Lubrizol Corp. is growing its Estane thermoplastic polyurethane business in Asia with two projects.
The first is an expansion of the Shanghai TPU operation of subsidiary Lubrizol Advanced Materials Inc., the new name of its former Noveon Inc. unit. That expansion will nearly double TPU capacity at the site. Lubrizol is seeing an increased demand for TPU products in Asia, particularly for high-end applications, said Timothy Madden, business director for the Asia-Pacific region.
When Wickliffe, Ohio-based Lubrizol's Shanghai TPU factory first came on-line in 2005, the company anticipated multiple capacity expansions. Even with the current TPU expansion, the firm may not have enough capacity to fill demand, Madden said.
``Our capacity is completely used with demand about half and half between China and the rest of Asia,'' he said. ``Even after the expansion, we may not be completely self-sufficient. We're looking at how to expand even further.''
Officials expect the larger factory to be finished during the first half of 2008, Madden said.
``The initial manufacturing that came in was aimed at the lower-cost labor. Now we're starting to see some of the other industrial applications starting to come over,'' he said.
The TPU expansion is already under way. A $40 million specialty chemicals factory, previously announced, is being built on land adjacent to the TPU site.
The Shanghai TPU plant is the first internationally owned TPU operation in China and is celebrating its second anniversary this month.
Meanwhile, Lubrizol is opening a factory in Malaysia, also dedicated to Estane TPU production. The plant, planned for Seremban, will produce injection molding resins for the electronics industry, said Mike Vaughn, general manager of Estane engineered polymers business, in a news release.
A Lubrizol official said the company will not disclose the project's cost.
Estane TPU products are used in industrial, automotive, textile and medical applications. Lubrizol, which had $4 billion in sales last year, produces lubricant and fuel additives, as well as ingredients and additives for personal-care products, pharmaceuticals, coatings and resins.