Friedrichshafen, Germany — Hexpol TPE GmbH plans to install a new production line making thermoplastic polyurethane compounds and similar materials in Germany.
The new twin-screw line will have annual production capacity of about 11 million pounds and will be operational by early 2018, Managing Director Peter Ryzko said at Fakuma 2017. It will be located at the firm's headquarters site in Lichtenfels and will be Hexpol's third new line there since 2012.
When the new line opens, Hexpol will have almost 180 million pounds (82 kilotonnes) of annual production capacity for thermoplastic elastomer compounds. The firm also opened a technical center in Lichtenfels in 2015.
Strong growth markets for Hexpol's TPE materials in 2017 have included automotive and footwear, Ryzko said.
"TPEs are more common now, and they process like thermoplastics, so it's easier for processors to switch from another material," he said.
Hexpol also is finding new applications for its Dryflex line of bio-based TPE compounds, which were launched in 2015. The materials can use up to 90 percent bio-based oil content in a variety of consumer products.
Processing of Dryflex "is not an issue" as it was with earlier generations of bioplastics, according to Ryzko. Dryflex "can provide sustainability and the same properties as other materials," he said.
In addition to Germany, Hexpol operates a North American TPE production site in Sandusky, Ohio, and an Asian site in Foshan, China. The firm is a unit of industrial conglomerate Hexpol Group of Malmo, Sweden.