Lanxess Corp. is looking to toughen its product lineup with soft-touch grades of Lustran-brand ABS and Centrex-brand thermoplastic alloys.
Pittsburgh-based Lanxess commercialized both products in late 2006 at its plant in Addyston, Ohio. Both are aimed at sheet extrusion applications that require luxury and durability in interior car and truck parts and exterior parts for boats, farm equipment and construction vehicles.
The Lustran grade is aimed at interiors, while Centrex - an alloy based on acrylic styrene acrylonitrile - fills exterior needs, said Lustran business development director Jan Willem van der Werff in a recent phone interview.
``We see opportunities especially in trucks and buses,'' van der Werff said. The Lustran grade gives a low-gloss, soft-touch feel to ABS, and Centrex, with its adhesion properties, can be used as a capstock over vinyl and other substrates.
Soft-touch and low-gloss markets make up two of seven growth platforms for Lustran that Lanxess officials have identified since mid-2006. And even though growth in the transportation sector is expected to be down in 2006, van der Werff said the product can make inroads vs. existing materials on current parts.
``Low-gloss is a great niche where there's a lot of automotive work, but also opportunities in siding for residential and construction,'' he said. ``There's always going to be some color fading in outdoor uses because of ultraviolet [light] exposure, but consumers want all parts of the product to fade the same way.''
Lanxess also has placed grades of its Triax-brand ABS/nylon alloy in front fenders on several BMW vehicles in 2006 and 2007.
Moving forward, van der Werff said Lanxess is taking a look at flame-retardant grades of its materials that could be used in stadium seating or on rail cars. Lustran and Centrex grades with more of a tactile feel and with more scratch resistance may be launched later this year as well.
In Pittsburgh, Lanxess recently opened a $5 million technology center for material protection, functional chemicals and technical rubber products.
Lanxess is the North American arm of Lanxess AG of Leverkeusen, Germany. In North America, Lanxess employs about 2,000 and has annual sales of about $1 billion. The firm's total worldwide annual sales are about $9 billion.