Lanxess Starts US Plastics Compounding Line

Germany’s Lanxess has started up its second compounding line for the high-performance plastics PA and PBT at its Gastonia, North Carolina, site in the US. The investment of around $15 million doubles compounding capacity to 40,000 t/y.

In the facility, the base polymers are mixed and refined with special additives and glass fiber, according to client specifications. The engineering plastics marketed as Durethan and Pocan are used primarily in the automotive industry to manufacture lighter-weight plastic components that can replace metal parts.

“This investment shows our strengthened focus on high-performance compounds and underlines our strategy to shift this business towards higher-value-added markets,” said Hubert Fink, member of the Lanxess managing board, adding that the expansion at Gastonia also shows the company’s commitment to North America as a major growth region.

Over the next few years, Lanxess said it plans to invest an additional €50-100 million to support organic growth in its high-performance plastics business, further balancing capacities in its polyamide value chain and driving the globalization of its engineering plastics business.

The German company expects global demand for engineering plastics in automotive applications to grow by 7% annually on average to 2020, driven by rising car production and the trend toward more fuel-efficiency. “The US automotive sector remains strong, and the demand for engineering plastics in cars is growing,” said Antonis Papadourakis, CEO of US-based Lanxess Corporation.

Lanxess said its business unit High Performance Materials, part of the Performance Polymers segment, is “highly backward integrated” in the value chain, producing precursors for its high-performance plastics, including glass fiber for reinforced PA and PBT compounds as well as the caprolactam starting material for PA 6.

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