Materials firm MSM Poly LLC is making progress with Anobex, its specialty resin designed to replace the discontinued Barex material in pharmaceutical packaging.
Wilmington, Del.-based MSM Poly has shipped "several tons" of Anobex acrylonitrile methyl acrylate copolymer resins to film and component processors who have made it into finished products, officials said in a July 18 news release. Truckload deliveries from a production site in South Carolina also have begun, they added.
"The material processed well and was then sent to converters, who are currently sending samples to pharmaceutical end users," officials said. "All results today demonstrate equivalence with the discontinued Barex resin.
"This event marks a milestone in product quality and production security," they added. "It marks the rebirth of a specialty polymer."
Barex — a polyacrylonitrile (PAN) resin — had been made for many years by Ineos Group and its predecessor firms at a plant in Lima, Ohio. Ineos announced closure of the Barex business in October 2014 but continued to operate the unit through 2016 to meet guaranteed production volumes for contracted customers.
Several materials makers rushed to fill the void left by Barex, which was known as a high-performance material in pharmaceutical and food packaging films. Several Barex customers in the pharmaceutical packaging market contacted Montesino Associates LLC — a Wilmington-based consulting firm — about finding a replacement material.
Montesino Managing Director Peter Schmitt then contacted plastics industry veteran Pat Mickle about finding a Barex replacement. Mickle agreed that there was a continuing need for Barex — a decision that led to the formation of MSM Poly. Schmitt is part-owner of the firm.
MSM Poly negotiated to buy the intellectual property and production support related to the Barex resin product line from Ineos, but those talks ended in September 2016.
Mickle said in the July 18 release that the first commercial-scale orders of Anobex "demonstrate the stability of MSM Poly's production processes and quality program to meet and exceed requirements of pharmaceutical end users."
Michel Rauturier, managing director of French specialty films maker Plastiques Venthenat, said in the release that Anobex "processed well and both in terms of initial testing of properties and performance shows equivalence with Barex."
MSM Poly already has invested $7.5 million in the project and will spend another $15 million by the end of 2018. Capacity now is being added so that by mid-2018, the firm "can produce sufficient quantities for the market," officials said. MSM Poly currently offers Anobex resin as pellets for film and sheet extrusion and injection molding as well as powder for calendering, coating, and compounding.
MSM's plant is in Greenville, S.C. The firm may use a second location in Charleston, S.C., in the future.
Currently, MSM employs less than 10, but expects to have 20 employees by mid-2018. Full-year sales for 2017 are expected to be $2 million, with that amount increasing to more than $15 million by 2018.
Anobex is undergoing validation in Europe, North America, and Japan. It's already distributed in Europe by Velox GmbH of Hamburg, Germany, which supplies specialty raw materials for the plastics, composites, additives and paints and coatings industries.