Global Hydrogel Market: Overview
Hydrogels refer to a group of polymeric materials possessing a hydrophilic structure that makes them capable of retaining a large volume of water in the three-dimensional network. These products are widely employed across a number of environmental and industrial applications. Hydrogels are present in the nature in form of collagen, silk, gelatin, fibrin, chitosan, hyaluronic acid, alginate, and dextran.
Hydrogels based on naturally derived polymers display biodegradability and biocompatibility. However, these natural hydrogels are difficult to modify owing to their fragile nature and complex structures. Hence, synthetic hydrogels are in high demand as they have higher water absorption capacity and can be synthesized from a wide range of raw chemical resources.
Hydrogels based on synthetic polymers such as polylactic acid (PLA) and polyethylene glycol (PEG) are highly versatile in controlling polymer architecture and chemical structure. Hydrogels can be also formed in situ with the help of hydrophobic interactions and ionic interactions. Bioactive macromolecules such as proteins and peptides can be encapsulated by mixing with polymer solutions to form hybrid hydrogels.
On the basis of composition, the global hydrogel market has been segmented into polyacrylamide, polyacrylate, agar, silicone-modified hydrogels, and others (including PEG, gelatin, and other polysaccharides). Hydrogel products include amorphous gels, semicrystalline buttons, films and matrices, impregnated gauze, and hydrogel sheets. According to the form in which hydrogel is used, the market has been categorized into semicrystalline hydrogels and amorphous hydrogels. The key end-user applications of hydrogel products are wound care, contact lens, hygiene products, tissue engineering, drug delivery, agriculture, research, and forensics.
Global Hydrogel Market: Drivers and Restraints
The growing adoption of hydrogel products for various applications has supported the growth of the global hydrogel market. Hydrogel technologies can be applied to agriculture, sealing, coal dewatering, pharmaceuticals, regenerative medicines, biological adhesions, and artificial snow. Owing to the structural similarities of hydrogels to the body tissues, hydrogels have been widely studied as biomaterials.
Hydrogel-based drug delivery system can lead to reduction of toxicity and side effects, and ensure targeted delivery. Hydrogels can retain a large amount of water in their polymer network, thereby retaining the activity of proteins and preventing them from denaturation. The proven benefits of hydrogel products over conventional substitutes such as improved water retention ability, preservation of stored components, and controlled release have further augmented the market’s growth. Hydrogels are used in the manufacturing of soft contact lens, wound care products, diapers, and drug delivery patches. The growing demand for synthetic hydrogels has led to extensive research activities.
However, the high cost of development of hydrogels is expected hamper the growth of the market. Potential environmental hazards associated with the decomposition of synthetic hydrogels might restrain the market’s growth during the forecast period.
Global Hydrogel Market: Region-wise Outlook
The global hydrogel market has been segmented into four key regions: North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Rest of the World. In developed economies, the rapid growth of the health care sector has boosted the demand for hydrogel products for various hygiene products, contact lens, drug delivery, and others. In the coming years, the emerging economies in Asia Pacific are anticipated to contribute significantly toward the growth of the market.
Some of the key players in the global hydrogel market are Smith & Nephew plc, 3M Company, ConvaTec Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Alliqua BioMedical, Inc., BSN Medical GmbH, Procyon Corp, H.B. Fuller Company, AMBU, Altergon Italia, and The Cooper Companies. The market players are focusing on research and development activities to expand their portfolio of hydrogel products. In 2015, CooperVision Inc. announced the launch of Biofinity XR contact lens brandin On the other hand, AQUACEL, a sterile dressing to cover chronic and acute wound ulcers, has been introduced by ConvaTec.
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