Polybenzoxazole fiber (commercially also known as Zylon), is one of the strongest synthetic fiber having properties like high thermal stability, flame resistance and high tensile strength making it suitable for range of applications. Polybenzoxazole fibers belong to the group of synthetic fibers which exhibit excellent mechanical properties of high strength and low self weight making them appropriate as reinforced materials. As these fibers absorb very less moisture it makes them apt for high humidity working conditions. The applications for Polybenzoxazole fibers largely include military application (Body armor), space elevators, motorsport applications (tyre affixing), conductive textiles and others including standing rigging used in sail boats. These fibers are manufactured by Japanese company named Toyobo and the primary market includes the North America, Europe and Asian Countries like Japan which nearly hold three-fourth of polybenzoxazole fibers followed by rest of the world.
Polybenzoxazole fibers are synthesized from chemical reaction of Terephthaloyl chloride and 4, 6-diammino resorcinol. Polybenzoxazole fibers being resistant to large number of chemicals makes it most suitable in applications wherein extreme temperature conditions are experienced. Also properties like abrasion and resistance to cut makes these fibers ideal for protective clothing used in electrical application. Polybenzoxazole fibers also find applications in sports clothing which necessitate properties of low self weight and high flexibility. Polybenzoxazole fibers are also used in Motorsport (Formula One) racing applications wherein the tyres are affixed to the chassis using these fibers preventing any airborne movement of wheel in case of high speed accident. The other applications principally include yacht ropes and sail boat cloth, fishing rods, cycle spokes and tennis racket strings. The applications in protective jackets (body armor) and space applications dominate the market with respect to the consumption of these fibers. Polybenzoxazole fibers with its properties of high tensile strength and thermal stability make it appropriate for fire-fighting body armor. However the prime concern regarding these fibers is that they tend to degrade mechanically as well as chemically (residual phosphoric acid) over a certain period which accelerates the fiber degradation. In spite of these problems the polybenzoxazole fibers are used in space applications along with light weight protective chemical coat on their surface.
The market for polybenzoxazole fibers will witness an upward trend in both developed and developing countries majorly due protective clothing (fire fighting) applications of these fibers. The market would be dominated by the U.S. followed by China and Japan and other European countries. Considering the incessant requirement of high altitude data by various organizations like NASA (balloon application for high altitude) followed by other space applications the requirement of polybenzoxazole fibers would soar even further. This market would be largely dominated by countries like the U.S, Russia, and other Asia-pacific countries like India and China mainly due to increased number of space applications. The motorsport is another dominating market for polybenzoxazole fibers mainly for safety applications. The cockpit of motorsport is cladded with polybenzoxazole fibers for anti-penetration panel preparation. These fibers prevent any splinters getting into cockpit proving immense security for F1 drivers at high speeds of 150 km/hr and more. Along with cockpit application polybenzoxazole fibers are also used to affix wheels of these high speed racing cars to chassis preventing any accidents causing out of them. Thus the safety concern of the drivers would drive the market for polybenzoxazole fibers across the globe. This market would be largely dominated by countries like UK, Italy, and Germany owing to greater number of motorsport car manufacturers. The other applications include preparation of ropes for yacht or sail boat will continue to grow with increase in industry of sailboats.
The worldwide manufacturer of polybenzoxazole fibers is Toyobo (Japan) followed by various other companies.
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