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500-issue milestone: Monitoring polyester and polyamides for over 40 years

December 22, 2021 | Jane Denny

Image shows the pages of a ChemFocus report published and printed in the year 2000

It doesn't stretch back to the 1939 unveiling of ladies’ stockings at the World's Fair in New York, nor to the time when Mancunian chemists spun out the UK's prototype polyesters two years later. But Tecnon OrbiChem’s chemical industry analysis has a stellar history nonetheless.

Archives place our insight at the heart of industry when the Calico Printers' Association of Manchester – and other now obscure chemical enterprises – were still building the industries that underpin the modern world.

The 500th Polyester & Intermediates ChemFocus issue – out this December – marks Tecnon OrbiChem’s presence in polyester markets at more than 41 years. In fact, that business-critical publication is established vintage...

"In this way, the first Px-DMT/PTA World Survey was

published in 1976 – just!"

Charles Fryer, Tecnon OrbiChem founder

That 41-plus year milestone for close monitoring of a market on a monthly basis is matched only by our Polyamide & Intermediates ChemFocus coverage – which also clocks up its 500th issue this month. All 500 issues have covered the entire supply chain from benzene through caprolactam to PA 6 fibres and resins, and at the same time through adipic acid and HMDA to PA 66 fibres and resins. ChemFocus has described market conditions, prices, and factors shaping the market monthly since end of the 1970s.

How it began

Image shows Tecnon OrbiChem founder and senior advisor Charles Fryer with his copy of the report that launched the firm into fibres and intermediates business intelligenceIt was the first Paraxylene-DMT-PTA World Survey for 1976 that launched the enterprise that became Tecnon OrbiChem into the fibres intermediates sector. Initially a joint venture between Parpinelli Tecnon, Italy and DeWitt, USA, Tecnon OrbiChem founder Charles Fryer – a senior advisor at the firm today – continued to produce the survey annually in subsequent years.

The multi-client subscription-based 283-page tome cost $6000 and was taken up – on a five-copy basis – by around 20 subscribers, Charles recalls. "I and my Parpinelli Tecnon colleagues had done quite a bit of work on paraxylene, DMT and PTA in 1976. We had a joint venture with US-based DeWitt and it was decided to publish a world survey on this topic. Wayne Feller and I spent the first three weeks of December 1976 in Houston working on it together and – as the JV company was registered in Switzerland – it had to be printed there.

"Bound by an end of year deadline, I was invited to spend a very enjoyable festive season in a Lugano hotel with my family to supervise the printing.

"In this way, the first Px-DMT/PTA World Survey was published in 1976 – just!," Charles adds. Px, DMT and PTA producers, and those aspiring to produce, plus a number of Japanese trading companies also subscribed.

"I believe Netherlands-based DSM was the first to place an order. A company not involved in the DMT or PTA business, but with a strong presence in fibre intermediates with its caprolactam and acrylonitrile business streams."

Image shows two pages from the now vintage report of Paraxylene-DMT-PTA World SurveyThe original Paraxylene-DMT-PTA World Survey for 1976 reads like a Who's Who? of the global chemical industry. Many of the operating companies listed no longer exist (click image to enlarge)

Communication through the years

Back at the beginning, we delivered issues first by post, then telex, then fax, then email, and today via our online data and business intelligence platform OrbiChem360. They have maintained their piercing insight and clarification of the dynamics at play in every corner of the chemicals supply chain, but today they can be accessed at our subscribers' convenience. 

Tecnon OrbiChem’s ChemFocus reports cover a number of chemical families. Our coverage for ethylene oxide (EO), monoethylene glycol (MEG) and derivatives goes back to1987. In fact, we clocked up our 403rd ChemFocus with the December edition, and this month's PET ChemFocus was our 302nd.

With that, we will be giving ourselves a well-earned rest and some mince pie treats until next week! We wish you all Happy Holidays!

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