Dow to eliminate Questra resin line
MIDLAND, MICH. - After seven years, Dow Chemical Co. is throwing in the towel on its Questra-brand line of syndiotactic polystyrene.
Midland-based Dow stopped promoting the material in November and will halt production in mid-2005, officials said in a Dec. 8 news release. Dow's only Questra production site is in Schkopau, Germany, where annual capacity for the material is about 80 million pounds.
Questra is a crystalline polymer made using Dow's Insite-brand polymer technology. The resin has been targeted at the automotive, electrical and electronic markets. Questra competes with a range of materials, from polybutylene terephthalate to high-temperature nylons and liquid-crystal polymers.
``Questra polymers found success in a number of niche applications, but didn't experience the broad market penetration that was anticipated,'' said product manager Scott Moore. ``Based on this narrow market position, Dow determined that the product did not provide the best possible strategic fit for future value growth.''
The announcement marks the second time in three years that Dow has pulled a relatively new product. In 2002, the company stopped production of its Index-brand ethylene styrene interpolymer, which had been aimed at a number of flexibles markets. Commercial production of Index lasted less than five years.
DuPont, Dow ending elastomers alliance
WILMINGTON, DEL. - After nine years, the DuPont Dow Elastomers LLC partnership is being dissolved.
The Wilmington-based venture was formed in 1996 by DuPont Co. of Wilmington and Dow Chemical Co. of Midland, Mich. The split comes less than a year after Dow was given an option to acquire parts of DuPont Dow in a cashless transaction. That option was part of DuPont Dow's response to antitrust investigations in the synthetic rubber market.
When DuPont Dow was launched, according to Dow spokeswoman Elizabeth McDonnell, Dow needed a way to get its Insite-brand technology into the elastomers market, where DuPont already had a marketing presence. Dow now has its own position in that market, reducing the need for the partnership, McDonnell said.
In 2004, DuPont Dow posted sales of $1.2 billion and employed 1,400 worldwide.
In the split, which is to be completed June 30, each company essentially will recover what it brought to the deal. Dow will take back its Engage-brand polyolefin elastomers and Nordel ethylene propylene diene monomer - both made with Insite single-site catalyst technology - as well as its Tyrin chlorinated polyethylene. DuPont will retain its Neoprene, Hypalon and Viton thermoset elastomer units, as well as its Kalrez-brand high-performance fabricated parts.
Sales of the divided parts equal $600 million for each company. DuPont also will pay Dow $87 million for a remaining equity interest in the business. Dow's portion also includes manufacturing assets in Freeport and Seadrift, Texas; Plaquemine, La.; and Stade, Germany.
DuPont Dow spokeswoman Cathy Branciaroli said she believes her firm ``delivered on the rationale of extending [Insite] technology into a new area.''
``I feel good about what we could deliver,'' Branciaroli said.
Industry consultant Balaji Singh took a more critical view of the split in an executive summary released Jan. 3 by his firm, Chemical Market Resources Inc. of Houston.
``The loss of DuPont's portion of the elastomers [market] moves Dow one step backwards in their quest for the ideal global elastomers organization,'' Singh said. ``History will probably record DuPont Dow as the Cinderella who missed her midnight coach ride due to avoidable twists in the story plot.''
StÃ¤ubli acquiring Bosch's Scara unit
FAVERGES, FRANCE - French robot maker StÃ¤ubli Faverges SCA is buying the Scara robot division of Lohr, Germany-based Bosch Rexroth AG.
StÃ¤ubli makes six-axis articulating robots and customized automation systems.
Bosch Rexroth also makes six-axis robots, but its main robot product is a series of four-axis Scara robots. Scara stands for selective compliance assembly robot.
``This will basically nearly complete the StÃ¤ubli product line,'' said David Arceneaux, marketing manager at StÃ¤ubli's Robotics Division in Duncan, S.C.
He said Scara robots are fast-moving units that have relatively limited applications as part of a larger automation line.
StÃ¤ubli, based in Faverges, said it will continue to supply robotics-buying customers of Bosch Rexroth, which makes motors, drives and motion controllers.
Terms of the deal, which is subject to certain approvals, were not disclosed.
In other news, StÃ¤ubli has introduced its TX40 robot, a smaller robot designed for laboratory use. The very fast, six-axis robot has a payload of 5 pounds. The closed mechanical structure and a reinforced, submersible wrist is ideal for clean rooms and hostile work environments, the company said.