Bluestar Silicones USA Corp. is expanding its range of Silbione liquid silicone rubber for health-care applications and consolidating its U.S. manufacturing sites.
Bluestar rounded out its health-care line with the introduction of a 1-durometer LSR and a self-lubricating, 60-durometer LSR.
China National BlueStar (Group) Corp. decided in late 2010 to invest in an expansion of its North American operation and, in September 2011, the company acquired a 226,000-square-foot facility in York, S.C.
In North America, Bluestar focuses on specialty silicone applications and has about 2.5 percent of the total silicone market. By contrast, the Bluestar unit in Europe has about a 17 percent share of the market.
The York location includes a new clean room and should be ready by June to begin manufacturing. In early April, the firm will begin vacating production sites in Rock Hill, S.C., and Ventura, Calif. Thirteen miles separate the York and Rock Hill locations.
“Now, we have [a total of] 85,000 square feet for laboratories and manufacturing,” said J. Christopher York, president of Bluestar Silicones USA, based in East Brunswick, N.J.
“We are also investing in new workshops for silicones now produced in Europe. We will transfer production from around the world,” he said. He added that the firm will have space enough for large reactors and other equipment.
Bluestar Silicones USA employs 54 and expects to add more than 60 people, including 10 for formulation research and development and technical services. Eighteen of 34 people in the Ventura plant plan to relocate to South Carolina, York said at the Medical Design & Manufacturing West trade show, held Feb. 14-16 in Anaheim.
In another development, Bluestar Silicones and a North Canton, Ohio, facility of Graco Inc. are partnering on a new, patented LSR Select process for enabling injection molders to control silicone chemistry better and optimize cure kinetics.
Graco, a manufacturer of fluid-handling systems and components, developed a closed-loop pump injector stack with a variable number of injectors as an auxiliary add-on to a press processing LSR. The device allows a molder to control reactivity via changes in inhibitor levels, and facilitates the cure of a three-part system.
Bluestar Silicones offers organic and inorganic antimicrobial products that can be integrated into silicone technologies.
The firm's largest North American product lines include release coatings, health-care items, textile coatings and specialty fluids and emulsions for tire-release agents and personal-care products.
Government-owned China National BlueStar (Group) Corp. of Beijing formed Bluestar Silicones in February 2007 after acquiring the silicone busi- ness of Paris-based Rhodia SA.