ERJ staff report (RPN)
By Bruce Meyer, Rubber & Plastics News Staff
Two years ago, Rhein Chemie Rheinau GmbH wasn't in the tyre curing bladder business. But following a 2011 acquisition in Argentina, a purchase earlier this year in the US and a soon-to-be expansion in Brazil, the subsidiary of Germany's Lanxess AG is looking to be the top non-captive tyre curing bladder manufacturer in the world, according to company executives.
â€œWe were not in that business at all before last year,â€ said Frank Lueckgen, executive vice president of Rhein Chemie's Rubber Division. â€œBasically we got this new product group into our portfolio and we see a good opportunity to develop that on a global basis.â€
Rhein Chemie entered the tyre curing bladder business in early 2011 with its purchase of Argentina's Darmex S.A. and followed that up this past March by buying Tire Curing Bladders LLC, which is based in Little Rock, Arkansas, and has the capacity to make 400 000 curing bladders a year.
By the end of the year, Lueckgen said the company will begin production at a new plant in Porto Feliz, Brazil, that will have the capability to produce 170 000 of its Rhenoshape-brand bladders along with 2000 tonnes of rubber additives. The project will cost â€œseveral million dollars,â€ he said.
With these moves, Van Lent said Rhein Chemie is now positioned as â€œone of the largestâ€ non-captive tyre curing bladder makers and ready to move up in the market. It also is looking to convince tyre manufacturers with in-house capabilities to buy their bladders from Rhein Chemie and focus their own resources on other tyre manufacturing equipment.
â€œWe think Rhein Chemie has developed a bladder technology that is extremely competitive in the marketplace and provides the tyre companies with a very cost-effective way to cure their tyres,â€ he said.
In combination with its release agent portfolio, Van Lent said that makes Rhein Chemie an all-around supplier that can supply the bladder/release agent combination for each customer's specific production needs.
Besides making bladders for the production of car and truck tyres, Rhein Chemie also can make bladders for the manufacture of large speciality tyres such as for earth movers and for small-size tyres like for go-carts.
In addition, Rhein Chemie can apply coatings to the bladders according to customer needs. It also supplies the tyre industry with a broad range of predispersed polymer-bound chemicals, processing promoters, vulcanization and filler activators, anti-sun check waxes, release agents and tyre marking inks.
â€œWe are certainly in a unique position because we are the only supplier offering release agents and curing bladders,â€ Lueckgen said. â€œThere is no other supplier in the world with a global approach.â€
Sales for Rhein Chemie's Rubber Division are split roughly evenly between the Americas, Asia and Europe/Middle East, including India. Lueckgen said he sees growth opportunities in all three regions, especially in growth areas like China and Brazil.
The full version of this story appears on our sister publication, Rubber & Plastics News
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News release from Rubber & Plastics News