(April 20, 4:30 a.m. EDT) — Granted, sales of thermoplastic elastomers have far exceeded nearly all other sectors of the plastics industry. And, outside of the tire market, the rubber market has — excuse the pun — somewhat deflated.
But, as we saw it here at the Rubber Manufacturers Association, this spelled opportunity. Not just for our members, but for producers or compounders of TPEs, which are increasingly being used to enhance products, by virtue of performance and/or manufacture (injection molded, blow molded or extruded).
Other groups, save one or more independent sources to TPE producers, have either neglected to, failed to, or simply not seen the need to provide the TPE sector with the business data it needs to continue its growth. Perhaps this is because of the size and diversity of the plastics industry.
But herein we saw opportunity for rubber products producers and TPE producers (compounders).
Enter the RMA on Jan. 1 with a solution to stagnant or declining rubber usage and an opportunity for TPE producers.
Our 75-plus-year track record has seen us provide detailed and authoritative data our members have needed, including key market information and statistics, special reports, industry fact books and various studies.
And so, we conceived a new name (Elasto¼mers Product Group), a new business resource and new opportunities that would benefit both rubber parts and TPE materials producers. RMA, with our vast resources and experience, would not only provide members with key data they need to grow and prosper, but we would also provide a forum for rubber parts manufacturers to learn about TPEs. And TPE producers could realize yet another market for their products. As a result, everyone would gain.
Stepping back, our goal is not to compete with other industry associations and sources, or step on the toes of independent firms now serving these same companies and markets. Rather, we provide a unique forum and specialized services from the perspective of an international trade association to designers, makers and molders of industrial products. Further, we saw these primarily in the field of automotive, medical and general industrial.
We see this as yet another step in the right direction to help members and those industries we serve and particularly all those companies in North America looking for new venues for growth.
The first demonstrative step will be our TPE conference scheduled in June of this year in Akron, where we hope all major rubber component manufacturers and TPE suppliers will become involved.
Kevin R. Ott is vice president of the Elastomers Product Group of the Washington-based Rubber Manufacturers Association.