SABIC’s Innovative Plastics business celebrated a major milestone with the official opening of its specialty polypropylene (PP) compounding operation at its Bay St. Louis, Mississippi manufacturing site. The new compounding operation will supply SABIC® PP compounds and SABIC STAMAX* long glass fiber-filled PP (LGFPP) composites for a wide range of automotive applications. SABIC’s new PP operation answers fast-accelerating demand from automotive OEMs and tiers for local supply of globally-consistent PP materials in North America, supporting production of both regional and global vehicle platforms. This is the second time in 17 months that SABIC has opened a PP compounding facility, having celebrated the start-up of its Genk, Belgium plant in June 2010. SABIC’s PP investments underscore the company’s commitment to provide high-performance materials that can help automotive OEMs pursue weight reduction opportunities and achieve energy-efficient improvements in vehicles.
“In today’s fast-paced automotive industry, we continually strive to help our customers respond to new challenges and demands,” said Gregory A. Adams, vice president, Innovative Plastics, Automotive. “One of those challenges is the movement of many OEMs towards global vehicle platforms, with the resulting demand for high-quality, consistent materials that meet specifications across multiple regions. With this investment in Bay St. Louis, we have significantly boosted our capability to meet that demand and deliver even more responsiveness to our global customers, their engineering teams, and suppliers.”
Innovative Plastics installed the new PP capacity in Bay St. Louis by drawing upon the design and technology of the company’s Genk plant, the largest greenfield PP compounding plant ever built in Europe. This world-scale facility supplies PP compounds to Europe and SABIC STAMAX LGFPP composites to Europe and Asia Pacific. Genk also houses a Compounding Innovation Center with three pilot lines designed to speed the development cycle for new products and processes.
“With the investment in Bay St. Louis, we have taken the expertise that we have accumulated in Europe and the rest of the world and added it to North America,” said Leon Jacobs, polypropylene global leader Innovative Plastics, Automotive. “As a result, we have strengthened our ability to supply OEMs in this region with the uniform polypropylene materials that meet global materials specifications. Moving forward, these same customers will benefit from our ability to develop global polypropylene products and deliver local support in validating those materials, thanks to our globally integrated automotive organization and globally networked application development centers.”
PP materials in the automotive sector have shown steady growth over several decades – at about 3-5% pa, on average – and have replaced metals and other polymers in various parts and components. PP’s versatility and ease of processing contribute to growing demand. Today, PP compounds are the preferred solution in many automotive applications, including bumper fascias, instrument panels (IPs), door panels, interior trim and other parts.