Plant expansions: BASF expands MDI plant in Belgium; Clariant to hike up medical plastic compounds output


German chemicals firm BASF has completed a capacity increase of its methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) production facilities at the company´s Verbund site in Antwerp, Belgium. The capacity increase brings the production of MDI in Antwerp from 560,000 tonnes/year to 650,000 tonnes/year. MDI is an important component for polyurethanes. It contributes to improved insulation, provides lighter materials for cars, and helps save energy in buildings.

Meanwhile, Swiss speciality chemicals company Clariant will expand its plant in Lewiston, ME, in the logo-Clariant US, and install a new compounding line to help meet growing demand for pre-coloured medical plastic compounds that are supplied under the Mevopur brand name. The new capacity will come on-line in Q4 2017.

The new compounding line, built around a new 70-mm extruder, will be able produce larger batch sizes (e.g.: 3,000 to 6,000 kg or larger) at high throughput rates. Production will focus on materials such as polyolefins, ABS, PC and PC alloys as well as speciality resins like TPU, and cyclic olefins. The EN-ISO13485 (2012) certified site in Lewiston is also being expanded to improve process-flow and material-handling.

Steve Duckworth, Head of Global Segment Healthcare Polymer Solutions, says, “Over the last five years, Clariant has pioneered the development of masterbatches for the healthcare sector. These are colour and additive concentrates that are added to natural polymers during moulding or extrusion of finished products. However, in some cases, medical processors may prefer to use a pre-coloured compound instead, perhaps for ease of handling or because of technical difficulties in the moulding or extrusion process. And yet, they have the same need for Controlled, Consistent and Compliant materials.”

The Lewiston plant is one of three global sites designed and operated to produce materials used in medical devices and pharmaceutical packaging. The other two facilities are located in Malmö, Sweden, and Singapore.

This 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.

Clariant already operates several smaller lines – in Lewiston and at other facilities -- which produce masterbatches and pre-coloured compounds in lot sizes ranging from 25 to 2,500 kg. In addition, production capacity for compounds is also being added during the first half of 2017 in Singapore, to handle increasing demand of colour 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-colour offerings in anything smaller than full-truck or railcar quantities.


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