Chevron finishing PS plant expansion
MARIETTA, OHIO — Chevron Chemical Co. is nearing completion of a $58 million project to expand its Marietta polystyrene production plant.
The current expansion adds a ninth production line, raising capacity from 480 million pounds to 770 million pounds annually. Construction should be completed by July 31, according to spokesman Steve Studeny.
``Chevron is committed to becoming a bigger player in the polystyrene market,'' he said.
The plant was established in the mid-1950s by Union Carbide Corp.
The Marietta plant makes 37 grades of crystal and high-impact PS pellets, along with three grades of Valtra, Chevron's high-gloss, high-impact, enhanced-morphology PS, introduced about three years ago.
``Valtra can compete against lower-end ABS products,'' Studeny said. ``We are finding applications in telephones, floor care, medical and other appliances. Valtra is a high-impact plastic, with a high gloss.''
He said the company is exploring other applications for Valtra.
Besides its production lines, the Marietta facility includes a pilot plant for experiments, an applications laboratory, and a technology center.
Chevron sells its resins to companies that manufacture food packaging products, jewel boxes for compact discs, food trays for airlines, outside casings for videocassettes, cases for single-use cameras, and signs.
Lyondell chooses Texas for PE facility
HOUSTON — Lyondell Petrochemical Co. will build its previously announced, 440 million-pound high density polyethylene plant in Bay City, Texas, where it already produces 1.1 billion pounds of HDPE annually.
The new plant — scheduled to open in mid-1999 — will use the same multiple-reactor Nissan technology already in use at Lyondell's three existing HDPE lines at Bay City. That is the only North American facility to use this technology, according to Lyondell.
Houston-based Lyondell supplies high-molecular-weight HDPE film resins that are used primarily in grocery and merchandise carryout bags as well as industrial and consumer trash bags.
Spokesman David Harpole said Lyondell considers the Bay City operations to be more efficient than the company's 3.8 billion-pound ethylene facilities in Channelview, Texas.
DSM targets market for TP vulcanizates
GENK, BELGIUM — DSM Thermoplastic Elastomers BV said it plans to capture 20 percent of the world market for thermoplastic vulcanizates by 2000.
The Heerlen, Netherlands, company announced in late March that it had launched new capacity in Genk to make Sarlink TPV — its first capacity in Europe for that material. The Genk plant has capacity to make 11 million pounds of Sarlink per year.
The expansion takes the product's annual global capacity to 33 million pounds per year.
DSM expects the current 10 percent annual global growth rate for thermoplastic rubber to continue for several more years.
DSM already can produce 22 million pounds per year of Sarlink at its U.S. plant at Leominster, Mass.
The Dutch company is studying further expansion plans for the thermoplastic rubber product in Asia and Latin America.
DSM's thermoplastic rubber is a blend of plastic, commonly polypropylene, and vulcanized rubber. The material has the elastic properties of rubber but can be processed as a plastic by extruding, foaming, and injection and blow molding. Sarlink is used in applications including automotive window and door profiles, in construction for door and window seals and in the electrical and electronic sectors.
Overcapacity prompts Ashahi to raze facility
TOKYO—For the first time since 1983, a Japanese petrochemical facility was razed, when Asahi Chemical Industry Co. closed its polystyrene operation at its Kawasaki plant.
The 40-year-old plant, which had a capacity of 132 million pounds per year, was leveled, not merely closed. At the same time, Asahi is working to build new PS capacity in China.
The drastic action was a response to domestic overcapacity and the increasing importance of overseas markets. In the future, Asahi plans to earmark all domestic production for domestic markets.
Tokyo-based Asahi dominates the Japanese domestic market with a healthy 30 percent share. For the near term, it plans to continue to meet demand within Japan by increasing production at two other domestic plants, one in Kurahiki and another in Sodegaura.
To supply the Asian region, the firm will continue its sales joint venture with Dow Chemical Co., called Styron Asia Ltd. in Hong Kong. In addition, Asahi Chemical plans to construct a 264 million-pound-per-year facility in China as soon as possible.
The plant, another joint project with Midland, Mich.-based Dow, will produce PS for use in electronics components and insulation. The partners will invest nearly $80 million in the 50-50 joint venture, which will be in a Shanghai suburb.
When the facility comes on line in 1999 it will be China's largest PS producer.
Even today, China's demand for PS is about equal to Japanese domestic demand at about 2.6 billion pounds per year.
Sonics & Material to buy Tooltex Inc.
DANBURY, CONN.—Sonics & Material Inc. has signed a letter of intent to acquire Tooltex Inc.
Privately held Tooltex, based in Grove City, Ohio, manufactures and designs automated systems for assembly and decorating. Tooltex has worked closely with Sonics & Material for 15 years as a distributor.
Sonics & Material of Danbury manufactures equipment for ultrasonic, spin and vibration welding. It also makes ultrasonic liquid processors.
A Sonics & Material spokeswoman would not disclose any more details regarding the purchase or the Grove City plant.
Tradesco launches new R&D operation
REXDALE, ONTARIO — To expand its activities in the development of hot-runner systems and mold bases, Tradesco opened a new 23,000-square-foot research and development and manufacturing facility in Rexdale.
The facility cost $4.5 million and started production in late April.
The facility will manufacture larger boring mills, three- and five-axis machining centers and necessary support equipment. More technicians and personnel have been hired; however, a spokesman said that it is hard to tell how many were brought in because there was a lot of movement within the company.
Tradesco plans to increase test room capacity with four more injection molding machines for mold testing by the end of the year.