ERJ staff report (RD)
Houston, Texas -- Kraton Performance Polymers Inc., a producer of styrenic block co-polymers (SBCs), is planning to invest around $27 million (Euro 20 million) in its Belpre, Ohio plant to allow the production of poly-isoprene rubber (IR), a 26 April company statement said.
The move is aimed to meet increased customer demand for IR in the US, the Houston-based company said. In December 2009, Kraton ceased production at its Pernis, the Netherlands PIR plant as part of the production relocation process.
According to Kraton, demand for IR products has grown significantly, â€œespecially in the medical industry, due to its ability to provide comfort and alternatives to natural rubber latex (NRL),â€ the statement said. PIR is often substituted for latex because it doesn't contain natural impurities that can cause allergic reaction, Kraton explained, adding that Kraton PIR is used in applications including catheters, surgical gloves, medical stoppers, medical tube connectors and other medical products.
â€œPlant modifications and upgrades are scheduled to commence around the third quarter 2010 with the new IR production capabilities expected by mid-2011,â€ said Kraton ceo, David Bradley, adding that â€œKraton has adequate PIR inventories on hand to satisfy its estimated customer demand throughout the scheduled Belpre modification phase.â€
Bradley said that the US location will be better-suited to serve a region that increasingly seeks high quality alternatives to natural rubber for medical applications. â€œThe Belpre, Ohio plant should also offer a more reliable environment for future production of PIR to further serve existing and new customers,â€ he added.
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Press release from Kraton Performance Polymers Inc.