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Invista considering US expansion

By: Frank Esposito

April 5, 2012

ORLANDO, FLA. (April 5, 6:30 p.m. ET) — Materials maker Invista unveiled a new grade of its Torzen-brand nylon 6/6 resin at NPE2012, and officials also commented on potential U.S. expansion plans.

The new material is being marketed as Torzen Marathon, and it aims to fill the gap between standard nylon 6/6 grades and higher-temperature nylons, engineering polymers executive vice president Kurt Burmeister said during a press event.

“There was a need for an improved temperature range,” he added. Torzen Marathon “can withstand high temperatures better than other types of nylon 6/6. It broadens the process window and gives 40-50 percent improvement in flow.”

Burmeister also said customers can use Torzen Marathon with tools that already have been cut for existing grades of nylon 6/6. The material now is being sampled by several customers for applications in the automotive and electrical/electronic sectors.

Wichita, Kan.-based Invista also is looking at expansion plans in the southeastern United States, where it already operates plants in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Camden, S.C. Burmeister said expansion could take the form of additional capacity at an existing site or through an acquisition.

He added that Invista – which claims to be the world’s largest nylon 6/6 maker – also is looking at potential acquisitions in Europe. The firm already has existing or contract manufacturing there in France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Burmeister declined to provide specifics, but he said that since 2009, Invista has increased its number of employees, expanded its product portfolio and grown its customer base. “We’re working with compounders around the world and increasing in-house capacity as well,” he said.

In the overall nylon 6/6 market, Burmeister said that global demand growth should range from 2-4 percent for the next few years. North America also is seeing a growing advantage in the form of an energy advantage from new natural gas discoveries and a potential lbor cost advantage in Mexico vs. China.

A Chinese plant also is in the works for Invista in Shanghai, where the firm will make nylon 6/6 intermediates and resins. A groundbreaking for the new plant is expected in early 2013. Plans for the plant originally were announced in 2007, but it was delayed by a slowdown in the global economy.

Invista is owned by manufacturing conglomerate Koch Industries of Wichita. The firm exited the commodity PET business in 2010 when it sold its production units to Indorama Ventures Public Co. Ltd. Later that year, Invista settled three lawsuits with DuPont Co. covering polymer technology, adiponitrile feedstock technology and disputes related to supply agreements. The disputes dated back to 2004, when Koch Industries bought the Invista fibers business from Wilmington-based DuPont.

At NPE2012, Burmeister said that Inivista no longer has any production restrictions on its materials.