Rubber & Plastics News compiled its 10 biggest stories from 2018, and we counted them down in our Dec. 10 print issue. We'll be running them online each workday until the end of the year.
5. Silicone capacity tight
Silicone producers have had trouble acquiring steady silicone supply thanks to tightening capacity.
The cause of this tightening capacity started in 2017 as worldwide suppliers have fallen behind global demand, which has increased rapidly in all regions. Momentive Performance Materials Inc. shut down silicone production at its site in Germany, leaving a hole that has yet to be filled. That, combined with a strike at its Waterford, N.Y., site further shook up the supply chain.
Prices for the material have gone up across the board since 2017—Wacker A.G., Elkem Silicones and Shin-Etsu Chemical Co. increased prices for some products. Momentive Performance Materials Inc. and Sun chemical Corp. hiked prices in 2018. These increases have ranged from 15-30 percent, hammering manufacturers of silicone products.
However, throughout the year the major silicone suppliers have disclosed investments to add capacity, which should help alleviate some of the pressure down the road. But if demand keeps sharply increasing, it may not be enough.