Stearates are the esters or salts of stearic acid. Manufactured through precipitation or fusion, stearates act as release agents and acid scavengers during a chemical reaction. The market for stearates is broadly classified into sodium stearate, calcium stearate, zinc stearate, aluminum monostearate, and magnesium stearate, among others.
Stearates are compounds manufactured through a direct reaction of stearic acid with hydroxides and metal oxides. These compounds are widely used in various industries due to their excellent foam inhibition, lubrication, water repellence, gelling, and separation properties. Due to these properties, the demand for stearates is rapidly rising in industries such as personal care, pharmaceutical, and textile.
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Transparency Market Research expects that the global stearates market will reach US$4.99 billion by 2020 from a value of US$3.55 billion in 2013. Rising demand for stearates in various areas of applications is expected to result in the market expanding at a CAGR of 5.0% between 2014 and 2020.
According to the FDA, stearates are safe for utilization in the production of oral drug formulations and candies in the pharmaceutical and food industries. Moreover, due to their gelling capacity and lubricating properties, these compounds are also high in demand in the building and construction industry. However, growth of the market for stearates is majorly due to the high demand for additives in the plastic and rubber processing industry.
Use of Stearates in Plastic and Rubber Processing Applications Boosts Overall Market
In order to increase the output and develop smoother surfaces in plastic and rubber items, stearates are used as acid scavengers for processing and compounding. Calcium stearate is mainly used in the plastic and rubber processing industry due to its excellent lubricating and releasing properties. Calcium stearate is a releasing agent that provides effective elastomeric processing properties. When used as a processing aid during the manufacture of pipes, siding, and injection molded fittings, the compound reduces the extruder pressure buildup of rigid PVC compounds and allows complete product dispersion in elastomers.
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Calcium stearate meets the quality and processing demands of polystyrene, polyester, and polyolefin manufacture. These compounds are often used as anti-caking additives in dry blending operations, as lubricating agents in plastic processing, and as processing aids in wire drawing operations. In 2013, calcium stearate held the second largest market share in the global stearates market.
In terms of demand, Asia Pacific was the largest market, accounting for a share of more than 45% in 2013. Asia Pacific is projected to lead the global stearates market in the coming years due to the rapid expansion of the rubber and plastic processing industry in this region. Demand for stearates in regions such as India and China is also expected to grow during the 2014-2020 forecast period. This demand will be due to the rising scope for application of stearates in various other industries such as building and construction as well as pharmaceutical.