Nova Chemicals Inc. has commercialized its Styrosun-brand specialty polystyrene into injection molded door-light frames.
Pittsburgh-based Nova acquired the Styrosun product as part of its 1999 buy of Shell Chemicals' European PS business. Shell had sold Styrosun in Europe since the late 1970s, but the material did not debut in North America until Nova began marketing it in mid-2002.
Styrosun is a form of high-impact PS where ethylene propylene diene monomer replaces butadiene as a feedstock in order to provide improved resistance to ultraviolet light.
In Europe, Styrosun had been used in trim on recreational vehicles as well as in satellite dishes, but in North America, the product may be finding a home in the housing market, said Holly Wilson, durables marketing director for Nova's styrenics business.
Styrosun's performance is what drove Champion Injection Molding Inc. of Warren, Ohio, to begin using the material in its door-light frames in December. The firm had been using filled polypropylene for that application, but found that Styrosun was less abrasive, resulting in less wear and tear on its injection molding machines, Champion President Ron Lewkowitz said.
``The industry's requirements [for door-light frames] have been changing,'' Lewkowitz said. ``It's driven by the box stores, like Lowe's and Home Depot, that want a product that doesn't cost more but offers better performance. They want a product that will stay white when exposed to sunlight and that has great impact strength and good heat resistance.''
Filled PP also proved difficult to paint, while standard PS grades would yellow from sun exposure, Lewkowitz added.
Champion posted sales of $4.2 million in 2003. The firm employs 45 and operates 11 injection presses in a 200,000-square-foot facility. Champion shares its site with RSL Inc., a door-light maker also owned by Lewkowitz.
Styrosun also is being targeted at outdoor signage, lawn irrigation systems and truck air deflectors, Wilson said. Nova produces Styrosun at a plant in Breda, the Netherlands, and has no plans at present to add North American production.