By Frank Esposito, Plastics News Staff
Chigaco, Illinois -- A pair of recent acquisitions has opened up the world of injection moulding for the Estane Engineering Polymers business of Lubrizol Corp.
In the second half of 2008, Wickliffe, Ohio-based Lubrizol bought thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) businesses from Dow Chemical Co. and SK Chemicals.
The moves provided immediate diversification, said Dale Willis, Americas region business director for Estane.
"Historically, we had been strong in extruded film and sheet, but we were lacking in injection molding," Willis said at NPE 2009, held 22-26 June in Chicago.
"Now, when customers look at our portfolio, we have broad specifications and a lot of things we can do."
Dow's Pellethane and Isoplast materials give Lubrizol access to injection moulded medical devices, while the SK products offer high clarity and faster cycle times in industrial applications.
Some TPU production equipment will be transferred from a Dow plant in La Porte, Texas, to an as yet undecided Lubrizol location.
Lubrizol makes Estane at plants in Avon Lake, Ohio, and Wilmington, Massachusetts, and at overseas facilities in China, Belgium and Malaysia.
Since mid-2008, Lubrizol has commercialized new grades of Estane TPU that offer increased chemical resistance when exposed to ethanol or mineral spirits, and additional breathable grades for use in jacket linings and other film applications. Non-halogenated grades of Estane also now are available.
The struggling economy of 2009 has created chances for Estane to enter new markets, Willis said.
"The message we're sending is that this is a good opportunity," he said. "Last year, we couldn't get [new products] in because the market was so strong. But now, we're encouraging our customers to spend some time to do development so that they're ready when things improve."