Materials maker Americhem Inc. has added an extrusion line for soft polymer compounding at its plant in Suzhou, China.
The new line will allow for more convenient compounding of polymers such as thermoplastic polyurethane and other thermoplastic elastomers, officials with Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio-based Americhem said in an Aug. 8 news release.
The new line marks the second time in three years that Americhem has expanded at the Suzhou site, which opened in 2006.
The new extruder line features a fully automated underwater pelletizer that allows the processing of TPU, TPEs and similar materials to meet the growing demand for soft-touch materials worldwide, especially in Asia, officials added. The new line also includes imported high-end twin screw extruders with side feeders, a liquid feeding system and a large drying hopper.
The plant is well equipped to handle all kinds of strand-handling systems — including water bath, conveyor-belt and high-speed-intensive mixer — to provide effective mixing of all kinds of formulations, officials said.
"Between Americhem's constant growth and the increasing demand for soft touch products, this new TPE line in China will only further enhance our offerings to customers," CEO Matthew Hellstern said. He added that the Suzhou plant has ISO certifications for compounding and coloring engineering compounds for medical applications.
The new line is the second Asia-based move for Americhem in the last three months. On June 1, the firm acquired Indian materials firm Prescient Color Ltd. Prescient is based in Pune, India, and makes textile and specialty masterbatch concentrates for markets including synthetic fibers. No sale price was announced for the transaction.
The Prescient deal is Americhem's fourth acquisition since 2013. Between 2013 and 2016, Americhem acquired Infinity Compounding, LTL Color Compounders and Vi-Chem Corp.
Americhem is one of North America's 30 largest compounders and concentrate makers, according to Plastics News data. The firm operates 10 plants worldwide and has annual sales of almost $300 million.