CHICAGO — Dow Chemical Co. is expanding its efforts in specialty grades of polystyrene and polypropylene.
Dow plans to add production of its Styron A-Tech-brand enhanced PS at plants in Joliet, Ill., and Sarnia, Ontario, by the end of the year, according to Jeff Denton, senior marketing manager for Dow's North American PS business.
The materials currently are produced in Midland, Mich., and Torrance, Calif., as well as at Dow sites in Hong Kong, Brazil and Colombia.
Dow also will introduce three new grades of Styron A-Tech by the end of the year — two for the packaging market and one aimed at large appliances.
"Our strategy hasn't changed — we're still pushing forward with a broad platform of resins," Denton said. "We were more on the durable side when we started the platform, but now we've got a sprinkling in several markets."
Styron A-Tech PS continues to sell for a premium of between 2 and 8 cents per pound over standard PS. Recent applications include refrigerator liners for Maytag and dehumidifier housings for W.C. Wood.
Both Styron A-Tech and a new ignition-resistant grade of Dow's standard Styron-brand PS are making inroads in TV housings, according to Taro Fukuzaki, consumer electronics market development manager for Dow's PS unit.
A-Tech is being used in larger TV housings that require thinner walls, while the new ingnition-resistant grade should find a home in more standard housings.
"A-Tech has given us more power to work with customers such as Sony," Fukuzaki said. "And it's given our customers more freedom to design better products."
In PP, Dow will launch production of its Inspire-brand enhanced PP next week at its BSL plant in Schkopau, Germany, according to Carlos Ruiz, global new business development manager for Dow's PP unit. The enhanced PP was first made at a Dow plant in South Africa in December.
Inspire PP, made using Dow's Insite single-site catalyst technology, offers superior processing speed as well as downgauging possibilities in film, Ruiz said.
The initial focus for the product will be in blown films and in applications such as heavy-duty shipping sacks, pet food packaging and bakery wrap.
Inspire materials also can be made at Dow's first North American PP plant, a 500 million-pound-per-year facility that is set to open in Freeport, Texas, in December.
Inspire is being sold at a premium over standard PP, but Ruiz said it is expected to compete more with other high-performance resins than with other grades of PP.