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Compounder fills need to reduce resin costs

Asahi Kasei Plastics North America (APNA—Fowlerville, MI; www.asahi-kasei.co.jp), formerly Asahi Thermofil, intends to bring its resources to bear in the fight to reduce resin costs. According to Ramesh Iyer, director of sales at APNA, the mix of commodity and specialty materials the company brings to market is the ­perfect solution to resin price increases.

“When Asahi merged with Thermofil, there was no dissolution of product families, so we still maintain a broad mix of commodity and specialty grades,” Iyer told IMM in a recent phone interview. “From a product offering standpoint, look at the Xyron product family based on modified PPE. Depending on what you modify it with, you can obtain different properties. For electrical, PS is a good choice because it adds flame retardance. For automotive applications, we modify with PA66 for heat resistance. We have also alloyed PPE with PPS, retaining most of the PPS properties but improving impact, dimensional stability, and flow characteristics. We are climbing up the ladder in performance.”

With resin costs higher than at any time in the past, Iyer believes it is time to rethink material choices. “If a product is overengineered, say in nylon 6/6, we don’t hesitate to substitute with one of our materials because of our unique capability to perform application development to replace the material and take cost out.”

Long gone are the days when a simple polypropylene will suffice, Iyer explains. “Replacing a higher-cost material with PP requires us to use our technical know-how to tweak and bump up properties. Because we are basic in the raw materials, there are a lot of modifications we can make to PP and PPE. We can change glass transition temperatures for our entire family of products.” Asahi Kasei, the parent company, is a producer of PS, PE, PA66, and styrenics such as SBS, ABS, and SAN.

While automotive is down, says Iyer, it is not as devastating to APNA as it could be. “We have been diversified in multiple markets, including industrial and ­electrical/ electronics. Within industrial, we have applications in pool and spa, ­packaging, and commercial and agricultural vehicles. In the electrical/electronic area, our acetals are used for gears in printers and printer cartridges, DVD drives, and even MP3 players. The iPod, for ­instance, has a small component made out of our material.”

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