Berlin — Ten years ago, Eastman Chemical Co. introduced a new material, a copolyester which it called Tritan. The new copolyester was an almost immediate success. Plastics News Europe talked to three Eastman representatives at the IFA Global Markets event in Berlin in early September about Tritan's first 10 years in the market.
Launching a new polymer into the market is never easy. It takes time for any new material to carve out a place and become established. However, Tritan, said Thomas Steinbrecher, sales manager specialty plastics at Eastman, was an exception to the rule.
“It has shown a unique growth trend,” he said, “and on the global markets, Tritan has grown at an accelerated pace. We still continue to add customers and applications. The market adoption has been great.”
One consequence of this success, he said, was the need to add capacity. The company announced last week it was building additional capacity at its Kingsport, Tenn., manufacturing facility. Cyclohexanedimethanol (CHDM) is a key ingredient of various speciality plastics products and copolyesters, including Tritan.
So what is Tritan? It is an amorphous copolyester — “We call it a copolyester,” said Steinbrecher — with excellent appearance and clarity, as well as toughness, hydrolytic stability, and heat and chemical resistance. It can be molded into various applications without incorporating high levels of residual stress. And it is approved for food contact applications. These properties go a long way to explaining Tritan's popularity among brand owners, according to Claudia de Witte, Eastman's market development manager specialty plastics — durables.
Tritan came on the market just as reports about bisphenol A in polycarbonate was making big news, prompting a material change by major consumer brand companies.
“But also,” de Witte added, “Tritan offers durability, aesthetics and safety. What we are seeing is that offers clear benefits over other materials in traditional applications, such as small appliances — think blenders, coffee machines — because of advantages in terms of safety — no BPA — and weight.”
She noted that toughness and dishwasher durability are benefits of Tritan that many other materials cannot compete with either. The material is also finding increasing application in products such as medical devices and packaging.
“We are also noticing that as a brand, Tritan is settling in. More and more, it is being mentioned as a brand on packaging and appliances,” said Esther Ronkes, marketing communications manager for Eastman's Europe and Middle East area. “By leveraging benefits of Tritan, brand owners can enhance the quality of their products, which helps to attain and preserve a premium brand image.”
A good example was the Eastman booth at the IFA Global Markets in Berlin. Here, the company is highlighted the 10-year anniversary of the material, together with long-time partner DeLonghi, a manufacturer of small household appliances, who uses the material in milk jugs. DeLonghi was able to not only boost the products' material food contact safety credentials, but also improving the transparency, chemical and stress-cracking resistance — all of which were vital attributes for the application.
“We are continuously developing Tritan, developing new grades and applications. Our goal is to interact with the value chain in order to become part of our customer's success,” Steinbrecher said. “We want to work together to win with our customers.”
Work together, but also celebrate together. Which is why Eastman chose to celebrate this 10-year milestone at the IFA with DeLonghi. And Eastman is already looking forward to working with DeLonghi for another 10 years — “ and beyond” — on creating the next generation of coffee machines and other appliances.