Noveon Inc., a specialty plastics maker and compounder, is expanding the limits of its Estane-brand thermoplastic polyurethanes with a series of new grades aimed at profiles, tubing, and wire and cable uses.
New grades of Estane ETE (Easy To Extrude) can increase throughput by 10-30 percent and allow TPUs to compete with nylon 11 and 12 and copolyesters, according to senior market manager Elliott Pritikin.
The ETE line was first commercialized in late 2002, but rapid acceptance prompted Brecksville, Ohio-based Noveon to add several more grades in 2003, Pritikin said in a June 24 interview.
Fast-molding grades of Estane can reduce cycle times by 20-40 percent. The new products already have been used to make golf spikes.
The newest Estane branch is its high moisture vapor transmission (HMVT) line, which produces breathable films that are being tested in medical gloves and ski apparel.
Noveon also is using technology acquired in its 2002 purchase of French TPU maker Gemoplast SA to produce TPU/polyolefin alloys, which can be based on polyester or polyether.
One of the more unique Estane applications has been the use of a TPU-based film to make a lightweight kayak for FirstLight Kayaks of Christchurch, New Zealand. The sheet - made by Stevens Urethane of Holyoke, Mass. - comprises the body of the kayak, which can be folded down into a backpack-sized pack. The whole product weighs about 20 pounds.
Noveon produces TPU at plants in Avon Lake, Ohio, and Oevel, Belgium. The firm's specialty materials unit also makes chlorinated PVC and cross-linked polyethylene. Specialty materials account for about 40 percent of Noveon's sales, which totaled about $1 billion last year.
Noveon, which was spun off from BFGoodrich Co. in late 2000, announced in mid-2002 that it planned to go public with a stock offering. But the firm, which now is owned by AEA Investors Inc. of New York, has taken no further action in that area.
In the first quarter of 2003, Noveon's profits dropped almost 38 percent to $5.3 million - compared to the year-ago period -even though sales climbed almost 9 percent to $282.3 million. Pretax income in specialty chemicals dropped 3 percent as sales grew 7 percent.