ORLANDO, FLA. — Sabic Innovative Plastics will add more than 700 million pounds of material production capacity in the next five years — including a 30 percent capacity increase into their much-desired Ultem-brand polyetherimide resin.
Higher-than-expected demand for Ultem caused a shortage of the material late last year. At a Monday news conference, Sabic officials (Booth S19001) said that the firm is continuing to work closely with customers to balance supply — and that the company is building Ultem inventory in advance of a 40-day turnaround at its Mount Vernon, Ind., plant later this year.
“Demand for the material exceeded forecasts,” Sabic Innovative Plastics Executive Vice President Keith Smith said in an interview at NPE 2015. “Other high-end materials are in constrained positions as well.”
Ultem demand in particular has been seen from the consumer electronics sector. The 30 percent capacity increase will be accomplished via debottlenecks at plants in Mount Vernon and Cartagena, Spain. New lines at both sites are being considered, Smith added.
Other capacity expansions previously announced by Sabic include a new polycarbonate production line at the Chinese plant operated in a joint venture with Sinopec. Smith said Sabic “has witnessed some key shifts in polycarbonate — but we're in it for the long haul.” The firm's ABS production in Saudi Arabia also will be increased by 80 percent when a new line is installed by the end of 2015.
Sabic at NPE 2015 also is highlighting the Strati, the world's first 3-D-printed vehicle. The car is made by Local Motors from Sabic LNP Thermocomp carbon fiber-reinforced ABS.
Sabic also has designed an economy aircraft seat along with Italian design house Studio Gavari. An automotive tailgate design also has the possibility of reducing part weight by 30 percent, according to industry marketing and strategy vice president Greg Adams.