» Expansions: Covestro launches a new production line for prepolymers, Milliken to start production of PP clarifier plant in US ...
May 20, 2022
German materials firm Covestro has launched the production of Desmodur 15 prepolymers at its Spanish site of Barcelona. With this new production line, the company addresses the growing demand for its high-performance elastomers. "We are opening the new production unit for our Desmodur 15 prepolymers in Barcelona in parallel to the ongoing expansion of our NDI capacities in the Asia-Pacific region with the Map Ta Phut plant in Thailand," explains Thomas Braig, Head of Covestro Elastomers. "This new production unit will help us to support our customers’ growth in the cast polyurethanes high-end applications segment." The abbreviation NDI stands for naphthylene diisocyanate. "Thanks to this new production line, our Vulkollan® licensees, as Desmodur® 15 prepolymers processors, will be able to further develop their business," explains Abdel Arhzaf, Head of NDI-Vulkollan®. "Through these investments, we intend to support the demand for ultra-high-performance elastomers used for superior applications as e.g. in the material handling industry and also for a growing number of engineering applications." Combining the highest mechanical characteristics with dynamic load-bearing capacity, elastomers based on Desmodur 15 prepolymers are said to be one of the most powerful cast polyurethanes in the market, and also easy to process as conventional prepolymers. In other news, Milliken & Company will begin production at its new clarifier plant soon in Blacksburg, S.C. This significant additional capacity will address strong worldwide demand for clarified plastic products. The company, a global manufacturer with plastic additives and colorants expertise, says this new, world-class facility will increase production capacity of its Millad NX 8000 polypropylene clarifier by more than 50%. “This represents the largest clarifier plant investment in Milliken history,” said Cindy Boiter, president of Milliken’s Chemicals Business. “Engineering is complete, and we are in the process of commissioning the plant. When we launch production in the fall, it will allow us to address both current market needs and increasing demand for these products well into the future.”
“Global demand for Millad NX 8000 clarifier has grown at an 11% compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) for each of the past nine years,” added Boiter. “Global clarifier demand grew by 16% in just the past two years,” outstripping the growth rates for global polypropylene (PP) resin. “All regions have contributed to the growth of clarified PP, with Asia leading the way.”
A number of factors are driving this demand. Milliken’s own customer research underscores the importance of being able to clearly see the products they are buying. Millad NX 8000 provides close to glass-like clarity in PP packaging, which improves customer confidence during their buying process, especially for food products. This clarity enables brand owners to replace PET, polystyrene, polycarbonate and more with PP — shown by studies to be a more sustainable option. The current soaring energy prices, meanwhile, have also spiked interest in any resins or additives like this one, which can help converters to save energy during processing and improve production efficiency. As a result of these certified savings, brand owners using PP clarified with Millad NX 8000 ECO can display a UL Environmental Claim Validation label on their injection moulded parts. Polypropylene is not only lightweight and durable; it also is one of the least energy-intensive polymers to make and recycle compared to other clear polymers. “Brand owners and packaging producers are seeing how Millad NX 8000 can contribute to improved environmental and manufacturing results. It is one of the more important clarifier developments in recent memory,” said Global Vice President - Plastic Additives Wim Van de Velde. Additionally, the pandemic has dramatically altered many consumer habits, perhaps permanently, in the case of booming e-commerce and the growing popularity of food-delivery services. Thin-wall injection molded containers made using clarified PP – with their lightweight, durable and transparent characteristics – have proven to be a popular solution to packaging challenges facing both the e-commerce and food-service industries. “We don’t see that changing,” said Van de Velde. (IMA)