Two global chemical companies, the German company Wacker and the Japanese company Shin Etsu, are experiencing strong demand for silicone products and in response to that demand are increasing silicone production capacities.
Wacker indicates that customer demand for silicones is high. Silicone sales increases have been in the 10% range, higher than for overall company sales. Leading the way are silicones used in the construction, electronics, and automotive sectors. The capacities of silicone production plants in the United States, Norway, South Korea, and Brazil have been increased. Wacker has recently opened a research and development center in the United States focusing on silicone products.
Shin Etsu is expanding silicone production capacity at its Gumma and Niigata plants in Japan. The company is also expanding the capacity of its silicone monomer and polymer production plants in Ragong Province, Thailand (monomers: from 70,000 to 105,000 metric tons per year; polymers: from 54,000 to 74,000 metric tones per year). Shin Etsu is the second largest global producer of silicones with 20% of the market. (Dow Corning has the largest share.) The company is also increasing its silicone-related research and development efforts. Shin Etsu expects a rising global demand for high-performance silicone products. The company has been experiencing an average 13% increase in silicone sales in recent years.
Silicones are used in thousands of products spread across several sectors such as construction, transportation, energy, health, and food. Increasing demand for silicones products in these sectors should be a good indicator of global economic growth. Click here to go to a website maintained by the European trade association CES that provides a good overview of what silicones are and their uses.