Tires are by far the largest single market for carbon black, consuming 69% of total demand, which is growing at 3.8% per year.
About 70%-75% of the carbon black used in tire manufacturing consists of tread (or reinforcing) grades, while the remaining 25%-30% consists of carcass (or semireinforcing) grades.
For most applications, grade uniformity and economics are the primary selling factors. Applications such as high performance tires and racing tires require higher performance materials and offer the carbon black operators opportunities for differentiation and higher selling prices.
World demand for carbon black used in the production of non-tire rubber products is 22% and it is growing at 5.2% per year.
Major applications include automotive products as well as all general rubber components for industrial applications.
Specific items include belts and hoses (such as conveyor belts, hydraulic hose, fuel hose, etc.) and mechanical and industrial rubber goods (seals, gaskets, membranes, wheels, etc.).
In terms of grade mix, the rubber non-tire segment uses 75% of soft grades and only 25% consisting of hard grades.
Global demand for special blacks, which encompasses all carbon black used in non-rubber applications, totalled about 9% of the carbon black industry's volumes but 20% of its value, because of much higher prices.
The largest single market for carbon black outside the rubber industry is in plastics compounding, which accounts for 52% of volume demand of special blacks.
Printing inks, paints and coatings together account for another 20% of specialty blacks demand.