Hydrogenated Nitrile Butadiene Rubber (HNBR) Market: Broadened Scope of Application to Underpin Growth 

Shifts in the preference from nitrile butadiene rubber (NBR) to hydrogenated nitrile butadiene rubber (HNBR) has led to HNBR becoming one of the fast growing raw materials in the production of rubber articles. The perpetual rise in consumer preference for high-quality rubber calls for a change in the production process of rubber. Due to its physical strength and splendid retention properties, hydrogenated nitrile butadiene rubber finds center stage in numerous automotive, construction, oil and gas, and machinery applications. The automotive industry alone accounted for 47%share in the hydrogenated nitrile butadiene rubber market in 2018.

Considering the popularity of hydrogenated nitrile butadiene rubber in numerous industrial applications, and its contribution to the growth of the synthetic rubber industry, manufacturers are vying towards increasing their production capacities for HNBR. Sensing the high demand for hydrogenated nitrile butadiene rubber in the end-use sector and the volatility in the prices of natural rubber leading to a shift towards synthetic rubber, TMR has conducted extensive research on the hydrogenated nitrile butadiene rubber market. In its new study, TMR lays bare the key trends in the hydrogenated nitrile butadiene rubber market, and explains how the change in opportunities has impacted the key strategies of stakeholders in the HNBR market space.

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Evolutionary Landscape of the HNBR Market 

The synthetic rubber market is a key example of how volatility promotes growth. The synthetic rubber market came into the picture when the economic slowdown and low prices started hampering the natural rubber industry. It has now become an important commodity catering to the rising demand due to industrialization. Among the numerous synthetic rubbers in the market, hydrogenated nitrile butadiene rubber finds extensive application across a number of industries. The global hydrogenated nitrile butadiene rubber is projected to be valued at ~ US $ 60 Mn by the end of 2027, states TMR.

HNBR got its very own eminence because of the rising global competition in the automotive industry. New trends in engine designs called for the need to incorporate high-performance material in developing timing belts. To address this need, automotive manufacturers started moving away from polychloroprene to replace it with HNBR as the key raw material for timing belts.

Not just automotive manufacturers, but giants in the oil and gas industry eyed hydrogenated nitrile butadiene rubber for numerous oilfield applications such as sealing, gaskets, down-hole packers, and others. Although the risk of substitution continues to be a longstanding challenge for partakers in the hydrogenated nitrile butadiene rubber market, it presents an opportunity for the development of products with enhanced properties.

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Key Trends Transitioning the Market 

Governments Providing Assistance for Rubber Production 

The governments of numerous leading rubber producing countries such as Thailand, India, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka are providing economic assistance to rubber manufacturers in the form of subsidies, tax breaks, as custom duty waivers. For instance, the Indian government has helped the rubber growers and manufacturers through various efforts such as trade fairs and buyer-seller meets.

Similarly, in Thailand, the government supported the rubber industry by establishing a free trade agreement with rubber importing countries such as New Zealand and Australia. These efforts stem from rising rubber exports from these countries to different parts of the world, and the building of pressure to enhance the production of rubber. In a bid to reduce the transportation costs for raw materials and increase revenue outcomes, leading tire manufacturers in North America and Europe are outsourcing their operations to rubber producing countries such as China and India. 

Rise in Demand for Seals and Gaskets 

The seals and gaskets segment displays an upward trajectory, as it remains to be the preferred choice for the transportation and automotive industry. With the emergence of 3D printing techniques in the manufacturing sector, there has been considerable reduction in the turnaround time for the production of seals and gaskets. Capitalizing on the high demand and smooth manufacturing process for seals and gaskets, manufacturers are increasing their production capacities to stay ahead of the game in the hydrogenated nitrile butadiene rubber market.

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HNBR Market: Key Winning Strategies 

Product Diversification to Remain Imperative 

One of the key winning strategies deployed by leading manufacturers in the hydrogenated nitrile butadiene rubber market is product diversification to cater to a wide range of applications. Key players are foraying towards capitalizing on the high demand from different end-use industries such as oil and gas, automotive, construction, medical, and machinery. They are essentially tapping into the opportune potential of widening applications of hydrogenated nitrile butadiene rubber. For instance, Ge Mao Rubber Industrial Co., Ltd. manufactures products used in a pool of industries such as automotive, semiconductor, medical, drinking water, food & drug equipment, sanitary, and other applications. Similarly, Rahco Rubber, Inc. caters to industries such as plumbing, agriculture, energy, appliances, food service, transportation, marine, and municipal.

Variable Pricing to Align with Market Fluctuations 

The rubber industry is highly dynamic in nature, with production fluctuation depending upon user trends and demand from the end-use industry. Leading manufacturers in the hydrogenated nitrile butadiene rubber industry are setting the prices of products with respect to market conditions in order to gain a competitive advantage over other players. They are essentially anticipating the changing trends in end-use industries and the economic conditions to set up suitable prices for HNBR products. This strategy has helped players cope with the volatility of the synthetic rubber industry.

Analysis of the Competitive Landscape 

The global hydrogenated nitrile butadiene rubber market features a highly consolidated market landscape, with two major players – Zeon Chemical L.P. and ARLANXEO – accounting for 80% market share in 2018. Other key companies manufacturing HNBR include

  • Polycomp
  • Rahco Rubber, Inc.
  • Elastomer Engineering Ltd.
  • Ge Mao Rubber Industrial Co., Ltd. (GMORS).

Increasing production capacities and expansion of production units in developing countries remains a key strategy for players to expand their global footprints in the hydrogenated nitrile butadiene rubber market. For instance, in July 2015, KACO GmbH + Co. KG established a new plant in Ningguo City in the Anhui province, aimed at manufacturing dynamic sealing parts and supplying them to local and international automobile industries.

Players are resorting to online channels and websites to connect with a large base of customers and suppliers. In addition to this, they are striving to expand their frontiers in regional markets to leverage the untapped revenue pockets in these regions. They are participating in international conferences, tradeshows, and events to create a presence and build a strong brand image. Apart from these strategies, strategic mergers and acquisitions remain a preferred winning imperative for key market players to gain access to a large consumer base across the world.

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