On the occasion of K show, Plastics met Martin Pugh, Senior Vice President and Business President for Plastics at Styron, and asked him about trends and applications for the styrenics, polycarbonate and compounded and blended products. Styron was a first time exhibitor at K 2013. The company was showcasing its plastics solutions in key strategic markets centred on the theme “Powering Ideas. Delivering the Future”.
Plastics: You joined Styron in March 2013, just eight months before the K show. How did you manage the challenges?
Pugh: My background is that I have spent 35 years in chemicals. Some of it is like coming home. At Styron, they are more inside the business and bring something to the business. I still remain just as excited as when I first started out. Styron has some great technology and capable people who can turn around projects with customers very quickly. Decisions are made extremely fast. We have worked initially on the portfolio.
Plastics: And what markets do you serve and where do you see potential?
Pugh: The expandable polystyrene (EPS) business was sold, as it was too small to be economically viable for us. We are now concentrating on seven strategic markets, for Automotive, Electrical and Lighting, Medical, Packaging, Home Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Building and Construction. Most of our growth will come from our compounded and blended business in the following growth markets: Automotive, Electrical and Lighting, Medical and Consumer Electronics.
Our team working on the Building and Construction market has launched a high-flow grade extruded polystyrene (XPS) product for the industry for high gauge extruded foam insulation boards. Here, we see big opportunities to improve insulation properties. We have a cooperation agreement with Italian company Decem.
But the most significant potential we see is in Automotive, which is the biggest market for us. Products in this sector range from polypropylene (PP) compounds and LGF PP, ABS to PC/ABS for automotive interiors, exteriors and structural applications. In the Renault project the focus is on LGF PP (see Plastics, issue 5/2013). At K, we present the first commercialisation of Velvex 5250, a reinforced elastomer/PP compound used in instrument console parts. As a result of this collaboration, GaZelle Next platform benefits from interior parts with improved soft touch, scratch resistance, low gloss while meeting the need for cost-efficiency in raw material usage along with a positive evaluation of Velvex 5250 on the Priora Face lifting platform.
The Consumer Electronics sector is a fast moving business. One of the global OEMs incorporates a large percentage of post-consumer recycle (PCR) content in their products from Styron. Styron supplies several grades of polycarbonate (PC) compounds and blends with PCR content of up to 50%. In the electrical market our products play an integral role in the production and performance of smart meter applications within Europe. We have started a business in Southern Europe which has developed very well and is making inroads globally too. Styron is participating in development efforts of charging stations across Europe. They have become a growing application for Styron with special demands on polymer performance. And for the lighting market, we offer a range of advanced PC resins. In LED lighting, we see growth and capabilities in Asia Pacific. Covers for lighting are a big developing market there. And there are numerous growth opportunities in Asia Pacific. Our Taiwan plant is well-situated next to consumer electronics suppliers, for instance, Foxconn Electronics and our automotive focus is on China with interior, exterior and structural parts. We have not defined a target yet on how big they will be, but we see potential for the business.
Plastics: And what is the focus at the K show?
Pugh: The application focus at K is on all our key strategic markets – one that we haven’t discussed is medical applications where we have cooperation agreements with medical companies in firstly, single/multiple use devices, and secondly equipment housings, for instance, for the global medical technology company Gambro.
In addition, we are showing a new technology process in conjunction with Sacmi. A big PS bottle is produced by Compression Blow Forming (CBF), a production process that consists of extrusion, compression moulding and forming.
Plastics: In your opinion, what are the trends in material development at this year’s K? And how does Styron respond to these trends?
Pugh: Trends at K that we are meeting are lightweighting and aesthetics in Consumer Electronics, Electrical and Lighting and Automotive. The feel of a product and energy efficiency are important factors. Styron responds to these trends with coming up with tailored solutions that meet the specific business needs of our customers. We have lots of in-house development, and work very closely with Tiers in the automotive industry and OEMs across different businesses to help them with the challenges that they are confronted with.
Plastics: What are Styron’s or your future plans?
Pugh: We will continue to develop strategies in our core businesses: Packaging, Building and Construction, Appliances, etc. We will be focusing on growth opportunities and profitability in our strategic markets. Overall, we will be looking to make the best use of resources, for example, in the Asia Pacific region, and in particular the automotive sector.
Plastics: Thank you very much.