Polyamide-imide (PAI) Market: Overview

Polyamide-imides (PAIs) are thermoplastic or thermosetting polymers that are amorphous in nature. These polymers possess excellent chemical resistance and thermal and mechanical properties. PAIs are able to provide optimum performance under severe chemical and thermal environments. They also possess resistance to a majority of chemicals. The performance of these properties are still functional under stressful conditions, with polymers exhibiting little to no chemical degradation, wear, and creep. These characteristics make them a primary choice in applications that require low friction, very high stiffness, and mechanical strength. Owing to their superior performance characteristics, PAIs are also used in applications requiring resistance to corrosion, wear and tear, and high temperatures.

The most common methods employed for commercial production of PAIs are the acid chloride route and the isocyanate route. PAIs are synthesized in N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP) from trimellic acid-anhydride (TMA) and isocyanates. PAIs exhibit a blend of characteristics of both polyamides and polyimides such as excellent high heat capability, high chemical resistance, melt process-ability, and high strength. They are not affected by almost any of the aromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbons as well as fluorinated and chlorinated solvents.

Polyamide-imide (PAI) Market: Drivers & Restraints

PAIs are available in different grades that are used in different applications. Some of the polyamide-imides (PAIs) grades are also able to resist concentrated acids (30%) including sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, and phosphoric acid. However, their integrity can be affected by hydrofluoric acid and strong bases such as sodium hydroxide.

Melt process-ability of polyamide-imides (PAIs) enables their availability in a wide range of forms. PAIs are available in forms ranging from compression- or injection-molded ingots and parts to fibers, films, coatings, and adhesives. They are widely employed as wire coatings in the manufacture of magnet wires. They can also be used as substitutes for metal and other high-performance materials and, in some instances, for structural applications.

Polyamide-imide (PAI) Market: Key Segments

Different manufacturers offer different grades of PAIs, some of them being their proprietary blends. Manufacturing companies such as Solvay SA, Toyobo, and Quadrant group (Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation) offer their polyamide-imides (PAIs) under the trademarks Torlon, Vylomax, and Duratron. PAIs were first introduced and developed by Amoco in order to enhance the process-ability of imides by creating amide bonds.

Different grades of polyamide-imides (PAIs) are available in the market based on the value additions in the composition of the resin in order to introduce or enhance certain high-performance characteristics. Some polyamide-imides (PAIs) grades contain 30% fiberglass reinforced in them, while others may contain graphite, carbon fiber, and PTFE in their composition, either individually or in combination. For instance, PAIs are available with 30% graphite, or 12% graphite with 3% PTFE, or 7% graphite with 8% PTFE, and 15% carbon fiber in their composition.

Polyamide-imides (PAIs) resins with no modifications are also available in the market as unfilled grades. These unfilled grades have the maximum impact resistance (toughness), whereas filled grades have higher strength and lower creep. Grades containing carbon fiber reinforcement possess excellent fatigue properties and they retain their stiffness even at elevated temperatures. Addition of PTFE to PAIs further improves their wear resistance.

Polyamide-imides (PAIs) are most preferred in applications wherein high performance is required, as they are quite expensive than other materials. Polyamide-imides (PAIs) also require, in certain applications, post-curing in order to utilize their characteristics such as high resistance to wear and chemicals. Although polyamide-imides (PAIs) have high glass transition temperature, they are required to be cross-linked in order to employ them in applications above their glass transition temperature.

Based on application, the polyamide-imides (PAIs) market can be segmented into molding resins, wire enamels, coatings, fibers, and others. PAIs are often preferred in applications wherein high mechanical strength, exceptional chemical properties, and low creep and fatigue are required. Most common applications of polyamide-imides (PAIs) comprise machined or molded parts that are used in aerospace and automotive industries. PAIs are used as molding resins for components such as gears, seals, pistons, bushings, thrust washers, and non-lubricating bearings. They are also employed in the production of magnetic wire enamels, which are used in high-performance industrial applications such as corrosion-resistant coatings and heavy-duty motors.

Polyamide-imide (PAI) Market: Key Players

Key players operating in the polyamide-imides (PAIs) market include Solvay SA, Aetna Plastics, Quadrant group (Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation), Ensinger Special Polymers Inc., Innotek Technology (China) Ltd., KERMEL, and Fujifilm Corporation.

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