Filling the Cast Acrylic Void
It is not unusual these days to learn of yet another manufacturer choosing to close its U.S. manufacturing facilities in favor of more cost effective manufacturing options overseas.
So when Evonik Industries announced that they would discontinue manufacturing of their cast acrylic sheet, Acrylite® GP at their Maine facility, during the 4th quarter of 2010, in favor of production in their European and Asian plants, it was another indication that specialty manufacturing in the United States is in need of resurrection…or at least resuscitation.
As an Acrylite® GP distributor, the news has mixed implications. It is good news because Evonik Industries (formerly known to the market as CYRO Industries), will be increasing their stock inventories of popular cast sheet in regional distribution centers located strategically in the U.S. to feed the U.S. distributors. It is also good news in the sense that the European and Asian products they will be stocking will be more competitive for some Acrylite® distributors vs. some other brands of cast sheet products, but only in so far as commodity type products.
The more negative implication is that the specialty sheet products that were being cast for U.S. distributors on an “as needed” basis will no longer be available in smaller quantities, or in any kind of reasonable time frame. On average, it will take approximately 10 weeks to bring in a quantity of “non-stock” colored acrylic sheet from Europe and even longer from Asia, and the minimums required to do so will be higher than the U.S. market has been previously accustomed. This essentially tells U.S. distributors to look somewhere else for colored, cast acrylic sheets because most of our U.S. customers want everything RIGHT NOW.
This isn’t so bad if you still need a glossy finished, colored acrylic sheet because there are still a few other options in the US for cast acrylic sheet in reasonably small quantities, and with a reasonable production time ie: Spartech/Polycast, and Acrilex Inc.
Of course the moment you want or need an acrylic material with a special finish, such as matte or textured, in a specific color, in small or “smallish” volume for a specific project, and in a lead time a US customer would find acceptable, your options have become even more limited.
If it weren’t for Acrilex’s production of Acriglas® acrylic sheet, this news from Evonik might have spelled the beginning of the end for the U.S. cast sheet market completely. Fortunately, we are still here to fill the void left in the market. The demise of specialty cast sheet production in the U.S. by other manufacturers does not require abandoning projects where a special acrylic sheet is required, but requires an understanding of the remaining options in the industry. At this point, it should be reassuring to know you can still get your special color, with your required finish, for as little as 120 sq ft, and with a turn around time of 2-3 weeks. It should also be of some comfort that the Acriglas® sheets we manufacture are made from the same acrylic monomer used by Evonik Industries and supplied to us by Evonik Industries, so even if it is not the Acrylite® GP brand product, it is still the same quality material you’d expect from Acrylite® GP.
Finally, if it should happen that a product that was previously available in the Acrylite® GP product line is no longer obtainable, we can match that product here at Acrilex, as well as any product from any other acrylic manufacturer.
Just as “Nature abhors a vacuum”, so too does our industry. Fortunately, at Acrilex, that vacuum does not exist.