Conditions of Supply and Demand
This chapter provides background information about the environment of the U.S. man-made fibers industry. Its two sections examine the conditions of the supply of man-made fibers since 1948, including economic features of the production technologies involved, and the demand determinants.
Four issues were found to particularly affect the supply of U.S. man-made fibers. In order of discussion, those are production technology, raw materials, labor, and product durability.
Man-made fiber production has but a few basic steps according to recognized authorities [ Corbman, 333-496; Inderfurth, 1-12; Moncrieff, 157-701; and Press, 50-91]. Those basic steps are mixing ingredients; reacting the mixture to form a monomer, the basic compound from which a polymer is formed; polymerization, or linking the monomer into a long chain molecule; extruding the polymer as a fiber or fiber spinning; and winding the fiber onto a package. These steps become complex in practice. Over ten variables have to be controlled and coordinated. There usually is at least one alternative to any selected fiber-spinning process, with often subtle, hard to evaluate but important economic and technical trade-offs. Essential secondary steps were omitted from this capsule description to emphasize the major features common to all man-made fiber production technology except for fiberglass, which is not a polymer. Because those secondary steps can crucially