Sabic Innovative Plastics is boosting production of polycarbonate multiwall and solid sheet via capacity expansions in Austria, Italy and the Netherlands. The firm also said it has opened a new energy center in Europe designed to boost new technology application for solar panel production.
Sabic is targeting the expanded sheet capacity in construction and industrial markets across Europe, Middle East and Africa, according to Jack Govers, general manager of specialty film and sheet for those regions.
The new production lines are due to be completed by the third quarter of 2008, Govers said Oct. 24 at K 2007 in Dusseldorf. The firm is adding production lines in Vienna, Austria, and Milan, Italy, and upgrading a line at its European headquarters in Bergen-op-Zoom, the Netherlands, to meet growing demand for Lexan-brand structural glazing, roofing, signage and other applications in Eastern Europe, Russia and other locations.
He would not disclose exact numbers, but said the addition of a line for multiwall or solid polycarbonate sheet typically adds about 8.8 million poundsof annual capacity. He termed the latest additions a ``significant increase,'' suggesting a boost in total production capacity of roughly 10-20 percent. Govers said Sabic is likely to add some new employees at each site to run the new lines, but he did not estimate how many.
The new Vienna line will make Lexan Thermoclear sheet in widths up to 84 inches for use in lightweight, impact-resistant, transparent glazing of commercial greenhouses, verandas, industrial buildings and stadiums.
The Milan line will produce Lexan Thermoclick sheet for translucent building facades, as well as Lexan Thermoroof sheet for industrial roof lights, and Lexan Thermopanel sheet, which is used to provide natural light in insulated metal roofing applications.
The Dutch expansion involves upgrading a line in Bergen-op-Zoom to manufacture Lexan solid sheet. The line in question previously ran 1- to 2-millimeter sheet and even thinner film, and so had to add a roll stack for thicker sheet capability, along with packaging robots and other such additions. That solid-sheet product is used in a range of building and industrial applications, including signage, displays and security glazing.
Among the advantages Sabic claims for its Lexan sheet materials are a measurable return on investment through ease of installation, lower insurance costs due to better fire resistance, and impact resistance to prevent breakage and weather damage. The firm also said the products offer strong resistance to ultraviolet-light degradation, weathering and breakage.
Separately, Sabic Innovative Plastics announced at K that is also is creating a new energy center at its European headquarters in Bergen-op-Zoom. The new facility, part of the company's global application technology organization, expands the company's fluid engineering center. It aims to help customers use lightweight, high-performance thermoplastics to replace heavy and increasingly costly copper, aluminum, steel and glass in thermal and photovoltaic solar panels.
Sabic has equipped the center with design, molding and testing equipment and staffed it with engineers, materials scientists and application development experts. The center is designed to help customers use the latest in advanced thermoplastic technologies to mass-produce solar panels.