The ICIS Polycarbonate report is published weekly in Asia, Europe and the US and monthly in CIS. These reliable and trustworthy reports can help industry players to keep abreast of the latest news and make informed business decisions.
The price assessments largely focus on general purpose (GP) moulding and GP extrusion grades and cover spot or contract, depending on the region. Market intelligence comprises of regional overviews, upstream news, graphs and production updates.
Updated to Q1 2021
Supply varied among the different grades of PC, but was generally constant. Optical-grade cargoes are in short supply, with two major producers no longer releasing spot cargoes to the mainstream market. In addition, some producers are opting to produce compounded PC over other grades, resulting in reduced quantities of some grades. Supply in the domestic China market is also tight, with some producers heavily cutting operating rates amid poor margins.
There was a slight decrease in Asian demand. Persistently firm prices have led some downstream producers to procure cargoes on a hand-to-mouth basis, with a decrease in the overall quantities purchased per spot deal. The persistent effect of the pandemic on certain downstream sectors also resulted in an overall dampening of market sentiment, leading some suppliers to be more hesitant in procurement.
There was critical supply tightness in Q1, as downstream demand remained very strong and high Asian prices attracted exports from European producers. Production shutdowns in the US following the winter storm of mid-February coupled with the force majeure announced by Covestro in Q4, which hasn’t been lifted yet, which exacerbated global scarcity. Sabic in the US maintains its force majeure too. Lack of material led several PC buyers to stop production temporarily.
Downstream demand was robust with the automotive industry boosting buying appetite. Despite talks about a potential slowdown in demand for cars in early 2021 due to global shortage of semiconductors and lower vehicle registration figures, the sector kept demand high. Buying interest in PC for domestic appliances and other electrical applications was seen as strong. Views on construction were mixed.
PC supply was tight throughout Q4. Two of the three major PC plants in the US had outages. US PC supply increased during the quarter as all three US plants returned to production at the same time for the first time since August 2020. At times, two-thirds of US PC capacity had been offline. PC availability had been very limited but began to improve by the end of the first quarter. However, both major producers – Covestro and SABIC – remain on force majeure as they ramp up production .
PC domestic has been healthy. A big outlet has been COVID-19-related applications, including testing kits, ventilators, IV tube connectors, face masks and point-of-sale safety shields in restaurants and shops. Consumption of PC in the housing and building markets is also attributable to the coronavirus pandemic, as consumer spending has focused on working from home, relocation and remodelling. Normally a net exporter, the US limited exports to meet domestic demand.
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Polycarbonate (PC) is a type of high specification engineering plastic, suitable for moulding and with a high impact resistance.
Polycarbonate resins are tough thermoplastics with major markets in the electrical/electronic sectors such as computer and business equipment, optical discs, glazing and sheet products and in the automotive construction industries.
Other uses include safety helmets and shields, housing components, household appliances, water cooler bottles, lighting fixtures, sporting goods, and aircraft and missile components.
Polycarbonates are long-chain linear polyesters of carbonic acid and dihydric phenols, such as bisphenol-A (BPA). It is hydroscopic, has only fair chemical resistance and is attacked by many organic solvents.
Polycarbonate is naturally transparent, with the ability to transmit light nearly that of glass. It has high strength, heat resistance, and excellent dimensional and colour stability.
Different grades of the polymer are available and the grades vary by strength, clarity, moulding temperatures, service temperatures and other parameters.
Polycarbonate is also used in compounds or blended with other resins such as acrylonitrile-butadiene styrene (ABS) or polybutylene terephthalate (PBT).
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