Specialty Carbon Black Manufacturers Eye Opportunities in Wide-ranging Industries
Right from the automotive industry to the printing industry, carbon black has become ubiquitous across various industrial verticals. However, the constantly growing need for highly-advanced products is triggering innovation in the carbon black industry. The demand for specialty and high-value carbon black is on the rise, as the preference of end-users continues to evolve.
Specialty carbon black’s highly-touted properties, including ultraviolet (UV) protection, conductivity in plastics, and its ability to enhance the aesthetic appeal of various products are boosting its adoption. Transparency Market Research (TMR), in its latest offering, thoroughly analyzes the specialty carbon black market, and offers credible and incisive insights that can arm stakeholders with the arsenal to succeed.
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Market to Evolve through Environmental Regulations and Price Volatility
The specialty carbon black landscape has witnessed healthy growth in the past few years, recording global sales of ~ 1,000 kilo tons, worth ~ US$ 2 billion in 2018. With a mounting number of manufacturers in this market space, including Himadri Specialty Chemical Ltd, Orion Engineered Carbons and Cabot Corporation, expanding their production facilities, the specialty carbon black market is expected to witness significant developments in the coming years. Himadri Specialty Chemical has announced the setting up new carbon black production lines at its existing integrated plant at Mahistikry in West Bengal, India, for the production of specialty carbon black.
On the other hand, Orion Engineered Carbons has announced the expansion of the production capacity at its manufacturing facility in Ravenna, Italy, Europe, owing to the growing applications of specialty carbon black in the coatings, polymers, and printing markets. Also, Cabot Corporation is investing ~ US$ 50 million in 18 of its carbon black facilities to cater to the increasing demand from its customers in the specialty carbon black market, through debottlenecking projects and operational improvements.
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Though the demand for specialty carbon black is surging, the environmental impact of its manufacturing continues to be a concern. Complying with stringent regulations can add to the overall cost for specialty carbon black manufacturers, while delaying the product’s time to market. Thus, the expansion ambitions of manufacturers can be stymied due to the complexities and investments involved in meeting environment regulations.
Many manufacturers, in a bid to recover regulation costs, have introduced an environmental compliance surcharge to prices of carbon black. For instance, Tokai, a carbon black manufacturer, is adding a ‘3 cents per pound’ environmental compliance surcharge to their prices. Another carbon black leader, Orion Engineered Carbons, has announced an environmental compliance surcharge of 1.5 cents per pound. This surcharge has been implemented to address the initial estimated cost of compliance to reinforce materials for customers, and will influence the pricing of specialty carbon black in the coming years.
Applications in Plastics Grow Strong; Battery Industry to Create New Sales Opportunities
The specialty carbon black landscape is expanding rapidly, as applications in a wide range of industrial segments create new opportunities for stakeholders. While the increasing growth of the paints and coatings, and inks & toners industries continues to foster growth, lucrative opportunities in the rapidly-growing plastics industry will support manufacturers in strengthening their sales performance in the specialty carbon black landscape.
In 2018, applications of specialty carbon black in the plastics industry, such as wires & cables, and conductive and Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) plastics, held ~ 68% revenue share of the global specialty carbon black market. Since specialty carbon black meets rigorous specifications and delivers important functionality performance, it provides high value to the end users in the plastics industry. This trend is expected to prevail in the coming decade, boosting the sales of specialty carbon black in the plastics industry.
Another trend that is influencing the market dynamics of the specialty carbon black landscape is the rise in the adoption of lithium-ion technology in electric and hybrid electric vehicles. The demand for new batteries is surging worldwide, and increasing applications of high-performance carbon additives in battery electrodes are opening new avenues of growth for specialty carbon black in the lithium-ion battery industry. Stakeholders are likely to concentrate on entering new industrial areas, such as the battery industry, to create new revenue streams and boost sales in the coming years.
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Focus on Boosting Volume Growth by Enhancing Performance Properties: A Key to Win
Leading players in the specialty carbon black market have increased focus on revising their capability to produce more technologically-superior products. This has ensued manufacturers to expand their production in terms of volume, to offer a broad and unique range of product offerings, instead of maximizing product value in terms of revenue.
Subsequently, producers are likely to invest in rigorous R&D (research & development) for fulfilling the specific demands of various end-use industries. For example, Orion Engineered Carbons recently announced that it will launch its new range of products – conductive Specialty Carbon Black XPB 633 BEADS, with conductivity and anti-static properties, specially developed for their application in thermoplastics.
In addition, the omnipresent hallmark of specialty carbon black is proven to be advantageous at all stages of the commodity value chain. Eventually, manufacturers are likely to rely on the delivery of uniform product quality and consistent value-added services on a global level for target customers.
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