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Freudenberg-NOK completes urethane capacity expansion

By: Chris Sweeney
RUBBER & PLASTICS NEWS

June 24, 2014

Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies GmbH & Co. has completed a capacity expansion at its facility in Schwalmstadt, Germany, to support the development of its new polyurethane line.

The firm said over the past year it has invested more than $6.5 million at Schwalmstadt, including $5.2 million for a raw material production facility to manufacture the new polyurethane. Materials produced at the plant are used throughout Freudenberg-NOK's network of manufacturing plants.

The Schwalmstadt site consists of about 4,700 square feet of production space. In addition to polyurethanes, it produces hydraulic and pneumatic seals used in fluid power applications.

Mathias Burkert, a product manager for Freudenberg, said the latest expansion doubled Schwalmstadt's annual capacity to 600 tons.

The extra capacity will be added through automation, he said, as the firm developed and installed new equipment over the last year. The new line began operating within the last month and gives Freudenberg the ability to develop and manufacture polyurethane at Schwalmstadt rather than purchase components from outside sources.

The German facility ships the polyurethane for production in the American and Asian markets. The firm's facility in Troy, Ohio, and its plant near Shanghai are capable of processing the material.

Both the Troy and Schwalmstadt plants produce components using compression, transfer and injection molding processes.

“We're trying to establish a global standard,” Burkert said. “Wherever you process the material, it has the same characteristics. You always have potential influence by the local ingredient supply. So if you manufacture the material in a central place, the characteristics of that material are not modified by any local ingredients.”

Freudenberg-NOK introduced its new polyurethane earlier this year. The firm said the material can be used in temperatures as low as -35°C and as high as 120°C. Seals made from the material stay flexible at low temperatures and sufficiently stable at high temperatures, the company said.

Burkert said sales and acceptance of the new material have been great thus far and that the firm expects it to facilitate growth worldwide.

“The response was very good,” he said. “There is a need to have an increased performance in these materials. Usually the testing period is several months, up to even years, because you want to see how it performs in climate change. We've had positive feedback from customers who've done the short test on it. So it's going well.”

Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies is the Americas joint venture between Freudenberg and Co. and NOK-Corp. in Japan. Freudenberg-NOK produces advanced sealing technologies for markets including aerospace, agriculture, appliance, automotive, construction, diesel engine, energy, food and beverage, heavy industry and pharmaceutical.