Degussa AG has set up a global marketing team for high-performance polymers, especially PEEK, said Kenny Chee, director of Asia-Pacific sales and marketing for Degussa high-performance polymers.
Degussa's 80-20 joint venture, JIDA Degussa High Performance Polymers Changchun Co. Ltd., began production last month in Changchun, China. Jilin University, also in Changchun, is the venture's 20 percent partner. The school developed the high-tech materials, while Degussa contributes sales, marketing, project management and financing.
The plant can produce as much as 1.1 million pounds of polyetheretherketone annually, but will produce 330,000-440,000 pounds in 2006-07.
``We think we should be more practical in the PEEK market, and increase our production based on demand,'' Chee said.
The company is touting the high-temperature polymers as replacements for metal products, he said in an interview at the Innovation in High Performance Engineering Thermoplastics conference, held Oct. 9-10 in Singapore.
Chee estimates PEEK's global demand will double by 2015 to 8.82 million pounds a year, from about 4.41 million pounds in 2005. The material sells for about $56.90 per pound, with specialty medical grades going for $1,138 per pound.
Christian Bierhaus, global business development director for PEEK, is leading the global marketing team. Three international coordinators will support Bierhaus: Ed Gray in the U.S., Ulrike Michgehl in Europe and Chee in Asia.
The company makes PEEK at the Chungchun plant and ships it to Marl, Germany, for further processing. Degussa is based in Darmstadt, Germany.
Meanwhile, the Changchun operation plans to open a 660,000-pound polyethersulfone plant in about three years, Chee said.
Though sales for the Changchun plant, located in one of China's automotive centers, are confidential, analysts believe the figure to be around US$40 million.