BASF Corp. has commercialized a pair of high-heat grades of thermoplastic polyurethane aimed at the wire and cable market which the company expects to grow with the U.S. infrastructure.
The new Elastollan grades are halogen-free and can be used in jacketing applications, TPU marketing manager Roger Huarng said during a recent interview at Plastics News' office in Akron. These can end up in flat, flexible cables for communications equipment, like in-home computer connections, he said.
One of the new grades is a polyether-based TPU compound that also can be used in film and sheet, hose, hose jacketing and profile extrusions. The other grade is a straight TPU for cable jacketing and similar applications. The materials were commercialized in Europe in late 2007. Production began at BASF's Wyandotte, Mich., site in late 2008.
In spite of recent economic challenges, Huarng said BASF's TPU business could achieve double-digit sales growth in North America this year. If the U.S. government puts money into infrastructure like they've been talking about, then wire and cable can really grow, he said. Then it might become a question of whether the market has enough conversion capacity.
Florham Park, N.J.-based BASF Corp. is a unit of chemical giant BASF SE of Ludwigshafen, Germany. BASF SE's plastics sales were up 4 percent to 7.8 billion euros ($9.8 billion) in the first nine months of 2008, but the unit's nine-month pretax profit fell 11 percent to 843 million euros ($1.06 billion).
Plastics ranked third among BASF SE's six business units in the first nine months of 2008, generating just over 16 percent of total sales. The firm will release fourth-quarter and full-year 2008 results Feb. 26.
In November, BASF announced it was closing 80 plants worldwide and reducing production at 100 others because of severe declines in demand for its plastic and chemical products. Moves in North America included the temporary shutdown of PU feedstock plants in Freeport, Texas, and Geismar, La., and reduction of capacity for nylon resin and feedstocks in Port Arthur, Texas.