Bioplastics compounder FKuR Kunststoff GmbH hopes to have a North American production site operating in Michigan by mid-2011.
Our focus has been on Europe, but we're working hard to sell in North America, said technology and production director Carmen Michels, in an interview at K 2010 in Dusseldorf. The site is expected to operate two extrusion lines when it opens.
FKuR's biggest seller has been a polylactic acid bioresin compounded with a copolyester blend, which has been used in bags and other film applications.
Willich, Germany-based FKuR also makes materials based on polyhydroxyalkanoate, starch and cellulose acetate. Its suppliers include BASF AG, NatureWorks LLC, Metabolix Inc. and Kaneka Corp. Most of FKuR's compounds including those sold under the Bio-Flex and Biograde trade names can biodegrade in six months or less, Michels said.
FKuR employs 40 in Willich, where it runs four extrusion lines and is in the process of adding a fifth. Recent applications include the backing for a computer keyboard made by Fujitsu Ltd.
We've proven our functionality and now we're application-oriented, said Steven Prindle, who works in applications technology at FKuR's sales office in Cedar Park, Texas.
At K, FKuR was displaying a cosmetic carrying case with an outer shell made from thermoformed sheet based on its own bioplastic materials. Michels added that the firm started with packaging, but now is looking at longer-term applications.
Increased use of bioplastics appears to be more customer-driven than resulting from mandates of consumer products firms, Prindle said. We're trying to free [processors] from the fluctuations of the petroleum industry, he added.