Friedrichshafen, Germany — Lubrizol Corp. showcased its full lineup of thermoplastic polyurethane materials at the recent Fakuma trade show, while Exxon Mobil Chemical Co. officials said the firm will launch two new grades of Santoprene-brand thermoplastic vulcanizates by the end of the year.
"We have a lot of versions [of TPU] so we can adapt to our customers' needs," Europe, Middle East and Africa distribution manager Fabio Morelli said at Fakuma in Friedrichshafen, where Lubrizol exhibited with distribution firm Velox.
"We can adapt the material to the process that's being used, whether it's injection molding or extrusion or another type of process," he added. "We're the only [TPU] supplier with this philosophy and with a broad portfolio."
Materials in focus for Wickliffe, Ohio-based Lubrizol at Fakuma included BounCell-X TPU microcellular foam made with Trexel Corp.'s MuCell technology. The foam can be used in thicker parts with low density for markets such as footwear, sports and recreation and industrial applications, Morelli said.
Lubrizol also focused on low-smoke, zero-halogen, flame-retardant grades of Estane-brand TPU for wire and cable applications. New grades can meet robotics and Industry 4.0 requirements such as a superior flexibility and durability.
Morelli said TPUs initially were replacing PVC in wire and cable applications, but now they are replacing older grades of TPU.
Distribution firm Danquinsa showcased Lubrizol's non-yellowing aliphatic TPUs at Fakuma. The materials were part of Lubrizol's 2011 acquisition of Spanish TPU maker Merquinsa. Non-yellowing characteristics are needed in paint protection films for cars, planes and other vehicles, Morelli said.
Outside of plastics, Lubrizol is a global leader in lubricant additives. The firm — a unit of investment company Berkshire Hathaway — employs 8,300 worldwide and posted sales of $6.5 billion in 2016.
ExxonMobil's new Santoprene grades are aimed at corner mold segments in glass-run channels for automotive weather seals. The materials now are being sampled by customers, market developer Hermann-Josef Holz said.
The new grades have good shape and friction performance and display good bonding with EPDM, he added. Flexible sealing systems continue to draw interest from customers because of their lightweighting possibilities, according to Holz.
As previously announced, Houston-based ExxonMobil is expanding capacity for Santoprene and other specialty elastomers by 25 percent at its plant in Newport, Wales. That expansion is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.