A high performance fiber, PBO (or Poly-p-phenylene-2, 6-benzobisoxazole), is a heat resistant fiber. The benzene fused oxazole ring structure is the backbone of the rigid PBO molecular chain. The studies suggest the mechanical strength of PBO to be over two times stronger than any other commercialized synthetic fibers while also being nearly ten times tougher than steel. Its high creep resistance and tensile strength potentially makes PBO as one of the strongest synthetic fiber in the overall fibers market.
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The manufacturing of PBO involves the complex operation such as dry jet wet spinning process. The manufacturing costs involved with the production of PBO are much higher and hence, the PBO fibers are employed only in the highly demanding applications such as sports goods and mainly defense. As mentioned, PBO is a heat resistant fiber which also features low flammability. PBO is resistant to a variety of organic solvents. Although, its exposure to strong acidic and basic solutions hamper the PBO fiber’s strength, it witnesses lesser impact as compared to the other synthetic fibers.
PBO fibers are significantly employed in the high durability based applications. PBO fiber is prominently used in the production of heat resistant apparels (including safety gloves, firefighting uniforms, etc.), bulletproof vests, high performance sports equipment (including snowboards, yacht ropes, bicycle spokes and rider suits, among others) and substances used in the building and construction sector. The latest addition to the range of applications of PBO is its use as a conductive textile when the fiber is coated with silver, nickel and gold.
PBO is also commercially known as Zylon and used to be employed as an alternative of Kevlar in the manufacturing of bulletproof vests. However, studies suggest that the degradation of PBO in the presence of moisture leads to the fiber losing almost 20% of its mechanical strength gradually in couple of years. Hence, it is expected that though the high tensile strength of PBO keeps the demands driven in the market, its low environmental resistance can potentially limit the growth over the forecast period.
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PBO Market Dynamics:
PBO is lightweight and possesses high strength, where, its applications have been primarily driven by its employment in sports goods. The sports equipment manufacturers, predominantly targeted towards table tennis and tennis racquets, have chosen PBO based fibers as preferred material. This is expected to set the foundation for the growth witnessed by the PBO market over the forecast period. The PBO fibers are studied to be over a fraction of weight of steel while being nearly ten times stronger than it.
This makes PBO the prime alternative for replacing steel in its construction and oil & gas sectors. With the rising prominence of adventure sports like rock climbing and water skiing, the PBO market is anticipated to expand in line with the growth of such sports activities. Marine activities like vessel towing and mooring also employ ropes and in view of the high strength of PBO, the rising seaborne trade is anticipated to remain a significant factor driving the growth of the PBO market.
PBO has been stated to be used in space exploration activities by institutions such National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and might witness a sizeable growth owing to the surge in such programs. Another factor considered to drive the growth in the PBO marketplace is the large scale deployment of optical fibers around the world.
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PBO Market Segmentation:
The global PBO market can be segmented on the basis of availability, type, application and end use.
On the basis of availability, the global PBO market can be segmented into:
- Staple Fiber
- Chopped Fiber
- Continuous Filament
- Spun Yarn
On the basis of type, the global PBO market can be segmented into:
- Standard Modulus PBO
- High Modulus PBO
On the basis of application, the global PBO market can be segmented into:
- Personal Protective Clothing
- High Tension Rope
- Sports Apparel
- Reinforcement Fiber
On the basis of end use, the global PBO market can be segmented into:
- Building and Construction
- Oil & Gas
- Technical Textile
- Sports Goods
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PBO Market: Regional Outlook
On a regional front, the East Asia region is expected to account for a prominent proportion in the PBO market owing to the widespread industrial activities in China. Alongside, South Korea accounts for a majority proportion in the global shipbuilding market which is expected to generate lucrative opportunities over the forecast period. Following East Asia, North America PBO market is expected to remain prominent owing to the rising seaborne trade and increased consumer interests in the adventure sports. Europe is considered to be a steady market expanding at a healthy pace. The remaining regions are estimated to contribute significantly to the global PBO market.
Some of the market participants in the global PBO market identified across the value chain include Fiber-line, Toyobo Co., Ltd., EuroFibers BV, and Applied Fiber Manufacturing LLC, among others.
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