Sunprene Co. has constructed what it claims is the world's largest compounding line for its PVC-based thermoplastic elastomers at its 8-year-old facility in Bellevue, Ohio. Sunprene, a partnership owned by A. Schulman Inc. and Mitsubishi Chemical MKV, started the line with the capacity to produce nearly 15 million pounds a year.
The company now can produce nearly 25 million pounds of the TPEs a year, according to A. Schulman President Larry A. Kushkin. Kushkin also is executive vice president for international automotive operations for Schulman.
Kushkin said he noted with irony some resin producers' pronouncements at recent conferences that their metallocene catalyst technologies will produce new polyolefin resins that will replace PVC in many applications.
``There they were, saying that, and here we are, one of the largest makers of PVC compounds, more than doubling the size of our plant,'' Kushkin said.
Kushkin said Sunprene's capacity has been sold out for more than a year, and demand continues to grow.
Sunprene Co. serves markets in North America, Kushkin said in a July 17 telephone interview from his office in Birmingham, Mich. Three other companies in Europe and Asia make Sunprene TPE products, he said.
The automotive market is a leading consumer of Sunprene compounds, he said. Applications include primary and secondary seals for doors, windows and trunk lids, boots for gear shifts and other applications that demand weatherability and molded-in colors with a variety of glosses, Kushkin said.
Other leading markets include architectural glass and industrial applications, Kushkin said. He noted that cable coating applications are growing in Europe.
Schulman, an international supplier of high-performance plastic compounds and resins based in Akron, Ohio, owns 70 percent of Sunprene Co. Mitsubishi Chem-ical MKV, a major, diversified chemical company based in Tokyo, owns the balance.
Separately, Schulman recently announced it intends to spend $6 million to add a new manufacturing line at its 10-month-old compounding facility in San Luis Potos¡, Mexico, and $4 million to replace a manufacturing line in Crumlin, Wales.
The new line in Mexico will have an annual capacity of 14 million pounds, and will serve markets in Mexico and the rest of Latin America. That line is scheduled to go into production in 1998.
In Wales, Schulman is replacing a line with a larger line that will have the capacity to produce 8 million pounds annually. That line is scheduled to go into production in the third quarter of 1997. The old line will be moved to a compouding facility in Seremban, Indonesia.