Lanxess has started a second production line for plastics compounding at its facility in Gastonia, North Carolina.
The new line represents an investment of around US$15m and doubles the site’s production capacity from 20,000t to 40,000t annually.
In the plant, the basic polymers polyamide (PA) and polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) are mixed and refined with additives and glass fibre to make the plastic product lines, Durethan and Pocan.
They are used primarily in the automotive industry to manufacture lighter-weight plastic components, which can replace metal parts in vehicles.
“This investment shows our strengthened focus on high-performance compounds and underlines our strategy to shift this business towards higher-value-added markets,” said Lanxess board member, Hubert Fink.
“The capacity expansion in Gastonia also shows our commitment to North America, which we see as major growth region.”
In the coming years, Lanxess plans to plough EUR50m (US$54.5m) to EUR100m for organic growth in its plastics business.
“With the investments, we will be further balancing the capacities in our polyamide value chain and driving the globalisation of our engineering plastics business,” said Lanxess head of business unit, High Performance Materials, Michael Zobel.
Lanxess expects global demand for engineering plastics in automotive applications to grow by 7% annually (CAGR 2015-2020). This is being driven by rising car production and the trend towards more fuel-efficient automobiles.
For example, in the US, automakers must meet government-mandated Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations, which indicate the average distance which has to be covered per one gallon of fuel.
By 2025, an average fleet-wide fuel efficiency of 54.5 miles per gallon will be required compared to 34.1 miles per gallon in 2016.