DETROIT — Spurred by growth in the automotive and electrical/ electronic markets, DSM Engineering Plastics will add 20 million pounds of compounding capacity in Evansville, Ind., and Stoney Creek, Ontario, this month.
Evansville-based DSM, which announced the expansions at SAE '98, held Feb. 23-26 in Detroit, added a new twin-screw extrusion line in Evansville in early February and will add a similar line in Stoney Creek in mid-March. Additional capacity will be gained by debottlenecking existing lines.
The new compounding capacity, which is a $5 million investment, will focus on the firm's Akulon-brand nylon 6 and Stanyl- brand nylon 4/6, DSM's Steve Hartig said at the show. Hartig is vice president of marketing, sales, research and development.
``Half of our growth has been in automotive,'' Hartig said. ``What we're seeing now is the mainstreaming of plastic materials. When you see an instrument panel, you're not saying, `Metal or plastic?' You're saying, `Which plastic do you use?'''
In the United States and Europe, automotive constitutes a third of DSM's business. Electrical/electronics makes up another third, with the final third split among a variety of markets.
DSM also is on track to open a 30 million pound-per-year nylon 6 facility in Augusta, Ga., later this year.
In other news, Hartig discussed DSM's most recent move into Asian markets, a joint venture it formed with Kohap Engineering Plastics of South Korea in December. DSM holds 51 percent of the venture, which is intended to develop business for DSM's entire product range in Korea. DSM previously had announced joint ventures in Japan (nylon, polybutylene terephthalate, PET) and China (caprolactam) in 1997.
Also, Hartig said DSM's new flame-retardant, glass-reinforced grades of 4/6 nylon can reduce corrosion and prolong screw, barrel and tool life in making electrical/electronic components.
He added that DSM's Arnitel copolymer elastomer, with current North American sales of about 5 million pounds annually, may see a 40-50 percent sales hike this year. The product is used in automotive velocity joint boots.