Materials maker Ineos Styrolution is meeting medical market needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Our materials touch a lot of subsegments in medical," Global Healthcare Director Alexander Silvestre said in a recent phone interview with Plastics News.
ABS resins made by Ineos Styrolution are used in cartridges for medical masks and respirators. Clear resins made by the firm, including polystyrene and styrenic block copolymers (SBCs), are used in face shields.
COVID test kits use PS made by Ineos Styrolution in multiple ways. Other materials made by the firm are used in injection molded parts for ventilators.
Ineos Styrolution's reaction to COVID-19 has changed as the year has gone on, Silvestre said.
"At the start of the year, we were concerned about supply chain integrity and were doing everything in our power to maintain the supply chain," he added.
"As we got through that, there was a call to arms on PPE [personal protection equipment]. We had to see if we could increase supplies."
In some cases, Ineos Styrolution was working with OEMs that had never made face shields before and automotive customers that were new to making ventilator parts.
"We made ourselves readily available and helped our customers as much as we could," Silvestre said.
Sales volumes at Ineos Styrolution struggled early in the year because of COVID shutdowns, then leveled off and now have improved.
"Year over year, we're stronger than where we were," Silvestre said. "PPE has really come forward."
Looking ahead, Ineos Styrolution is doing more research and development work and is looking to new material development. One of the firm's OEM customers is working on what Silvestre called "a next generation test kit" for COVID-19.
Like many firms, Ineos Styroltuion has faced challenges from travel limits, but Silvestre said the firm "is making it work."
"Things are starting to get back to normal," he said. "We're still bringing new products to market."
Ineos Styrolution is based in Frankfurt, Germany, with North American headquarters in Aurora, Ill. The firm employs 3,600 and posted sales of almost $6 billion in 2019.