FRX Polymers Inc. opened its first production plant earlier this year, making its specialty flame-retardant polyphosphonate resin at a location in Domat-Ems, Switzerland.
Chelmsford, Mass.-based FRX has operated a pilot plant in Chelmsford since 2007, but needed more production to handle larger requests for the material, Jan-Pleun Lens, research and applications vice president, said at K 2010, held Oct. 27 to Nov. 3 in Dusseldorf.
Production essentially is sold out and we need to debottleneck, he said. We've started to look for a new plant site, which is likely to be in Europe.
FRX's polyphosphonate was developed in the mid-1980s by Plastics Hall of Fame member Dieter Freitag, who was instrumental in developing polycarbonate for Bayer AG. Freitag purchased the rights for poly- phosphonate which never had been commercialized after retiring from Bayer in 2000.
Freitag and his partners then recruited several private investors and venture capital firms including technology firm Triton Systems Inc. of Chelmsford that worked with him to develop the material between 2002 and 2006. The pilot plant then was opened, and expanded both in 2008 and 2009. It currently has semi-commercial production capacity of about 100,000 pounds annually.
The Swiss site collocated with technology provider and machinery supplier Uhde Inventa-Fischer GmbH of Berlin has annual capacity of more than 200,000 pounds.
The high phosphorous content of FRX's polyphosphonate has made it attractive to makers of electrical connectors and electronic housings, Lens said. The material is halogen-free, which has been valuable for companies looking to meet environmental standards, he added.
FRX's polyphosphonate is available as a homopolymer or copolymer resin and as an oligomer when used as an additive. To date, it has been effectively combined with polycarbonate, PC/ABS and polybutylene terephthalate.
In electrical connectors, the material offers high melt flow and better impact resistance than competing materials, officials said. For electronic housings, it features improved toughness and increased hydrolytic stability, they said. In fibers and textiles, FRX's polyphosphonate has excellent processability and colorability, the company said.