A new thermoplastic elastomer compounding line will allow Teknor Apex Co.'s plant in the United Kingdom to do more of what it does best: quick turnarounds on specialty products.
The 50,000-square-foot plant in Oldbury, England, can do made-to-order work in as little as two weeks, but can complete work in half that time during a production cycle, Europe Managing Director Simon Hubbard said in an interview at K 2010.
We fit a niche, because a lot of companies don't want to do small runs on big lines, he added. The plant does a number of jobs in the 4,000- to 7,000-pound range, working in natural colors as well as in blacks for a variety of consumer and industrial customers.
The TPE line will add almost 8 million pounds of annual capacity and will be the second in Oldbury for Pawtucket, R.I.-based Teknor. The line is expected to be fully operational during the first quarter of 2011.
Teknor also operates several lines in Oldbury compounding reinforced nylon and other engineering resins. An existing TPE pilot line there will be used for research and development work and small-lot orders.
The 65-employee plant also is expected to be running three shifts by mid-2011. The additional work will allow the site to add six jobs, Hubbard said.
About 60 percent of the plant's output is sold to customers in the U.K., with most of the remainder sold to other customers in Europe. Teknor acquired the Oldbury plant, which was built in the 1950s, as part of its 2005 purchase of Chem Polymer Ltd.
Production volume at the site for 2010 has recovered from a rough 2009, and now is even higher than it was in 2008, Hubbard said at the Dusseldorf show, held Oct. 27 to Nov. 3.
Our volume is stronger now than it's been in 10 years, he said. This is the right market for us to be in.
The new line will be used to supply styrenic TPEs, including:
* Monprene-brand compounds for a range of consumer and industrial applications.
* Tekbond-brand bondable TPEs for overmolding.
* Elexar-brand TPEs for wire and cable products.
* Medalist-brand medical compounds, which can be based on a variety of TPEs.
The addition of the line is the latest step in a flurry of TPE activity by Teknor in 2010. In September, the firm bought the Sarlink-brand thermoplastic vulcanizate business from Royal DSM NV for an undisclosed price. Sarlink has annual sales of $65 million and produces its material at plants in Leominster, Mass., and Genk, Belgium.
Teknor also recently commercialized new Medalist TPE compounds that, company officials said, can achieve the properties of PVC.
Teknor Apex compounds PVC as well as TPEs and engineering resins, and is a major manufacturer of garden hose. The 86-year-old firm ranks as one of North America's 30 largest compounders and concentrates makers and has annual sales estimated at more than $600 million.