Specialty chemicals company LANXESS (Leverkusen, Germany) has started up a second production line for plastics compounding at its Gastonia, NC facility. The new line represents an investment of about $15 million and doubles the site’s capacity.
The LANXESS Gastonia facility is operated by the high performance materials business unit and produces the Durethan (polyamides) and Pocan (polybutylene terephthalates), which are used primarily in the automotive industry to manufacture lighter-weight plastic components that can replace metal parts in vehicles.
“The U.S. automotive sector remains strong, and the demand for engineering plastics in cars is growing,” said Antonis Papadourakis, LANXESS president and CEO, and head of the High Performance Materials business unit for the NAFTA region. “With our expanded capacity, we are in a position to support this growth and remain a reliable supplier to our North American customers.”
The growing demand for high-performance plastic applications is being driven by rising car production and the trend towards more fuel-efficient automobiles. Automakers must meet government-mandated Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations that will require an average fleet-wide fuel efficiency of 54.5 mpg by 2025.
“We see the need for innovative lightweight solutions in automotive engineering as a crucial part of the CAFE equation,” said Marcus Schaefer, head of marketing and sales for high performance materials, Americas. “LANXESS has continued to develop new materials and engineering tools to support our customers in this task, and now we have taken steps to serve our North American customers with fast access to the material when they need it.”
The high performance materials business unit has roughly 1,500 employees worldwide and operates production facilities in Germany, Belgium, China, India, Brazil and the U.S. It is part of the performance polymers segment, which generated around EUR 4.1 billion in total sales in fiscal year 2014.