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Asia-focused DSM highlights diverse applications

By: Robert Grace

June 13, 2013

GUANGZHOU, CHINA — Officials of DSM Engineering Plastics talked about their Asian investments and detailed several diverse materials applications during a media briefing in Guangzhou on May 20 at Chinaplas.

Michael Koch, the unit’s Asia Pacific president, said Netherlands-based parent Royal DSM NV reported sales in China last year of $1.7 billion and aims to boost that to $3 billion by 2015. The group, which began trading with China in 1963, currently employs about 3,500 in the country, has 40 affiliates and operates 26 manufacturing sites there. Koch estimated that DSM will invest $1 billion in research and development in China between 2011 and 2015.

As for current projects, Koch provided capacity numbers for the first time for its previously reported expansion of the firm’s polymerization and compounding plants in Jiangyin. Due online next year, the project will double capacity to 400,000 metric tons, or about 882 million pounds. The firm also is currently doubling capacity at its caprolactam facilities in Nanjing, and Koch said DSM “is looking to partner with firms so we can increase our captive use of caprolactam.”

In addition, the company recently opened its first application development center for engineering plastics in Japan (in Yokohama), and said that by next year it will add a technical services center in Pune, India, alongside its manufacturing plant there. And it is planning to open a technical center in Nanjing in 2014.

DSM Engineering Plastics last year moved its global headquarters to Singapore, emphasizing the unit’s emphasis on Asia. Koch also said his group is still in “intensive discussions” with Chengdu-based polyphenylene sulfide resin maker China Lumena New Materials Corp. about jointly marketing some engineering plastics and jointly developing alloys of PPS and nylon 4/6. But, said Koch, there is nothing to announce yet.

Officials also highlighted recent electrical/electronics, automotive, flexible food packaging and consumer goods applications. Among them:

  •  Zhenjiang, China-based Jiangsu Phono Electric Co. Ltd. is the first company to select DSM’s engineering plastics to replace thermosets in a molded-case circuit breaker with an open-arc chamber. MCCBs are heavy-duty circuit breakers typically used in industrial and commercial applications, and they operate at far higher electrical ratings than comparable residential products. DSM said its resins offer both performance and aesthetic advantages over the bulk molding compounds traditionally used in this demanding application. It estimates that system cost savings of 10-15 percent are feasible. The materials used include Stanyl-brand nylon 4/6 and halogen-free, fire-resistant grades of Akulon nylon 6 and 66.
  •  German automaker Mercedes-Benz has chosen a high-performance nylon made largely from renewable resources for the engine beauty cover on the turbo-powered, gasoline-engine versions of its new A-Class cars. DSM said about 70 percent of the raw materials used to make the nylon 410 in its EcoPaXX Q-HGM24 reinforced compound come from the castor plant. Operating temperatures can reach 200° C, or 392° F, and the cover must be lightweight and yet still able to resist high dynamic loads from engine vibrations. This application marks the first time that EcoPaXX grade has been used for high-volume mass production. BPP Kunststoffwerk Marbach Baier GmbH built the production tooling and supplies the molded engine cover to Mercedes.
  •  ETM Engineering Technologie Marketing GmbH of Saalburg-Ebersdorf, Germany, became the first company to deliver extrusion-blow-molded serial air ducts made from DSM’s Stanyl Diablo OCD 2305 BM, a special heat-stabilized grade of Stanyl nylon 4.6. It produced the hot-charge air ducts for Volkswagen, and claims a significant cost benefit compared to polyphenylene sulfide due to the nylon’s lower weight and scrap rate. DSM claims a part weight reduction of 7 percent vs. PPS.
  •  Special grades of DSM’s Akulon nylon 6 are finding use in fuel tanks for vehicles and appliances with small engines, such as recreational vehicles, small tractors and lawn and garden equipment. The tanks, molded in Akulon Fuel Lock, conform to the toughest evaporative-emission standards in the world, the resin maker said. “Fuel tanks in Akulon Fuel Lock are already being produced in China for Kohler engines used on lawn mowers supplied to the U.S. market,” according to Noble Zhang, general manager for Kohler China.