Asahi Kasei Plastics North America Inc. recently marked its 10th anniversary with a two-day event for customers and suppliers and by placing a spotlight on a new polypropylene compound.
The July 15-16 event was held near Asahi Kasei's location in Fowlerville, Mich. It was attended by officials with parent firm Asahi Kasei Corp. from both Japan and New York.
Asahi Kasei acquired the Fowlerville site which had operated as Thermofil Inc. since its founding in Brighton, Mich., in 1967 from Nippon Steel Chemical Co. Ltd. in 2000 in a deal valued at $92 million.
The site completed a major expansion in 2003 and now covers 200,000 square feet. With 280 million pounds of annual compounding capacity, Asahi Kasei ranks as one of North America's largest PP compounders and one of its 30 largest compounders overall. The firm has annual sales of about $200 million, with more than half of that amount coming from the automotive market.
Company officials said last year that Asahi Kasei plans to add sites through joint ventures or acquisition in the Southeast and in Mexico by the end of 2012.
The new material being touted by Asahi Kasei is Thermylene SWP, a special stress-whitening-prevention grade of the firm's Thermylene line of PP compounds. The material won't show signs of stress whitening over time when subjected to pressure, wear and tear, officials said. Thermylene SWP has strong physical properties similar to nylon, they added.
Ten different colored grades of Thermylene SWP are being used in seating by office furniture supplier Haworth Inc. of Holland, Mich. The material provides better results for color matching and feels softer with even greater flexibility, Haworth officials said in a news release.
Thermylene SWP first was commercialized in late 2009 and is receiving a bigger push in 2010, Asahi Kasei marketing director Ramesh Iyer said in a phone interview. Iyer added that Asahi Kasei is enjoying success with its Thermylene P8 line. Thermylene P8 compounds are short-glass reinforced and provide an alternative to long-glass technology.