PIE - Polymer Price Reports

Engineering thermoplastics March 2021

Shortage of cable, pipe and headlamps for end-users / Major triple-digit increases / Producers unable to meet demand / US facilities provide glimmer of hope

The global shortage affecting various feedstock lines – and especially ADN for PA 6.6 – has catapulted prices of base polymers to previously unimagined heights, and most compounds followed suit. Polyamide converters in particular had to often swallow price increases that ran into four digits over the course of the first quarter. Apart from that, a majority of types also experienced a bottleneck from additives, including flame retardants and glass fibres.

In many segments, the supply situation could only be described as catastrophic. Some converters were outraged by the producers’ approach, accompanied as it was by delivery times for new orders of at least six months, and in some cases up to a year. In most cases, only 60%-80% of the ordered quantity is actually being supplied. Many converters tried placing larger orders to obtain more material, but this generally did not succeed.

Just how tight the situation is for end-users as well is evident in the calls for help by the otherwise-tight-lipped US car manufacturer GM. The company asked lamp manufacturers, who are normally in stiff competition, to help each other out so an adequate number of products are available for cars on assembly lines.

It would be too early to talk about a possible easing of the situation in April. US production plants are providing a glimmer of hope as they are slowly returning to normal manufacturing. It will, nevertheless, probably take until the end of April or beginning of May before they are fully operational. Most of the engineering thermoplastics covered by this report are likely to see further small increases, predominantly at the bottom-end of the respective ranges. One exception will be standard PA grades for car manufacturing: prices have so far been protected by quarterly agreements but will rise sharply at the beginning of Q2.

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