Published December 2020
Acrylic fibers are synthetic fibers made from the polymer polyacrylonitrile (PAN), which contains at least 85% by weight of the monomer acrylonitrile. Modified acrylic fibers, in which the acrylonitrile monomer content is less than 85% but at least 35%, are referred to as modacrylic fibers. In modacrylic fibers, the remaining 15–65% consists primarily of halogenated comonomers that impart a high degree of flame retardancy to the fibers. Acrylic staple fiber accounts for virtually 100% of the acrylic fiber produced. Continuous filament fiber is used mainly for conversion to carbon fibers.
Acrylic fibers are more suited than modacrylic for processing into high-bulk yarns. Fabrics produced from acrylic yarns are lightweight and resilient and generally have warmth and softness similar to wool. Acrylic fibers possess an aesthetic appeal enhanced by their ability to accept dyes of both clear, bright colors and subdued, muted tones. They have excellent resistance to ultraviolet degradation, microbiological attack, weak alkalis, and laundry bleach.
During the past 10 years, acrylic fibers have progressively lost market share to polyester fibers. In 2020, supply and demand for almost every region has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Markets in the Americas, including North, Central, and South America, were affected more than markets in Europe and Asia.
Because of declining demand, the global acrylic fiber industry has undergone major restructuring and capacity rationalizations. The largest capacity is concentrated in Asia, particularly in mainland China, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of total Asian capacity.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of acrylic fibers:
In spite of its large production capacity, mainland China is still not yet self-sufficient in acrylic fiber supply. Imports in 2025 are expected to be almost the same as imports in 2016 because the mainland Chinese acrylic fiber differential rate is still catching up to demand.
Other regions in Northeast Asia, such as Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, have all experienced double-digit declines in both production and consumption in 2019 compared to 2010. In 2020, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected consumption in Japan more than in South Korea and Taiwan.
Although the pandemic has also caused double-digit supply and demand declines in the Indian Subcontinent during 2019–20, this region experienced healthy growth for both production and consumption between 2010 and 2019.
Overall in 2020, acrylic fiber consumption will decline from the 2019 level because of the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy as well as on acrylic fiber end-use industries such as the garment and home furnishing industries. Global consumption growth between 2020 and 2025 will increase slightly due to partial recovery after consumption hit bottom in 2020. Between 2021 and 2025, only the United States, India, and Indonesia are forecast to see modest consumption growth. Consumption growth for these regions will not be enough to support global market growth in the coming years. As a result, very limited growth in global acrylic fiber consumption is expected in the next five years.
For more detailed information, see the table of contents, shown below.
IHS Markit’s Chemical Economics Handbook – Acrylic and Modacrylic Fibers is the comprehensive and trusted guide for anyone seeking information on this industry. This latest report details global and regional information, including
IHS Markit’s Chemical Economics Handbook – Acrylic and Modacrylic Fibers has been compiled using primary interviews with key suppliers and organizations, and leading representatives from the industry in combination with IHS Markit’s unparalleled access to upstream and downstream market intelligence and expert insights into industry dynamics, trade, and economics.
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