Friedrichshafen, Germany — Solvay SA has expanded its technology reach by acquiring the long-fiber thermoplastics business of Epic Polymers GmbH.
Brussels-based Solvay announced the deal Oct. 13 at the Fakuma 2015 trade show in Friedrichshafen. No purchase price was disclosed.
The deal includes Epic's LFT technology, as well as a compounding line at Epic's plant in Kaiserslautern, Germany, where Epic is based. The line will continue to operate at that location.
Solvay had been a supplier of materials to Epic for several years, specialty polymers senior vice president Tom Wood said at Fakuma 2015. He added that his firm was attracted to Epic's LFT line because “in general [Solvay] has been looking more at structural lightweighting” in such markets as automotive and aerospace.
“We're taking a more proactive strategy to get into automotive lightweighting,” Wood explained. “We had been using 30 to 40 percent glass-filled grades of Amodel [PPA] or Ryton [PPS]. Long-fiber grades are a natural extension of the true composites we acquired with Cytec.”
“Long fibers are a great bridge,” he added. “They're a stepping stone to the composites world.”
The LFTs acquired from Epic are used in weight-bearing, interior structural auto parts where they increasingly are replacing metal. The acquisition also helps Solvay's position with automotive OEMs who want material suppliers to be back-integrated, Wood said.
In addition to nylon 6/6, PPA and PPS, Epic's LFT technology now will be applied to Solvay's PAEK and PEEK materials.
Overall, Solvay's specialty polymers business is having a good year in 2015, he added. “People are a little nervous about China and about the impact of the Volkswagen situation,” Wood said. “But overall we're hitting our targets.”
Solvay has been busy on many fronts so far in 2015. In January, the firm completed its $220 million purchase of the Ryton business from Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. Wood said the integration of Ryton “is ahead of schedule, and already is bearing fruit.”
In July, Solvay announced its $5.5 billion deal for Cytec, a major composites supplier based in Woodland Park, N.J. Wood said Solvay still is analyzing ways in which Cytec can work with its specialty polymers unit.
Solvay also in September opened a fluoroelastomer plant in Chiangshu, China. The firm will add a compounding line in Chiangshu in early 2016 as well.
Mid-2016 additionally will see the opening of Solvay's new world-scale Ketaspire-brand PEEK plant in Augusta, Ga. Wood said the new plant will allow Solvay to become the first global-scale PEEK supplier. The firm also operates a plant in India.
Solvay employs 26,000 worldwide and posted global sales of more than $12 billion in 2014.