PEsHoechst Technical Polymers has cut prices for liquid crystal polymers by 22 percent, dropping virgin LCP prices to the company's lowest-ever level. Separately, prices for many polyethylene grades have declined modestly since Oct. 1.
Hoechst said price reductions for its Vectra L Series LCP resins were effective Nov. 1.
Steve Mullins, Vectra business line director, said the reductions are designed to bring LCP resins closer to mainstream uses, and are a result of increased production capacity.
Hoechst added an LCP production line in 1995 in Japan, and has increased efficiency and output at its Shelby, N.C., facility in the past two years, Mullins and Joanne Hankard, Vectra product manager, said Dec. 5 in a telephone interview. The expansions increased Hoechst's LCP production capacity 40 percent.
``LCP resins are still in the early stages of their life cycle, and Hoechst has built this business from a small base,'' Mullins said.
``In our long-term strategy, we are looking to grow the industry and develop new end uses, and make these more of a mainstream resin. We have built plants, and gained new economies of scale and introduced new products with different chemistries,'' he said, explaining how Hoechst achieved its price reduction.
The Summit, N.J., firm said the resin line offers high-flow and reflow solder-compatible characteristics suited for high-density electronic connectors, the primary LCP market.
LCP demand has grown significantly in the past five years, especially in surface-mount technology for computer and consumer electronic products, Mullins said.
On the PE front, resin suppliers and processors said prices for high density PE softened 1-2 cents per pound, while low density PE prices softened 2 cents per pound.
Executives said seasonal buying patterns reduced demand. In HDPE markets, where resin availability was very tight through the third quarter, the slight, fourth-quarter decline in demand helped swell the amount of HDPE in secondary markets, and contributed to the price reduction for prime resins.
The 2 cent-per-pound decrease announced for high alpha olefin comonomer linear LDPE put additional pressure on low density and butene comonomer LLDPE, which compete with HAO LLDPE. Executives said even with the fourth-quarter softening, PE demand is strong, making them believe prices will not continue to erode.