China expansions: RadiciGroup opens polymers facility in Suzhou; Evonik expands polyether block amide capacity in Shanghai

RadiciGroup opens polymers facility in Suzhou

Italian materials firm RadiciGroup has opened a new EUR35 million site in Suzhou, China. Designed to double capacity for manufacturing engineering polymers, the area will significantly step up the group’s presence on the Asian market as a key player serving numerous sectors – from the automotive and electrical/electronics industries to consumer and industrial goods.

RadiciGroup invested EUR35 million in the development of the new complex, sited on 36,000 sq m of land, around half of which is occupied by production and R&D facilities. The rest houses offices, meeting rooms and communal areas, along with gardens and parking areas. The facility currently employs around 120 people.

According to Maurizio Radici Vice President and COO of RadiciGroup, the investment in China is part of a global growth plan which over the last two years has seen more than EUR85 million of investments made in high performance polymers business area, distributed across manufacturing sites in North America, Europe, and Asia.

He adds, “The objective is to expand our total production capacity, and in doing so guarantee growth, sustainability and innovation in our high performance polymers business.”

The group has had production operations in China since 2006, when it first opened in a small factory in Jiangsu Province. In 2012 it moved to a larger site, to then start on the construction from the ground up of this new fully-owned facility, designed for future scalability, as required.

The new complex is said to feature advanced green building technologies, for which it is LEED Gold (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified. This international standard for high-performance green buildings incorporates parameters such as benefits for the environment and human health, the reduced consumption of water, energy efficiency and the use of environmentally-friendly building materials and solutions. Notable features of the Suzhou site include the installation of a continuous monitoring system to ensure the energy efficiency of the building, rooftop solar panels to produce renewable energy, and a rainwater recycling system to meet the water needs of the site.

The site has also earned GBL-2 Star certification, a Chinese standard for building sustainability, demonstrating the attention China focuses on green building solutions, says the Italian firm.

Evonik expands polyether block amide capacity in Shanghai

In other news, German materials firm Evonik is doubling its global capacity for Vestamid E, polyether block amide (PEBA), with a two-fold approach including a major expansion of its production plant at its site in Shanghai, and an optimisation project at its production facility in Marl, Germany. Construction at the Shanghai site starts in fall 2023 and will increase the company’s ability for the polymerisation of PEBA, a key step in producing the raw material, which is demanded by the global, athletic footwear market.

“As the worldwide footwear production continues to grow, this latest investment in Shanghai will significantly increase Evonik’s PEBA production capacity, expand our regional presence, and put us in an optimal position to address the global market that is centered primarily on local manufacturing in Asia,” says Ralf Düssel, head of Evonik’s High Performance Polymers business line.

Complementing the expansion in Shanghai, several other projects are currently ongoing to eliminate bottlenecks and optimise overall production at Evonik’s other major PEBA facility in Marl, Germany.

Evonik’s Vestamid E has been used in athletic shoes. Continuous technological developments have allowed midsoles featuring Vestamid to be lightweight, offering an excellent energy return that enhances the performance of the athlete. In addition to these attributes, it is also said to exhibit low-temperature impact strength, chemical resistance and is easy to process and colour, making it sought after in many demanding applications in the automotive and medical technology industries.

As part of Evonik’s “Next-Generation Solutions” strategy, which has a 2030 goal of having more than 50% of its sales from products with superior sustainability benefits, the company is also placing high emphasis on producing Vestamid eCO, which retains all characteristics of a PEBA moulding compound, with 42% lower carbon footprint. It is made using 100% renewable energy and has 50% of its raw materials based on recycled tyres, through a third-party audited, mass-balance approach.


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