Kraton Performance Polymers, a producer of styrenic block copolymers (SBCs) and other engineered polymers, has opened its new Kraton Innovation Center in Belpre, OH. This pilot facility allows Kraton to manufacture a wide range of SBC-type materials in quantities ranging from 25 kilograms to 50 metric tons. A company spokesperson told PlasticsToday that the facility will target completely new markets - "this is a development plant for new polymers and will be solely for new development products."
The facility and its process equipment broadens the company's abilities in polymeric chemistry by reportedly leveraging unique, less traditional monomers and building blocks to meet customer needs and create innovative applications. This new ability to generate developmental polymer and processing technologies also opens the door to applications and industries where traditional SBCs were unable to participate.
As the first asset of its kind built by Kraton, the pilot plant is located within the company's flagship commercial manufacturing facility in Belpre. This allows the new facility to capitalize on the existing plant's technical skills, talents and infrastructure. Its bridges the gap between laboratory and full-scale production of products within the development cycle, enhancing the company's ability to deliver developmental polymers in customizable quantities in 'record' time. It will reduce reliance upon Kraton's commercial manufacturing plants for test runs, resulting in fewer type changes and improved utilization of its manufacturing facilities.
"By making this additional investment in innovation, we are accelerating our time to market and improving our supply chain capabilities, which enables us to meet the needs of our global customers. This new facility has garnered significant interest on the part of those customers and our development partners around the world," said Kevin Fogarty, president and CEO of Kraton. "It also underscores our long-term commitment to the Mid-Ohio Valley and its economic growth."
Combined, the new pilot facility and the existing Belpre manufacturing plant employ nearly 600 employees and contractors, making Kraton one of the largest employers in the Mid-Ohio Valley area. Additionally, the modular design of the new pilot plant allows room for future expansion, and it is able to capitalize on the technical skills and product feedstocks of its on-site manufacturing plant.