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Clariant expands Maine plant to increase production of medical plastic compounds

The new compounding line, built around a new 70-mm extruder, will be able to produce larger batch sizes at high throughput rates.

Muttenz, Switzerland–based Clariant International Ltd., a global supplier of specialty chemicals, has announced that the company will expand its plant in Lewiston, ME, and install a new compounding line to help meet growing demand for pre-colored medical plastic compounds that are supplied under the Mevopur brand name. The new capacity will come on line in Q4 2017. The news was first released at Pharmapack Europe 2017 in Paris last week, and will be a featured announcement at MD&M West in Anaheim, CA, this week (Feb. 7 to 9). Clariant is exhibiting at booth 2450.

The new compounding line, built around a new 70-mm extruder, will be able to produce larger batch sizes at high throughput rates. Production will focus on materials such as polyolefins, ABS, PC and PC alloys as well as specialty resins such as TPUs and cyclic olefins. The Lewiston site is certified to EN:ISO 13485 (2012) and is also being expanded to improve process flow and material handling, said the announcement.

“Over the last five years, Clariant has pioneered the development of masterbatches for the healthcare sector,” said Steve Duckworth, Head of Global Segment Healthcare Polymer Solutions. “These are color and additive concentrates that are added to natural polymers during molding or extrusion of finished products. However, in some cases, medical processors may prefer to use a pre-colored compound, perhaps for ease of handling or because of technical difficulties in the molding or extrusion process. Yet, they have the same need for controlled, consistent and compliant materials.”

Clariant’s Mevopur materials are offered for applications in medical devices and pharmaceutical packaging, where strict regulations on materials and change control apply. The Lewiston plant is one of three global sites designed to produce materials used in medical device and pharmaceutical packaging. The other two facilities are located in Malmo, Sweden, and Singapore. All are certified to EN:ISO 13485 (2012).

Clariant already operates several smaller lines in Lewiston and Clariant’s other Mevopur facilities, which produce masterbatches and pre-colored compounds in lot sizes ranging from 25 to 2,500 kg (50 to 5,000 lb). In addition, production capacity for compounds is also being added during the first half of 2017 in Singapore, to handle increasing demand of color compounds for local and international customers. These small- and medium-sized lots are in high demand, especially in the medical market, since many resin producers have discontinued or severely curtailed their custom-color offerings in anything smaller than full-truck or railcar quantities.

The new capacity complements equipment and plant investments aimed at compounding engineering resins and high-temperature polymers and, most recently, completion of a special installation in Lewiston for processing fluoropolymers such as FEP, ETFE, and PVDF.

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