Thermoset resins demand in the United States is projected to increase 3.4 percent yearly to 11.4 billion pounds in 1992, although thermosets will continue to lose market share as a result of resin and processing improvements in thermoplastics, according to Julie Evans, an analysts at the Freedonia Group Inc.

Nevertheless, new uses, resin developments and processing improvements will continue to stimulate demand for thermosets, she noted. Other factors include favorable economic conditions, technological advances, and the advantage of plastics to other materials.Among the variety of thermosets that are expected to increase in demand, polyurethane will become the dominant material and will present the greatest market opportunity due to the further diffusion of reaction injection molding technologies. However, gains will be constrained because of the maturity of most major markets, Ms. Evans said. (See accompanying table.)

Through the early 1990s, the fastest growing end-use markets will include aircraft/aerospace and transportation. However, these markets are expected to remain small, relegated to high performance military and aerospace vehicles due to the high cost of fabrication.

Construction will remain the largest market, representing more than 50 percent of total thermoset demand. The household sector is the second largest user of thermoset resins. Plastic inroads into this sector will continue to be facilitated by the low cost of thermosets and physical characteristics such as durability and scratch and burn resistance, she said.

Thermoset resin production is mainly dominated by large, multinational firms such as Dow Chemical Co., Reichhold Chemical Co. and Mobay Inc.