The electrical/electronics market is providing a home for three new grades of Pocan-brand polybutylene terephthalate made by Lanxess Corp.
The Pittsburgh-based firm - a unit of Lanxess AG of Ludwigshafen, Germany - also is making strides with its Durethan-brand nylon 6 and 6/6 resins in the electrical/electronics and automotive markets, officials said.
``The inherent dimensional stability of PBT offers less moisture uptake than nylon,'' North America technology leader Rob Cunningham said in a recent phone interview. ``PBT also has good surface quality and is easy to adapt in a flame-retardant grade.''
``We're looking into the electrical/electronics industry with both Durethan and Pocan,'' added Andreas Scheurelli, regional manager for semicrystalline products. ``New technologies like laser-direct structuring are creating new opportunities in cell phones and other markets. We can engrave a conductive path on a cell phone that can basically replace an antenna.''
In the automotive market, Durethan nylon resins are being used in air-intake manifolds, beauty covers, oil filters and other areas looking for plastic-metal hybrids. Officials said Durethan is valued there because of its toughness, strength and high-temperature performance.
``Even if the amount of cars purchased remains the same, lowering weight will still be a big issue, which can lead to new applications,'' Scheurelli said.
A tight auto market also could ``stimulate customers to look for alternatives'' to metal or to more expensive engineering resins, according to sales director Brendan Dooley.
``Customers want to find a lower-cost material that doesn't affect the performance of the finished product,'' Dooley said. ``They have to ask themselves why they're using what they're using, and if they're overspecified and if there's a more affordable alternative.''
Lanxess officials expect global demand for both nylon and PBT to grow about 5 percent in both 2006 and 2007, in spite of a soft automotive market.
Lanxess production sites for Durethan nylon and Pocan PBT are in the German cities of Krefeld-Uerdingen, Hamm-Uentrop and Dormagen; as well as in Hebron, Ohio; Antwerp, Belgium; and Wuxi, China.
Lanxess AG is a major manufacturer of ABS and other specialty plastics and chemicals. The company posted sales of almost $8.5 billion in 2005.