CHICAGO — Predicting a future filled with growth opportunities for plastics, DuPont Co. (Booth S2411) introduced several resins at NPE 1997 and outlined more than $1.6 billion in new production investments the company made during the past three years. ``At DuPont, we believe this industry is young,'' said Craig G. Naylor, worldwide vice president of engineering polymers. ``It is being transformed in revolutionary ways by Information Age technology and related advances in molecular technology.''
The plastics industry will grow by providing customers with products that do more than simply replace metal and other materials, he said.
Successful plastics companies will produce goods that not only meet customer demands for quality and cost reduction, but also improve the function of goods through early involvement in the design and development process.
``The part-for-part replacement, by and large, that's been done,'' Naylor said. ``Now it's going to be systems integration.''
To keep pace with strong demand for engineering-grade plastics, DuPont has invested more than $600 million in new resin production facilities and more than $1 billion in feedstock production since the last NPE in 1994.
Automotive, appliance and electrical/electronics markets have been particularly strong.
In the past five years, DuPont's automotive plastics business, now with sales of more than $1 billion annually, has been growing at more than 10 percent per year. Nylon has been in high demand for under-the-hood components and electrical connectors, said Erik Fyrwald, director of automotive engineering materials.
The company summarized recent production expansions:
In January, two expansions in Europe were completed that added 66 million pounds per year for Crastin polybutylene terephthalate thermoplastic polyester in Germany and 64 million pounds of Delrin acetal resin in the Netherlands.
The company broke ground this month on a plant near Charleston, S.C., that will produce PBT for Crastin and Hytrel polyester elastomer.
North American capacity for Zytel nylon resins will be boosted by 30 percent with the startup of a new plant in Richmond, Va., in the fourth quarter.
Also in the fourth quarter, capacity will double for Vespel polyimide parts and shapes.
And late this year production of adipic acid, a nylon 6/6 feedstock, will start at a new plant in Singapore. Compounding expansions are under way in Argentina, China, India, Germany and the United States.
On the new product front, DuPont introduced the following resins:
A new Zytel HTN 52G that allows the molding of high-temperature nylon with the use of recirculating water for controlling the mold temperature. DuPont's 51G-series Zytel nylons require oil-circulating equipment to control mold temperatures.
Two new grades of glass-reinforced Delrin GR acetal. DuPont declined to discuss the nature of the glass reinforcement, which it said uses a proprietary process.
Two new grades of Delrin acetal Eleven were introduced with better mechanical properties and processing qualities.
For automotive connectors and other electrical parts, DuPont developed a new family of PBT resins under the Crastin HR name.
The company said the glass-reinforced resins show good retention of toughness and strength when subjected to high heat and humidity.
Zenite 3130L, a new liquid crystal polymer targeted for applications in thin-wall electrical connectors and other parts.