Silicone Tubing Shortage? KEP Can Help.
Global silicone shortages have raised the price of silicone across the board. This causes major problems for companies that rely on silicone components, including food and drink companies and the medical field.
If this applies to your business, how can you navigate the silicone shortage with the least damage to your customers and your bottom line? KEP can help. While most silicone producers respond to shortages like raising prices, absorbing costs, or existing the market, KEP offers innovative solutions that turn this challenge into growth.
So, what caused the silicone tubing shortage?
While the issue is a complex one, much of the shortage can be traced back to lower exports from China and tighter environmental regulations.
China’s Silicone Exports
In 2002, China consumed only 7% of the silicone it produced. By 2017, China was consuming 40% of its own silicone production, which greatly reduced the amount of silicone it could export.
Between stricter environmental regulations in China and Germany, many silicone manufacturers have had to shut down, driving up costs and reducing supply.
Current Market Status
In the midst of this shortage, the demand and supply for silicone did slightly improve in Q3 of 2020. The price is still very high in Europe and North America, and more moderate in the Asia-Pacific market.
- The demand for silicone is driven by the personal care, health care, renewable energy, oil, and automotive industries.
- Restricted supply from OH polymer manufacturer Dow will cause higher silicone prices in 2021.
- Silicone needs for personal care products will remain high as consumers remain vigilant about hand washing and sanitizing.
- Due to the pandemic, the global silicone market size has reduced from 5 percent to 4 percent.
- Supply issues will likely result in a spike in the silicone market price, though the price trend may not return to pre-COVID levels.
- In countries like the U.S. and Europe, healthcare, medical, transportation, and renewable energy sectors will likely cause increased demand for silicone.
- With reduced capacity from major silicone suppliers comes long-term risk of silicone shortage, especially as demand surges in developing nations.
Traditional Responses to Silicone Rubber Shortage
Traditionally, silicone manufacturers have responded to shortages in six ways:
- Raise prices
- Absorb the reduction to margin
- Diversify suppliers
- Pursue new markets
- Extend polymer life via the reclaim process
- Create new formulations or return to old ones
Alternatives to Silicone
If you are searching for a way to continue doing business as usual without increasing prices due to the silicone shortage, Kent Elastomer Products can help.
KEP produces high-quality specialty-engineered thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) tubing. Our TPE tubing is an efficient, cost-effective alternative for silicone.
We manufacture products using TPE compounds to our customers’ exacting standards. We will create a custom TPE product to replace silicone products that may be increasing in price or too hard to source due to the shortage.
Among the factors KEP can customize when creating your TPE compound are…
- Rubber Tubing Sizes
- Safety features
TPE may even be a better fit for your needs than silicone. TPE exhibits excellent physical properties and characteristics, including:
- Easy sterilization
- Low extractables
- Dimensional stability
- Chemical inertness
- Tighter tolerances
- Good vapor and gas transmission properties
You will find many of the properties of natural rubber latex in TPE, along with the processing efficiency of plastics. This results in a highly elastic and resistant tubing material.
Click here for our white paper with more information on silicone alternatives.
Tubing Available from KEP
Considering the current silicone rubber shortage, sourcing silicone and elastic tubing has become a challenge for companies across industries. If you find yourself scrambling for an alternative compound that still meets tubing compliance and meets performance needs, KEP can help develop a custom compound for your application.
As the leading flexible plastic tubing supplier, KEP is here to help your company overcome challenges presented by the silicone shortage.
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