Shortages continue for Ultem polyetherimide in response to strong demand and lack of supply.
Adding to current problems is the coming maintenance turnaround of the Ultem production plant in Mount Vernon, Indiana. SABIC Innovative Plastics had earlier told The Molding Blog that the turnaround would take place in April, and that supplies should become more normal after that. A SABIC spokesman had no comment when asked to explain the delay. The turnaround is expected to be completed in 40 days.
“What we are hearing is that supplies are still very limited, and price increases are being sent out to distributors, like us,” says Hayden Hess, VP & general manager of Industrial Plastic Supply of Anaheim, California. “We are not expecting increases of stock of resin for at least a month or two. Even then we are hearing that limited supplies will be the norm while SABIC is trying to increase production.”
One of the markets driving growth for Ultem is consumer electronics where the material is used in smartphone cases and other applications. Ultem PEI, which is inherently flame retardant, is also being used in the first fire blocker for all aircraft seating dress covers. Light weight and strength are other factors landing Ultem new aircraft applications. Foamed versions are being used as sandwich core in performance composite systems in aircraft and other applications.