PMMA in Asia
Business Development Asia
Asian Specialty Chemicals Newsletter Issue 13, June 1999
Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA)
is a clear plastic used as a replacement for glass. It is a vinyl
polymer, made by free radical vinyl polymerization from the
monomer methyl methacrylate (MMA). The most important properties
of PMMA include its excellent transparency and brilliance,
excellent resistance to weathering and ageing, high surface
hardness and scratch resistance. It is transparent (>90%
transmission), hard and stiff with excellent UV stability, low
water absorption and high abrasion resistance.
PMMA is processed by injection molding and extrusion. It is sold as granules for automotive and lighting applications and as cast sheets for construction, sign manufacture and sanitaryware. It is also used in paint.
The PMMA industry in Asia is dominated by a handful of players, including several foreign companies. These include ICI Acrylics Inc (Perspex® , Lucite® ), BASF (Lucryl® ) and Elf Atochem (Plexiglas® ).
ICI Acrylics and Mitsubushi Rayon Co Ltd, both leading worldwide suppliers of PMMA, signed a contract in May 1999 for joint R&D of acrylic resin recycling technology.
Atochem is growing its PMMA business aggressively. It has acquired the Plexiglas® acrylic resin and sheet business of rival Rohm and Haas. Atoglas, a subsidiary of Atochem and the world leader for PMMA, expanded its PMMA business in Asia in Q4 1998 by acquiring the acrylic business of Korean Hanwha Chemical.
Atoglas used to be a 50:50 JV between Atochem and Rohm and Haas, but Atochem bought out Rohm and Haas stake in 1998. The JV had combined the PlexiglasR Acrylic business from Rohm and Haas with the Altuglas® PMMA business of Elf Atochem.
Below, we profile selected leading Asian PMMA producers:
Asahi Chemical - Japan
Asahi Chemical produces PMMA under its Plastic Chemical and Rubber Materials Division. Its PMMA holds the trademark of Delpet® , which is produced in five different grades and used in a wide range of applications, including automotive, electrical, and telecommunications components and products.
Chi Mei Corporation - Taiwan
The leading producer of PMMA in Taiwan, with capacity of 100,000tpa. In the production of PMMA, its two main brands are ACRYREX and ACRYPOLY-BX PMMA sheets. ACRYREX, used for injection-molding applications, is used in various products from automotive tail lamps to instrument panels and housewares. ACRYPOLY-BX PMMA sheets are used in skylights, signs, architectural safety glazing, auto headlight protectors, sunroof wind deflectors and giftwares. It sells its PMMA products domestically as well as for export. Chi Mei was established in 1959 and was the first acrylic sheet manufacturer in Taiwan with its main product, ACRYPOLY.
Gujarat State Fertilizers & Chemicals Ltd - India
The only company in India that produces MMA and PMMA. The total production capacity for both PMMA pellets and sheet is 4,000tpa. Its actual production for PMMA pellets and PMMA sheets were 2,000tpa and 1,100tpa in 1998 respectively. The company does not export its PMMA. GSFC was established in 1962 and is the largest fertilizer complex in India. It started producing fertilizers, but diversified into plastics, petrochemicals and industrial gases. It has turnover of Rs20bn (US$468m). GSFC might face competition in the near future from Indian Petrovin, which is a September 1997 JV between Indian Petrochemicals Corp Ltd (IPCL) and Vinmar for the production of MMA and PMMA in Dahej, Gujarat. Production in Indian Petrovin was scheduled to start in January 1999 with a capacity of 30,000tpa each for MMA and PMMA but had been delayed.
Heilongjiang Longxin Chemical Co Ltd - China
One of the leading local producers of MMA and PMMA in China, with production capacity of 12,000tpa. It produces PMMA pellets and sheets and it only sells its MMA and PMMA in mainland China. The company is a JV formed by Anda Chemical Co and Chao Gan Biao Co, a subsidiary of Yongxin Group in Hong Kong. The production value of the company stands at RMB194m (US$25m).
In China, Heilongjiang Anda Longxin Chemical Co and Liaoning Fushun Organic Glass Factory are the biggest producers of MMA and PMMA. The other makers of MMA are small in scale.
LG MMA - Korea
The only company in Korea that produces MMA, and the only significant company that produces
PMMA besides Hanwha Chemical (now Atochem). It acquired the 22,000 tpa PMMA operations at Yosu from LG Chemical in January 1999, giving it an integrated production system. The PMMA produced is exported to Europe and countries in Asia including China, India and Hong Kong. LG MMA is a JV in which 50% is held by LG Chemical and 25% each by Sumitomo Chemical Co and Nippon Shokubai. The company recently also integrated into MAA, an advanced derivative of MMA.
Sumitomo Chemical Co - Japan
One of four Japanese producers of PMMA (others include Asahi Chemical, Kuraray Co Ltd and Mitsubishi Chemical); all of similar output. Besides the 25% stake in LG MMA in Korea, which has a capacity of 22,000tpa of PMMA, Sumitomo Chemical Co also started up production facilities for MMA and PMMA in October 1998 on Sakra Island, Singapore. This plants production capacity for PMMA pellets is 25,000tpa operating at 80%. In Japan, Sumitomo produces at 100% capacity both PMMA pellets, as well as PMMA cast and extruded sheets. The production capacities are 30,000tpa and 20,000tpa respectively. Sumitomos PMMA is exported from its Singapore plant mainly to Asia, as well as Middle East, South Africa, U.S. and Europe.
Established in 1913, Sumitomo Chemical is one of Japans leading chemical manufacturers. Its range of products includes basic chemicals, petrochemicals, fine chemicals, agricultural chemicals, and pharmaceuticals.
TPI Polyacrylate Co - Thailand
The only producer of PMMA in Thailand, with capacity of 10,000tpa. It was formed by TPI and Mitsubishi Rayon in 1992 and is 65% owned by TPI, 35% by a group of Japanese companies. The Japanese shareholders comprise Mitsubishi Rayon Co, Mitsubishi Corp, and Thai MC Co. TPA has managed to capture the majority of a domestic market share which used to be dominated almost entirely by Taiwan and export more than 40% of its capacity to such major markets as China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia. Mitsubishi Rayon was negotiating to take a majority stake in TPI Polyacrylate Co in February 1999. Mitsubishis planned acquisition of TPI Polyacrylate would serve as an outlet for MMA produced at another JV partner, Thai MMA Co, which is the only producer of MMA in Thailand. TPI Polyacrylate is a minor business for TPI. Its Japanese partner Mitsubishi Rayon handles both export sales and raw material purchases for the company.
PMMA production capacities of the 5 leading local producers in Asia:
Chi Mei Corp (Taiwan)
LG MMA (Korea)
Heilongjiang Longxin (China)
TPI Polyacrylate (Thailand)
* This excludes the production of PMMA by LG MMA, in which Sumitomo owns a 25% stake.
Taiwan's Ho Tung to start up
China PMMA in Jan '04
Taiwan's Ho Tung Chemical aims to
start up its 20 000 tonne/year polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA)
joint venture in Minhang, Shanghai, in January 2004, a company
Construction work on the project is well under way with piping and installation works in their final stages.
Taiwanese companies Ho Tung and Macromol Technology own a 55% stake in the project while Shanghai Wujing Chemical will hold the balance. The project is being built in Shanghai Wujing's plant site and not in Caojing as earlier reported.
Feedstock will be imported.
HO TUNG CHEMICAL CORPORATION
Address: 5F, No. 2, Sec. 2, Hsin Sheng S. Rd., Taipei, Taiwan
Est. Year: 1980 Employees: 130
Capital: NT$ 3,794,440,000
Chief Executive Officer: Preston Chen
Gener Manager: Stephen Wang
Products: Normal paraffin, acetylene, cement.
Hotung Chemical Corp. established on Aug. 1980 which devoted to manufacture Norma Paraffin. In 1993,the company manufactured cement and acetylene. In 1995,the company invested Helix Technology Inc.& investment company. In future,Hotung Chemical will growth multi-lateral operation about optics and bioengineering.