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Bluestar Silicones bringing liquid silicone rubber materials to US

By: Roger Renstrom

April 8, 2013

ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Bluestar Silicones offers new liquid silicone rubber products that offer high tear strength and high elongation for cushioning and vibration-damping applications such as medical masks and prosthetics.

With 1-durometer Shore A hardness, Silbione LSR 4301 was introduced during 2012 in Europe and is scheduled for use soon in the U.S. market. Other products with 5- and 10-durometer Shore A hardness are also new.

There are some driver applications in Europe, said Karen O'Keefe, health-care market manager with East Brunswick, N.J.-based Blue Silicones USA Corp. The business has 140 employees and is finding increased interest from the health-care and medical markets. Bluestar also makes silicones for film, paper, textile and personal-care uses.

"Bluestar was the only one with a 1-durometer [material]," said O'Keefe, who attended Medical Design & Manufacturing West, held Feb. 11-14 in Anaheim. "It took all of 2012 to develop" the commercial version.

Separately during 2012, Bluestar Silicones filed for patent protection on a silicone foam technology for health-care uses.

Consulting firm Frost & Sullivan recognized the technology with a 2012 European product differentiation award. The technology involves low-density, open-cell silicone foam for flexible and breathable applications that require durability.

The elastomeric Silbione RT foam is made from a two-component silicone system that is cured at room temperature.

In addition to soft LSR technologies, the business for health-care applications makes high-consistency rubber, room-temperature vulcanized silicones, skin-adhesive tacky gels, cushioning gels and permanent adhesives.

Bluestar Silicones USA conducts research and development and manufactures most of its health-care products at its 260,000-square-foot facility in York, S.C., which it acquired in September 2011. York County provided Bluestar with incentives including a 43 percent property tax reduction for 30 years, reimbursement for a portion of the personal withholding on each additional job and a credit applicable to income taxes, said Mark Farris, director of the York County Economic Development Board.

The plant is set up as a white room and could be converted to a clean room, O'Keefe said.

Worldwide operations for Bluestar Silicones are based in Lyon, France, and have annual sales of about $650 million. Bluestar Silicones reports within China National Bluestar (Group) Co. Ltd. of Beijing, a subsidiary of China National Chemical Corp.