Teknor Apex Co. came to Fakuma 2015 with what officials are calling the broadest range of thermoplastic elastomer compounds that the firm has ever offered to the European market.
Pawtucket, R.I.-based Teknor makes compounds based on a range of olefinic, styrenic and vulcanizate TPEs. It produces those materials at seven global production sites, including one in Genk, Belgium.
Teknor is launching several new grades of Monprene-brand TPE compounds, including one for consumer products. Applications for the new grades in that sector include grips, handles, knobs and buttons in such products as writing instruments, sporting goods, appliances, tools and personal care items.
In consumer products, TPE customers are looking for “a combination of things,” senior vice president Suresh Swaminathan said in a recent phone interview. “Some [customers] are looking for soft touch, some want a non-PVC solution and others want a material that's not as expensive as other materials.”
Other new Monprene grades are targeted at weatherproof seals in metal, wood, or PVC window frames. Seals made with the new Monprene grades “can be a little thinner” than existing seals and can compete with PVC or rubber, Swaminathan said.
Teknor also is advancing its Sarlink-brand TPEs into the transportation market with grades based on styrenic block copolymers. Previously, Sarlink materials mainly had been based on thermoplastic vulcanizates. Automotive applications for Sarlink SBCs include window encapsulation, sealing systems and heating/venting/air-conditioning (HVAC) components.
Swaminathan emphasized that Teknor is continuing to serve European customers even after a fire destroyed most of the firm's Oldbury, England, plant in April. Teknor in August sold some of the plant's assets, as well as customer lists and its Beetle-brand nylon compounds, to Petlon Polymers Ltd.
Teknor styrenic TPEs and nylon compounds that had been made in Oldbury now are being brought into Europe from Teknor plants in the U.S. and Asia. The firm's Genk plant is being used as a distribution site for these materials. Teknor also has a sales office in Geleen, the Netherlands.
Swaminathan said Teknor plans to restart production of those materials in Europe “as quickly as possible,” potentially through a tolling arrangement or by making an acquisition in the region.
Teknor, founded in 1924, operates 13 plants worldwide and has annual sales of more than $600 million.