Lucite International Inc., the world’s largest single producer of Methyl Methacrylate, is five months into rationing the critical coatings chemical to customers worldwide and will continue to do so indefinitely, a company spokeswoman says.
Lucite manufactures 25% of the global supply of MMA, a key component in traffic paint and many other industrial and consumer coatings.
Lucite began rationing MMA on June 1, due primarily to a combination of problems at its Memphis, TN, production facility. The company also declared a Force Majeure, a contract clause that relieves a party of liability if it is unable to perform its obligations in cases of natural disaster or other factors outside the company’s control.
Lucite lifted the Force Majeure later in the summer, but it continues to ration supplies to customers around the world.
The company “is and will remain in an allocation mode on MMA, due to the strong demand in the Americas region as well as across the other regions of the world,” company spokeswoman Hannah Sloane told PaintSquare News last week.
The Memphis plant is back to running at full capacity, Sloane said. But demand continues to outstrip supply, and Lucite “cannot determine how long the allocation protocols will be required to remain in place,” Sloane said.
Road Project Delays
The MMA shortage in the spring coincided with a shortage of Titanium Dioxide, another critical raw material in many types of coatings, including acrylic-based highway paint. The combination delayed road painting, marking and maintenance projects by Departments of Transportation and private contractors throughout the U.S and around the world.
The TiO2 supply has since recovered, but manufacturers are now reporting shortages of thermoplastics, another key component in yellow and white line marking coatings.