Noveon Inc. will increase its thermoplastic polyurethane capacity by one-third in Avon Lake, Ohio, through an expansion that should be completed in late summer 2007.
The expansion will include a new polymerization line and associated auxiliary equipment. Officials with Brecksville-based Noveon declined to provide financial details, but said the expansion was a multimillion-dollar project that could create several new jobs.
``We'll be doing extensive work at the site,'' Noveon's Mike Vaughn said during an Aug. 29 interview in Brecksville. ``This is more than a debottlenecking.''
Vaughn - who serves as vice president and general manager of Noveon's Estane-brand TPU business - added that the new capacity is needed because of increased North American and South American demand in several market segments. He cited wire and cable, hose and tubing, and film and sheet as markets that are helping to drive TPU growth.
Increased use of TPU film as paint protection on cars also has spurred demand. Vaughn credited TPU's ease of processability and extrusion abilities as reasons for its ongoing market penetration.
``TPU is recognized as a critical material for a lot of end uses,'' he said.
Officials said it's been about 10 years since the Avon Lake site added capacity. Noveon - a unit of Wickliffe, Ohio-based Lubrizol Corp. - also produces TPU at sites in Wilmington, Mass.; Oevel, Belgium; and Shanghai.
The Wilmington location - which makes aliphatic TPUs - is undergoing a smaller capacity increase that will be complete by the end of the year. The Shanghai plant opened in late 2005 and already is working on a debottlenecking that will increase capacity by 10-15 percent. That project should be complete by the fourth quarter of 2006.
Noveon's TPU business also has benefited from being purchased by Lubrizol in 2004, according to Vaughn.
``Lubrizol's focus on organized growth has manifested itself in the investments that are being made,'' he said.
In the second quarter of 2006, sales in Noveon's specialty materials unit - including Estane and TempRite-brand chlorinated PVC and cross-linked polyethylene - were up 19 percent vs. the same quarter in 2005. Specific TPU sales data was unavailable, but overall sales in Lubrizol's specialty chemicals business were up 36 percent to $719 million in the first half of 2006.