Spanish polyurethanes maker Merquinsa (Booth E14308) is increasing its thermoplastic PU capacity in Barcelona and also has opened a TPU sales unit in North America.
By the end of the year, the firm's Barcelona plant will be cranking out about 44 million pounds of TPU annually. Production of polyester used as a raw material in TPU production also is being increased to about 33 million pounds a year.
Merquinsa's Barcelona site is being expanded by 4,000 square feet to accommodate these expansions, as well as to offer more room for warehousing and process control laboratories.
The North American sales office opened in late 1999 in Mohegan Lake, N.Y. Merquinsa has been exporting material to the United States for about 10 years and currently generates about 10 percent of its sales here. U.S. sales have been growing at a rate of between 10 percent and 15 percent, according to Louis Esposito, the firm's North American sales manager.
Merquinsa's big marketing push in North America is focused on replacing PVC in auto interiors, particularly in slush-molded instrument panel skins. Esposito said Merquinsa's TPUs offer an alternative to PVC that can be molded on the same equipment used to slush-mold PVC.
Other markets and applications using Merquinsa's TPUs include wire and cable, industrial belting, food handling equipment and cast film. The resins typically sell for between $2.25 and $3 per pound.
TPUs accounted for less than 20 percent of Merquinsa's 1999 sales, which totaled about $45 million, but Esposito said the business is growing at a rapid pace. Merquinsa employs about 250 in Barcelona.