Liquid color leader ColorMatrix Group expects to open a manufacturing site in Suzhou, China, in early 2008 and is preparing to launch a new online color-matching service for its customers.
The Berea, Ohio-based firm will open a 30,000-square-foot site there, global development director Mark Frost said in an interview at K 2007 in Dusseldorf. ColorMatrix has operated a sales office in Hong Kong for more than 10 years and acquired a manufacturing plant in Shanghai when it bought Colorant-Chromatics Group of Cham, Switzerland, earlier this year.
``We have a strong customer base in China,'' said Frost.
Earlier this year, ColorMatrix also purchased Dosi Color - a liquid color maker with plants in Argentina and Mexico - for an undisclosed price.
ColorMatrix was founded in 1978 and has annual sales of more than $100 million. Officials claim the firm is the world's largest liquid color maker.
The online color-matching system is ColorMatrix's attempt ``to create a complete design system, from rapid prototype to production,'' Frost said.
``We can put control of cost in our customers' hands. They can go from color matching to producing parts to checking them in 45 minutes. By using hand-held spectrophotometers, they can do color matches from the office, factory or home.''
A prototype of the system - which is being tested with a couple of customers - was on display at K. Initially, Frost said the program will be used for polyolefin-based products before broadening out to other polymer sets like polyester, ABS and polycarbonate.
Also at the show, ColorMatrix was showcasing technology used in its three core markets - packaging, injection molding and pipe/profile/sheet. Pipe/profile/ sheet ``is big in North America and small but growing'' in Europe, Frost said.
In extrusion, new materials for foam-cored pipe are in development and will be commercial by end of year. The main benefit of the new products is light-weighting brought about by changes in cell structure.
For the packaging field, ColorMatrix has launched new ultraviolet products in the last year. They're used in polyester packaging for juice and personal-care items, as well as in home products like detergents and soaps.
Frost added that ColorMatrix's sales are seeing rapid growth in Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. ``We're committed to growing profitably, but we're not solely focused on organic growth.''
ColorMatrix also has doubled the size of its research-and-development staff in the last 2-3 years and now employs 18 in that function.
``We still have a lot of developments available to us in our chemistry set,'' Frost said.