DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY (Nov. 24, 2:05 p.m. EST) — Textiles giant Milliken & Co. has a new product for the plastics market, a polypropylene-based thermoplastic composite.
“This is our first material that goes into the plastics world as a plastics product,” growth strategist Todd Kleman said in an interview at K 2004 in Dusseldorf.
The new product from Spartanburg, S.C.-based Milliken starts out as tape yarn and can be woven into fabric, compressed into rigid sheet or molded into parts. Commercial production is set to begin in January at plants in Pine Mountain, Ga., and Ghent, Belgium.
Potential markets for the new material — referred to as MFT, since it is made through Milliken's patented moldable fabric technology — include automotive, where its light weight and strength could find homes in panels, walls, flooring or underbody shields, according to business development director John Lever.
In sporting goods, MFT can be used in kayaks and canoes. Possible military uses include body armor and door reinforcement.
Officials said MFT offers better cold-temperature resistance than standard PP. It is also recyclable and safer to handle than glass-filled composites, they said.
MFT “doesn't break apart,” Kleman said. “It can stand up to hammer blows and to extremely abusive environments.”
Milliken's previous exposure to the plastics market had been through additives such as antimicrobials, clarifying agents, nucleating agents and colorants.
Privately held Milliken's annual sales are estimated at $3.4 billion.