Dow Corning Corp.'s recent purchase of compounder Multibase SA is producing results in the form of TPSiV, a specialty thermoplastic elastomer that's being produced at Multibase's plant in Copley, Ohio.
TPSiV is a thermoplastic silicone vulcanizate that Dow Corning began to develop in 1999. The May acquisition gave Dow Corning the capacity needed to commercialize the product, Multibase officials said in a recent interview in Akron.
TPSiV had been tested in pilot runs at Dow Corning's Midland, Mich., facility late last year, with full commercial production commencing in Copley in mid-2002. The material is being aimed at seals, gaskets, hoses, grips and handles in a number of markets including automotive, sports and leisure, furniture and domestic appliances.
Four grades of TPSiV currently are commercial: a nylon-based, flexible grade and three ``silky touch'' grades based on a proprietary thermoplastic. All TPSiV grades are plasticizer-free and offer excellent high-temperature performance, officials said.
``We're looking at [TPSiV] as a material that could replace thermoset rubber and close gaps in the performance of other TPEs like thermoplastic vulcanizates and thermoplastic polyurethanes,'' Multibase global marketing manager Fernando Cuccioli said.
TPSiV already is being used in overmolding on ABS/acrylic styrene acrylonitrile seals on some 2003-model vehicles, but Cuccioli declined to provide details of those projects.
``We don't want to be a knock-off or a `me-too' product that's used in blends,'' commercialization and development manager Jun Liao said. ``We want to provide a true high-performance material to the market.''
If TPSiV's market launch is successful, Multibase can add production at plants in St.-Laurent-du-Pont, France, where the unit is headquartered, and Daman, India.
TPSiV is selling for between $4.50 and $6 per pound, but Multibase North American manager Andre Fritz said he doesn't think the price will discourage processors looking for superior performance.
``In this type of [economic] environment, everyone's looking for cost reduction,'' he said. ``We're getting more sample requests now than ever because people want to lower their overall cost through higher performance.''
Multibase operates 15 extrusion lines and 50 million pounds of annual capacity in Copley, where it employs 100.