GLS Corp. is looking to expand its presence in the consumer products market with a trio of new thermoplastic elastomer materials introduced at NPE 2003.
``These are grades that can take GLS into the higher end of the consumer product marketplace,'' GLS marketing director Walt Ripple said. ``Ten years ago, we were more focused on styrenic block copolymers and alloys, but now we've really expanded out.''
Two of the new products build on partnerships that McHenry, Ill.-based GLS recently formed with DSM Thermoplastic Elastomers and BASF Corp.
The DSM deal has resulted in the 8000 series of Versalloy-brand thermoplastic vulcanizate alloys, which GLS officials said can provide better performance in products such as hand tools and lawn and garden products. The 8000 series is the second broad GLS/DSM product launch since the firms began working together in late 2001.
Production of the materials began last month, with full commercialization expected by the end of the year, Ripple said.
Three new rubberized urethane grades of Versollan-brand thermoplastic polyurethane alloys have surfaced as a result of last year's GLS/BASF deal, which called for joint product development of alloys based on BASF's TPU line.
Ripple said the new Versollan grades - targeted at soft-touch grip uses - offer setup times that are 20-30 percent quicker than competing materials. Production of the grades began early this year at GLS's McHenry plant.
The third new GLS material is a gellike grade of its Versaflex-brand TPE alloys. The new grade is based on a styrenic block copolymer, although other Versaflex products can be based on TPVs or TPUs.
The new grade is being billed as one of the softest injection moldable TPEs in the industry. It can be molded as a stand-alone product or overmolded onto substrates.
``The new Versaflex feels like a pourable gel, but it comes in free-flowing pellets,'' Ripple said. ``Customers who want a nice, soft gel padding love this stuff.''
The grade is being aimed at gel inserts for bicycle saddles, shoe sole inserts, furniture armrests and keyboard wrist pads. Production began earlier this year in McHenry.
Although many materials makers have struggled recently, Ripple said GLS expects to post double-digit sales and volume growth again in 2003. The firm's compounding-related sales were estimated at $140 million last year.