Two sealant suppliers are issuing caution on possible future cost increases of polysulphide sealants as a result of shortages stemming from the March earthquake in Japan.

Italy-based Fenzi issued a news release on June 7 cautioning customers to expect future cost increases coming from the Toray Thiokol production facility in Chiba, Japan. Fenzi reports that the Toray facility was greatly affected by the March earthquake and has told customers that production of the polymer, which stopped on March 12, is not likely to resume until July.

“We are indeed aware of the supply issues,” adds Michael Speicher, national accounts manager for ADCO Products Inc. “ADCO does not produce polysulphide in the United States but Kömmerling, our sister company in Germany, does and they indeed are affected by availability.”

According to the Fenzi release: “To make matters worse, there are problems in getting the infrastructures and electricity throughout Japan up and running again and this is deeply affecting the production chain … Over the coming weeks therefore, problems are likely to emerge with the sourcing of IG sealants and for this very reason the costs of the products will increase.”

According to Fenzi, this Toray Thiokol production facility in Chiba produces and caters to approximately 35 percent of the worldwide demand for polysulphide polymer. The supplier also notes that the shortages of this particular material are leading to strengthened demand for alternative sealant materials, including polyurethane, butyl, silicone and hot-melt.

According to a news release issued by Kömmerling, “With other suppliers operating close to capacity, polysulphide sealant supplies could be restricted during the busy mid-summer period and there are indications of significant price rises in the pipeline from the other polymer suppliers. Kömmerling estimates that it will be able to maintain normal supplies to existing customers during this period, but will not be able to take on additional volumes for the foreseeable future. Further price increases should be expected.”

The release further states:

“The primary PIB-based sealants used in IG production are also in a tight supply position following disruption of Japanese production. Raw material for PIB is short and escalating in price. Kömmerling predicts that it has sufficient supplies at present to meet normal high summer demand from existing customers, but prices are likely to increase. Insulating glass producers should be cautious about fixing long-term prices in this unstable situation.”

“This definitely affects customers in North America that buy from Kömmerling,” Speicher says. He adds, “We have informed each customer personally.”


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