Chemtura has been expanding its low-free MDI Duracast product range with alternative curatives, said Stephen Lewis, business director, EMEA for Adiprene/Vibrathane.
Mark Moody, marketing manager, EMEA for Adiprene/Vibrathane, noted an important aspect of these materials: it meets the new labelling regulations for MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate), which changed in Europe last year.
If a product has below a threshold level of free MDI it can be labelled low-free. "We're one of the few companies able to supply those prepolymers in the right quality and quantity," Moody claimed.
The Duracast LF-MDI development "has enormous value," said Lewis, giving customers wider opportunity, different choices and technical benefits.
Chemtura is expanding in China, noted Matthew Hellstern, general manager/president urethanes, adding that expansion will continue in all regions - to offer local production and service.
Chemtura's new manufacturing site at Nantong in China is shared by all product lines, with a urethanes facility being built in 2013. This will start up in early 2014, to support customer demand there.
The Nantong facility complements an existing urethane facility in Nanjing and is "expanding not just capacity but also the capabilities in China, with an application development centre - which is a core concept in partnering the customers," said Hellstern.
Lewis said: "Some of the assets we are putting into Nantong are the advanced ones, for example the low-free TDI materials," the specialised products, which is where the markets are growing.
Customers in China are "becoming more demanding, expecting rapid response from the supply chain as well as technical support," Hellstern said. Their expectations are no different to those in developed regions, he emphasised.
Some of Chemtura's customers in China are also often global ones already making parts in Europe and the US, who want in China what they get everywhere else - the same high quality products, delivery and service. "So that's driving the speciality niche," Hellstern noted. There is a real shift toward higher-performing end products, and "for that you need technical support by highly qualified engineers to help solve those problems," he added.
Hellstern feels there are "many dynamics playing out in China right now, including the rapid maturation of the economy and slowing growth, as observed by other commentators. But he made the point that China's economy is still strong compared to some of the developed economies.