Employees of Star Thermoplastics Alloys & Rubbers Inc. (Booth 59020) won't be able to drive or walk to NPE as they have in past years — but they'll be there nonetheless, armed with several new thermoplastic elastomers.
Star now is based in Broadview, Ill., but until 2007, the firm was located about six blocks away from NPE's previous location at Chicago's McCormick Place. This year's event, and the 2015 version as well, will be in Orlando, Fla.
When the firm was in Chicago, its employees sometimes walked to NPE, owner Tom Dieschbourg said in a Feb. 7 phone interview. The proximity also allowed NPE visitors to tour Star's plant. But Dieschbourg is optimistic about the event's new location and is bringing 11 employees to NPE2012, set for April 1-5.
“It's a little farther, but we'll be there,” he said.
At the event, Star will be promoting its StarPrene-brand styrenic block copolymers, which were commercialized late last year. The materials offer similar performance to most thermoplastic vulcanizates, but are priced on average 10 percent lower, Dieschbourg said. Officials claim StarPrene is easier to color and has better tensile strength and elongation than TPVs.
Star also will be emphasizing new grades of StarClear-brand TPEs with excellent clarity, according to the company, and other processing and end-use benefits. StarClear can be based on TPVs or styrenic block copolymers.
The firm also has available new StarPet-brand TPEs aimed at use in pet toys and products. The grades are safer than those from foreign sources, officials said. The materials are non-toxic, safe, long-lasting and recyclable, according to Star.
Star is heading into NPE2012 after a very successful 2011, in which it posted sales growth of 50 percent. Dieschbourg declined to release sales totals, but said the growth resulted from new business in automotive, medical and other markets.
The company also is in the midst of a major growth wave. Star added 10,000 square feet of space for two new labs last year and almost 5,000 square feet more for additional office space. Star now occupies almost 60,000 square feet.
The labs include a new twin-screw extrusion line and an injection molding machine, both to be used for testing purposes. By the end of the year, Star also plans to add a pair of single-screw production lines that will increase its annual capacity to almost 60 million pounds.
Star hired two new sales representatives in 2011 after also hiring two in 2010. The firm now has a total of 33 employees. StarPrene, the new StarClear grades and the pet-market materials all were commercialized in late 2011.