NEW YORK - After a global realignment of its polymers businesses, Hoechst Celanese announced March 26 it is increasing production capacities for its acetal, polyphenylene sulfide and liquid crystal polymer resins. Meanwhile, Bernd Sassenrath, head of Hoechst's $1.5 billion Technical Polymers division, said at a New York press conference he expects the combination of Hoechst's and 3M Corp.'s fluoropolymer businesses to give new impetus to that business.
Hoechst and 3M are combining the units in a joint venture that is to be formed by the end of June. A name has not been chosen, but Sassenrath said the business will be launched with annual sales of $350 million. It will be based in Minneapolis.
Carl Amond, who recently was named general manager for Hoechst's global polyacetal/nylon business unit, said Hoechst be-lieves demand for acetal resins is growing at a rate of 4 percent in the United States and in the Asia/Pacific region of the world, and at a rate of 3.5 percent in Europe.
To meet that demand, Amond said Hoechst added 16 million pounds of U.S. capacity, while adding 48 million pounds of capacity in Europe and Japan, on its own or through its ventures with other companies. He did not reveal Hoechst's total production capacity for acetal.
Hoechst is planning to add another 30 million pounds of acetal capacity in the United States and 34 million pounds in Europe, Amond said.
``We recognize the need to balance supply and demand regionally, so we will likely add more capacity in the Far East by the turn of the century,'' Amond said, adding that an exact amount of such an expansion has not been determined yet.
Amond said the greatest growth in demand for acetal is from the automotive industry.
Separately, Ben Catanzaro, vice president and general manager for Hoechst's Performance Poly-mers business unit, said the company is debottlenecking its 2-year-old PPS production facility in Wilmington, N.C.
Hoechst will increase that facility's capacity by 50 percent by the end of 1997, Catanzaro said. It was built with 8 million pounds of annual capacity.
Because Hoechst expects de-mand to increase by 10-15 percent for the next four years, Ca-tanzaro said it is considering building another PPS facility be-fore 2000. He could not provide more information on that proposed facility. He also noted that last month Hoechst put a 6.2 million pound liquid crystal polymer plant into production in Fuji City, Japan, through its affiliate, Poly-plastics Ltd.
``The new plant complements domestic LCP production at our manufacturing facility in Shelby, N.C.,'' Catanzaro said, adding that Hoechst also expects to increase its markets and applications for LCP resins through a new marketing agreement with Amoco Chem-ical Co. of Chicago.
Under that agreement, Hoechst will distribute LCP resins made by Amoco and will use Amoco's polymers to develop new LCP products, he said.
Sassenrath noted that Hoechst rearranged its global organizational structure recently into four product-related groups: Poly-acetal/Nylon, Performance Poly-mers, Fluoropolymers and ``GUR.'' GUR is responsible for Hoechst's ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene products.