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Lanxess pumps up plastics capacity


n line with its green mobility theme this year, German firm Lanxess has been investing in not only its rubber plants but also into high-tech plastics to facilitate more materials to cater to growing demand from the automotive sector. Its latest investment of EUR75 million is for a 90,000-tonne/year polyamide plant in Antwerp, Belgium, to start up in the first quarter of 2014.

In the last 24 months, Lanxess has invested EUR185 million in its global production network for high-tech plastics, with EUR125 million of that in its plants in Antwerp alone, including the new plastics facility.

The firm has been on a mission to expand its global production network for high-tech plastics. New plants are currently also under construction in the US and Brazil. The company previously opened a new production plant in India in January 2012 and recently doubled the capacity of its existing plant in Germany.

Lanxess also completed the expansion of caprolactam production in Antwerp in 2011, increasing its annual capacity of 200,000 tonnes by 10%. It has also invested in its glass fibre facility in Antwerp's harbour district. A first glass oven is being renewed completely this spring, the second one follows in the spring of 2013. The annual production capacity for glass fibres of 60,000 tonnes is being increased by 10%.

The new Belgian plant for the polymerisation of high-tech plastics is being built in the direct vicinity of the caprolactam facility, which is the key precursor for plastics manufacturing.

"With this new combination of facilities, we can supply our global network of compounding plants with polyamide plastics right from Antwerp in the future. That will make Antwerp the heart of our global business more than ever," said Michael Zobel, Head of the High Performance Materials (HPM) business unit. All plastics manufactured by Lanxess in Antwerp will be processed within its global network of compounding facilities into the final Durethan-brand products. The plastics are reinforced in some cases with glass fibres to further improve their properties and adapt them to customer needs.

The expanded output is to meet global demand for high-tech plastics that s expected to rise by up to 5% each year through 2020, with the automotive industry one of the main growth drivers. Another field of application for high-tech plastics is the electrical/electronics industry.

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