane resin product called EPOSIL Resin 5550, which offers superior performance in protective coatings. The product offers superior resistance to corrosion, high resistance to temperature, and anti-graffiti properties.
Curing agents play a vital role in determining the properties of the final cured product. The properties of amine-based curing agents include chemical and thermal resistance and weatherability. The major applications of amine-based curing agents include coatings, adhesives, composites, and electrical & electronics, among others. Polyamides resin, widely used as a curing agents for epoxy resins, is formed by the condensation reaction between dimer acid and polyamine and contains reactive primary and secondary amines in its molecules. As polyamides have high hydrocarbon moiety in their molecules, they cure epoxy resins into highly plasticized rigid thermosetting polymers. The cured resins offer high tensile, compression, and bending strengths and are stiff, strong, and offer superior shock resistance. Amines are classified into aliphatic, alicyclic, and aromatic amines, according to the type of hydrocarbons involved. They all are important curing agents for epoxy resins. Expansion in the construction industry is a major factor fuelling demand for epoxy curing agents. Increase in use of epoxy curing agents in construction applications such as increasing concrete bonding, flooring, and marble laminate is expected to further propel the epoxy curing agents market.
Asia Pacific and Europe are the key regions for the epoxy curing agents market. Asia Pacific and Europe hold a prominent share in the global epoxy curing agents market. Demand for epoxy curing agents rose rapidly in 2017 in the market in Asia Pacific. The expansion of the market in the region is driven by rapid industrialization in countries such as India, China, Indonesia, and Malaysia, among others. China and India are significant consumers of epoxy curing agents in the region.
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Key players operating in the epoxy curing agents market include Huntsman International LLC, Hexion Inc., Cardolite Corporation, Gabriel Performance Products, Epochemie International Pte Ltd, RPM International Inc, The DOW Chemical Company, BASF SE, Evonik Industries, Shandong Deyuan Epoxy Resin Co., Ltd, Royce, and Kylin Chemicals Co.,Ltd.