Eastman Chemical Co. envisions a high-tech future for its Titan-brand liquid crystal polymer and Thermx-brand polycyclohexylenedimethylene terephthalate resins.
With its 6.6 million-pound-capacity LCP plant opening in Kingsport last year, Eastman is positioned to take on other LCP makers, such as market leader Ticona. Previously, Eastman had allowed tolling firms to make its LCP, but took the job in-house to control its supply situation, said Paul Flynn, electrical, electronics and automotive business market manager.
New telecommunication-connector work has been coming Eastman's way, in part because of increased availability and lower prices on flat-panel computer displays, Flynn said.
Although the global LCP market dipped about 30 percent last year, it had averaged 20 percent growth in the four years before. The likelihood of a return to that growth is giving Eastman hope it can expand its 5 percent global market share.
Thermx is similar to a high-temperature polybutylene terephthalate resin, with faster cycle times. It has made recent inroads in electrical/electronic applications such as motherboards and computer connectors, Flynn added.
In automotive, Eastman has beefed up its Detroit staff in recent years to help move Thermx into under-the-hood applications including transmissions and housings.
``The automotive market is completely changing, with more and more electrical components,'' Flynn said. ``That's leading [original equipment manufacturers] and automakers to look beyond nylon to PBT and other products.''