PolyOne Corp. is looking to expand its presence in higher-margin markets through a thermoplastic polyurethanes partnership with Spanish PU maker Merquinsa.
Under terms of the deal - which was announced Dec. 1 - Avon Lake, Ohio-based PolyOne will develop formulations for halogen-free, flame-retardant compounds based on TPUs provided by Merquinsa, which is based in Barcelona.
The first commercial products from the partnership should be produced by mid-2004 at PolyOne plants in Babastro, Spain; Suzhou, China; and Singapore, according to PolyOne thermoplastic elastomer product manager Marc Setzen.
The Merquinsa deal ``is a logical extension of [PolyOne's] product portfolio,'' Setzen said in a recent telephone interview from his office in Assesse, Belgium. The material will be sold under the OnFlex-U brand name. PolyOne already produces styrenic block copolymer TPEs under the OnFlex-S and Bergaflex brand names and thermoplastic vulcanizate TPEs under the OnFlex-V brand name.
The new materials, based on Merquinsa's Pearlthane-brand TPU technology, could be available in North America by late 2004, Setzen added. They will be used in cable sheathing and automotive wire, where increased abrasion resistance and oil resistance is needed. Other potential uses include power cable, hose and conveyor belts, cable jackets, hoses and profiles.
The agreement ``is a better way for [Merquinsa] to market our products, by dealing with a company that has a wide distribution network,'' said Louis Esposito, Merquinsa's North American business development manager.
Esposito said Merquinsa's North American sales are on track to grow more than 10 percent this year, primarily because of increased business in injection molded industrial parts, films and adhesives. The firm also opened a sales office in Hong Kong last year.
Merquinsa has more than 40 million pounds of annual TPU capacity in Barcelona, its sole production center. The privately held firm does not report sales figures, but industry estimates place the firm's annual sales at more than $50 million.
PolyOne ranks as North America's largest compounder with a market share of about 10 percent.