At Noveon Inc., success in the thermoplastic polyurethanes market isn't hard - it's actually quite soft.
The Brecksville, Ohio-based firm unveiled a softer grade of its Estane TPU earlier this year. The material is aimed at hose and tubing for industrial equipment, Estane market manager Dan Latas said at NPE in Chicago.
Noveon - a unit of specialty chemicals maker Lubrizol Corp. of Wickliffe, Ohio - plans to commercialize additional new products later this year, but Latas declined to provide details.
``Our focus [at NPE] has been to re-emphasize the number of and value of a lot of the uses of TPU in ordinary life,'' he said.
Along with industrial uses, Estane has been making strides in medical applications such as tubings and catheters and in recreational uses such as athletic shoes and soccer balls. Product development also remains key.
``Research and development is one of our biggest concentrations,'' Latas said.
Other recent product applications at Noveon include liners for sewer pipes and storm drains, and more comfortable padding for helmets worn by U.S. armed forces personnel.
Noveon plans to add capacity at its plant in Shanghai later this year. Details of the expansion were unavailable. Half of the plant's current output is exported to China.
Elsewhere, Noveon began production of chlorinated PVC and cross-linked polyethylene earlier this year at a plant in Peachtree City, Ga. Noveon bought the plant in late 2005 from Equistar Chemicals LP of Houston.
In 2005, Noveon posted sales of more than $1.3 billion. Noveon employs 3,500 and has a customer base of more than 7,000.